Pirate charters are an issue at different marinas in Majorca. | G. Alomar


Pirate boat chartering is like a "metastasis" spread of cancer, according to José María Jiménez, the president of the charter committee of the association for maritime businesses. Each summer in Puerto Alcudia and Puerto Pollensa there is unfair competition and there are irregularities, but little action is taken. One business owner says that the Guardia Civil haven't once gone to conduct inspections.

This pirate activity is said to mean losses of 100,000 euros for the legitimate operators. Therefore, they want the Guardia to check on the pirates, who "are robbing us of a thousand euros a day through their illegal practices".

These boats do not have certified tariffs, they avoid taxes, are not properly registered and allow on board more passengers than is permitted. Jiménez says that residents pay for moorings 365 days a year and that mooring costs operators 12,000 euros. The pirate boats tie up for one day and pay no more than some 300 euros per month.

Since March, the regional government's ports directorate has initiated twenty proceedings. Of these, six are of a serious nature, i.e. there has been no prior declaration of responsibility or authorisation.  The fine for this can be as much as 10,000 euros. There also cases which could be classified as very serious and so carry a fine of up to 100,000 euros.

The directorate says that there is no port which generates notably greater numbers of complaints than others, although there are more in Ibiza than Majorca.

There are at present 2,000 registered charter boats, which can carry a maximum of twelve passengers. Rules on this were introduced in February, so the directorate suggests that they are only now starting to show an effect.

Jiménez adds that the problem of pirate charters is similar to that of pirate taxis. "If it is difficult for the Guardia Civil to control vehicles on land, it is even more so with boats on the sea." He concludes by saying that the only money that the pirate charters leave behind is what tourists spend in supermarkets.