The nautical sector is important for the Balearic economy. | Archive


The Balearic government has made a big play of helping the local nautical sector. It has acknowledged just how important the sector is to the local economy, not only the investment it generates but also the jobs, and has pledged to create two colleges in the west and northeast of the island to help train local students much needed nautical skills. The vast majority of the skilled professional work has to come from overseas. and this is primarily because of a lack of training facilities on the island.

Palma has always been a centre for refits and repairs, with the dry docks and shipyards being constantly expanded in order to meet demand and also cater for the fleet of increasingly larger super yachts. But it appears that the government has had second thoughts and wants to approach expanding the industry from a more "sustainable" angle.

The new general plan for Balearic ports will prohibit the construction of new marinas and the expansion of existing ones. According to the government, the plan will include a series of measures aimed at encouraging and offering the population "greater access to the sea".

The draft of the plan has been presented by the minister for transport, Marc Pons, and the final draft is expected to be approved in August of next year. Some of the proposals include making better and more use of existing dry docks while promoting the "communal use" of certain vessels and moorings.

The latter, it is thought, would help meet the huge demand for moorings, especially during the summer months. The director of Ports de les Illes Balears, Pedro Puidengoles, says that the priority is to "meet demand without expanding, but it’s not going to be difficult".

The proposed plan has not gone down well with the nautical industry. The president of the association of Balearic nautical businesses, Jaume Vaquer, only two weeks ago called for proper regulation of dry docks, especially of marinas which are not going to be allowed to be enlarged. "We have not got the infrastructure to comply with the new law."

* It should be pointed out that Palma, Alcudia, Mahon, Ibiza and La Savina fall under the Balearic Ports Authority, the Balearics arm of the State Ports. These ports are therefore not governed by regional government plans: Ports de les Illes Balears is the regional authority.