The coast is chaos”

The coast is chaos”
The coast is chaos”

José Luis Ortega (Maó, 1974) has been the head of the maritime district of Maó, which is dependent on the Maritime Authority of Palma, for twenty years. He therefore has extensive knowledge of the reality of the Menorcan coastline, of whose management he is very critical.

There is a lot of talk about overcrowding in Menorca. Is there also overcrowding in the sea?

—The situation is the same or worse. That is why we are asking for more regulation and limitations. We need to know, for example, how many companies can operate on a ramp, or how many buoys can be placed on the Menorcan coast. We have the PTI, which sets out the territorial planning of the Island, but we do not have any plan to regulate the coast.

So, is the Menorcan coastline overcrowded?

—There are no limits at the moment. More and more companies are operating in it and there is no limit.

You propose drafting a plan to organize the coast.

—Yes, we need a master plan, which we can call whatever we want and which would be a kind of PTI for the coast, which clearly establishes a ceiling, because the problem is that now there are no limits and we must remember that the coast is public. Now companies and individuals operate there without any kind of order, when everything should be regulated by the administrations. It is as if a neighbourhood association says that from now on they will manage the parking on a street themselves, and they start to decide who can park and the price they should pay. Or imagine that this neighbourhood association makes a parking lot just for them on a public plot. This is what is happening at sea right now.

Under what criteria should this plan be drafted?

—It should be drafted by the competent public administrations, in this case the Balearic Government and the town councils. The problem is that there are no criteria at the moment and it is necessary to start from scratch, and a new regulation would have to be made, because even Catalonia, which is always ahead, does not have clear regulations either. Although the problems are different in each area.

What specific problems does Menorca have?

—For example, Menorca has few marinas and no places to refuel, so now the boats are refuelling at the moorings, which causes safety and pollution problems. Therefore, it would be necessary to create safer places to refuel. In addition, if a boat burns now in Cala Galdana or Binibèquer, we do not have fire protection systems.

Are there other issues that need to be resolved?

—Sometimes bad weather comes and the boats are not removed from the buoys, and in many cases we do not know who to contact, and there is no one to ensure that a boat can be moored at a particular buoy. There is also no control over the dead bodies dumped by private individuals. There is a lack of planning, regulation and management, because everyone does what they want and the coast is a mess.

How many moorings are there in Menorca right now?

—There are now 2,500 moorings in the ports of Maó, Ciutadella, Fornells, Addaia and Cala en Bosch. And then there are 1,900 mooring points on buoys. These figures have remained practically stable since 2006, although there have been some increases in some places, such as Fornells or Maó, although this is not significant.

So, the overcrowding of the sea is not translating into an increase in moorings?

—The problem is not only the moorings, because our ramps are saturated. Now in the same mooring area we find individuals who launch their boats into the sea, boat rental companies and kayak rental companies. And then there are the swimmers, who we always forget about, but who have to be able to swim in the sea safely, because they are the largest group and, therefore, the general interest is this and not so much the boats. Now, if a company asks to use a ramp for ten or twenty boats, based on what do we say no? From Costas we have started to limit the number of boats, but we do not have a plan that supports us to carry out this reduction.

You have expressed your support for reducing the time periods for concessions or authorisations for coastal buoys.

—It is unsustainable that each buoy can only be used by one person, who will use it for a month or ten days, and that no one else can use it, because this then leads to them being sold illegally.

He is also in favour of public buoy fields, which can be reserved via an app.

—Yes, because the administrations must guarantee the public use of the sea and what we cannot do is create private anchoring areas. If everyone must have a buoy for their boat, we do not have enough coastline for everyone. It is unsustainable and unviable. We must create blue zones, like with cars, so that we can all enjoy the sea.

The feeling of overcrowding is also increased by the rental of boats without a licence.

—The boom in this type of rental is associated with the fact that some beaches cannot be accessed by car and people use them as an alternative route, because they are an economical product. In addition, they believe that if they do not go to Macarella it is as if they had not been to Menorca. Added to this is the fact that there has been poor practice by these companies, because they do not spend enough time teaching clients how to handle the boat, and if one day they see that the weather is bad they continue renting, and then what happens happens.

In addition, it has been announced that vessels on list 7a, recreational vessels, will be available for rent from 2025.

—This regulation has caused a lot of controversy but it will only affect the registration of vessels. It will prevent a person from having to change the list every time they change their use, but I don’t think it will have a very noticeable effect on the Island.

The State transferred the powers of the Coast to the Balearic Islands, although the Government itself has denounced the lack of resources.

—It is true that requests for information have been received late and this will cause delays in authorisations. The transfer of powers took place on 1 July last year, and perhaps the machinery needs to work better and more staff is needed.

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