The Balearic Islands Take It Seriously: Penalties For Incorrect Anchoring

Events 2023
The Balearic Islands Take It Seriously: Penalties For Incorrect Anchoring
The Balearic Islands Take It Seriously: Penalties For Incorrect Anchoring

For years the government of the Balearic Islands has tried to protect the Posidonia seagrass meadows at the bottom of the anchor bays. Biologically, they are extremely important nurseries for many species of fish and shellfish, protect the beaches from erosion and, on top of that, convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. The problem: If yachts anchor over such a bottom, they tear with their anchors and the chains that drag across the bottom while swiveling, sometimes 40 or 50 centimeter wide furrows in the dense seagrass fields. The wounds at the bottom close extremely slowly: with a growth rate of only about one millimeter per year, the roots close such gaps again. Many bays that used to be densely overgrown with seagrass are now almost dead at the bottom, as thousands of anchors plow through the ground every season.

That is why the rule that yachts are not allowed to anchor in such seagrass fields has been in effect for a long time explicitly in front of the Balearic Islands, but also around Sardinia and Corsica and, purely theoretically, even for the entire Mediterranean. For this purpose, buoy fields around the islands were set up many years ago with the help of EU subsidies, and a general anchoring ban in seagrass meadows was imposed. Skippers are only allowed to use the iron over the light turquoise sand areas.

However, many sailors have not adhered to the prohibitions around Mallorca. That is why the Ministry of the Environment has massively increased controls this year. Result: Around 86,000 crews were caught violating, as reported by Martin Muth, Revierführer book author (Portbook Balearen) and Mallorca expert for the cruiser department of the DSV. As a result, 8,500 yachts had to change their berths or leave them entirely.

If it is environmental officers who discover a wrongly anchored yacht, the crew only has to relocate the yacht, but if the GuardiCivil catches the sailors, the officials can impose fines, the amount of which depends on the damage caused to the bottom. Skippers should therefore choose their anchorage carefully. Information on reserving and paying for a buoy space is available on the buoy fields website, further information on the seagrass meadows on an information sheet from the Ministry of the Environment.

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