More than 800 yachts dropped anchor on protected sea grass in the Balearics

Posidonia takes decades to grow and is protected under EU regulations

A diver shows the damage down to posidonias in Ses Salines.
A diver shows the damage down to posidonias in Ses Salines.

More than 800 pleasure boats were obliged to move to another spot to drop anchor on the coasts of the Balearics this summer given that they were located in protected areas where the marine plant posidonia grows. The skippers of the boats had dropped their anchors on the sea grass, which is of great ecological value and is protected as a Site of Community Interest (SCI) under EU regulations and regional and national Spanish laws.

Of the more than 800 yachts that were located in the area, only 12 were fined by the Civil Guard and the Balearic government, for serious infractions and for causing damage to the posidonia. Around 12,500 vessels correctly used the buoys that mark the areas where it is safe to drop anchor in the islands of Formentera, Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca, according to data supplied by the Balearic environment chief, Biel Company.

Over recent years, the number of complaints by ecologists and the Formentera authorities about the destruction caused by anchors and chains has been on the rise. According to audiovisual evidence presented to the media, the anchors of super-yachts have completely ruined a number of areas of posidonia, which takes decades to grow.

According to Company, the European Commission has shelved existing complaints against the Balearic government for not properly controlling where yachts drop anchor in the natural parks of Ses Salines in Ibiza and Formentera. The international ecologist organization Oceana has reported a number of cases of serious damage, using underwater photos of the areas, as well as satellite positions of illegally anchored boats.