The government has taken the first step towards changing the law and banning private use of rigid-hulled inflatable powerboats. The move forms part of the fight against drug smuggling on the Costa del Sol and coastal areas near Gibraltar.
The high-speed vessels are a favourite means of transport for the increasingly self-confident gangs smuggling hashish and other drugs from north Africa into Europe. Last week bathers in Sabinillas, Manilva, were surprised to see one of the imposing boats racing onto the sand pursued by a police helicopter.
The ministry for the Interior under the previous PP government had already announced it was to take action and now the Spanish Cabinet has approved a change, driven by the new PSOE Finance minister, María Jesús Montero, who is responsible for Customs and is also from Andalucía.
The new rules will cover rigid-hulled boats over eight metres long or smaller ones with 150kW motors, as well as any similar boat that the authorities believe is being used for carrying drugs.
Once approved there will be a six-month period for the restriction to come into affect.