STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
THE boating fraternity in the Balearics, it would appear, has erred on the side of environmental friendliness with the regional government's forecast for the popularity of non-damaging anchoring buoys breaking all expectations.

Coastal Environmental Quality director, Josep Lliteres explained yesterday that the mooring buoys, set up in nine locations around the Balearic coastline, have been strategically placed so that anchors dragging on the seabed won't harm the important undersea meadows of Posidonia grass which through their intricate rooting system, are key to the stability of the Islands' sandy shorelines.

By the time mid-August arrived this year, said Lliteres, the number of vessels opting for the eco-buoys - 13'684 to date - had broken the figure for users in the whole of 2007.

Speaking about the upkeep and maintenance of the eco-buoy system, Lliteres said that since the beginning of the president regional government's term of office, another inflatable motorised Zodiac-style launch has been drafted in to facilitate the monitoring and control of the flotillas of mooring buoys well out of the way of the threatened Posidonia meadow grass.

Amongst the targets that the regional Environment ministry had set for this year, it had hoped that the use of the eco-buoys by boating enthusiasts would increase by 25 percent, bringing the total who opted for these non-damaging anchoring points to 16'000. Lliteres said that these estimates now seem “conservative” as there is every likelihood that this goal will be broken with still more than another four months of this year to run. The director also said that there were probably another 5'000 to 6'000 users that weren't recorded by the ministry watchdogs because when controls finish at 5.30pm each day, it's very ofen the case - particularly at this time of the year - that sailors choose to anchor up somewhere for the night and then move on early in the morning. Environment ministry records show that the flotillas of mooring buoys most used this year have been at Espalmador, Formentera (2'947); and Fornells, Minorca (2'788). The four around Majorca are at Cala Blava (1'543); Sant Elm (956); Porto Petro (1'390); Punta Avançada (1'132).

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