Arrels Marines has compiled a report into the environmental condition of Pollensa Bay... | X. SERRA

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Arrels Marines is a Balearic organisation, “united by a common passion, our love for the Mediterranean Sea”. Its mission is “to preserve and guarantee a sustainable future for the Balearic Sea through marine conservation, ecological awareness and environmental education”.

In association with Pollensa town hall, Arrels Marines has compiled a report into the environmental condition of Pollensa Bay. The presentation of this report was given at the town hall on Thursday. Two members of the organisation, Sebastià Cabanelles and Josep Vives, were joined by the mayor, Tomeu Cifre, and the councillor for the environment, Maria Buades.

The audience for the presentation included representatives from the residents association in Puerto Pollensa, the yacht club and the Ports IB authority.

The report is a development from an initial study confined to posidonia sea grass. Wider environmental impact was therefore analysed, a conclusion being - and a perhaps rather dramatic one - that while the bay is not dead, it is in a critical condition. One reason for suggesting this is that biodiversity has been so badly damaged that nature “will hardly be able to recover”.

Moving on from just posidonia, Arrels Marines established four objectives for the report - evaluation of the ecological condition of the bay’s inner area; assessment of the ecological and social impact of recreational boats; evaluation of the impact of waste and illegal anchoring; and possible solutions.

The five main impacts in the bay, the report says, are discharges and spills of wastewater; the substitution and replenishment of sand; low oceanographic mobility; excess anchoring and nautical pressure; and excess rubbish. Where the latter is concerned, and in the area of the bay that was studied, 62 bulky items were identified by dives. These were for anchoring boats and they are lying on the seabed; they are typically concrete. An estimated total number in an area of 475,000 square metres is 2,375.

Cabanelles observed that a study from 1989 found that the bay’s ecosystem was in a very good condition. “It was much richer than now.” While discharges have had their impact, most of the blame is attached to the pressure from boats and from the debris “dumped by humans”. He added that there are effects which go unseen. There is a great deal of noise in the bay. Added to what has become a lack of shelter for fish, this means that the fish population is “very low”.

For Arrels Marines, there needs to be a huge clean-up of the seabed. In addition, the organisation proposes the elimination of permanently anchored vessels and active monitoring to enforce maritime safety and environmental laws.

Maria Buades did take issue with some of the points, noting, for example, that Pollensa police were controlling boats last summer. But as the study was in association with the town hall, the findings do require acting upon if they are to mean anything. They make for pretty damning reading.