Mallorca calls for cruise ship and tourist boat limit to avoid ‘major natural disaster’

Balearic officials have said that cruise ships are causing high levels of pollution and ruining protected marine life in the region. Limits would impact the number and the size of cruise ships permitted.

A report released by the Balearic Government asked the Ministry of Ecological Transition to “limit” the arrival of cruise ships to Balearic ports.

The report also asked for restrictions on the “traffic of regular line vessels and shipping companies” sailing in the waters.

Palma, the capital of Mallorca, was listed as one of the most affected ports and suffered from high levels of sulfur oxides.

The area between the islands of Ibiza and Formentera was also one of the most impacted spots due to high boat traffic.

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The report calls on the Spanish Government to carry out a study on the capacity of each island and limit boat traffic accordingly

Local Government also claimed there was a risk of a “major natural disaster” from a potential ship oil spill.

There were also calls for the amount of journeys between the islands of Ibiza and Formentera to be limited.

The small island of Formentera is only reachable by ferry and is a popular day trip from nearby Ibiza.


The Balearic Government has requested that Spain make the Balearic Sea a Specially Sensitive Marine Area (ZMES).

If this happens, it would be easier for the local Government to control sea waters and limit cruises.

Bad anchoring techniques were also targeted by the local Government due to their impact on marine species.

The report said: “The Balearic marine area has been saturated for years with marinas and anchorages that cause environmental effects on protected flora and fauna.”

The issue of cruise ships docking in the Balearic islands is a long standing controversy that divides residents.

Cruise ships have only just started returning to the seas after a long break during the pandemic.

Venice is just one of the latest tourist hotspots to ban the ships due to their excess levels of pollution.

According to researchers, a passenger’s carbon footprint triples in size when taking a cruise holiday.

The Balearic islands are also embroiled in a row over tourists boats’ impact on Posidonia Oceanica, often known as the “lungs of the sea”.

The protected plant produces as much oxygen per square metre as a hectare of the Amazon rainforest.

However, the critical seaplant meadows have been impacted by boats dropping anchor on them.

Although there are bans on anchoring in areas of Posidonia Oceanica, these are often ignored by private boat owners according to local officials.

Additional reporting by Rita Sobot. 

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