In the Alpes-Maritimes in particular, decrees now prohibit the anchoring of yachts, over 20 m or 24 m depending on the location, in the Posidonia meadows.
These texts would encourage the flight of these ships to Italian, Spanish, Croatian or even Turkish waters and would therefore “threaten” the economy of yachting, which “directly supports 6,000 people on the Côte d'Azur”.
In Cannes, Antibes and elsewhere in the Alpes-Maritimes, even beyond, foghorn concerts for the same claim. For more than three weeks, every day at 2 p.m., sailors have been heard to demand "the suspension" of decrees prohibiting the anchoring of yachts, over 20 m or 24 m depending on the location, in the seagrass beds of posidonia. Under penalty of prosecution of up to 150,000 euros fine and one year of imprisonment.
In force in the Alpes-Maritimes since October 2020, these texts signed by the Mediterranean maritime prefecture would encourage the flight of these ships to Italian, Spanish, Croatian or Turkish waters.
And therefore “threaten” the economy of yachting, which supports “6,000 people directly on the Côte d'Azur”, points out Mathieu Reix, the president of SOS Navigation.
This association even appealed to Emmanuel Macron in a letter: "Enforce such a decree with the current context due to Covid-19, which has already greatly affected this economic sector, is an inconsistency".
This decree is however "an absolute necessity" to prevent tearing due to anchors, according to the maritime prefecture which warns: "We are losing the lungs of the sea".
Posidonia has declined by 30% in five years around Antibes
A flowering marine plant endemic to the Mediterranean,
plays a major ecological role for underwater biodiversity and protection against erosion, the authorities point out.
“It has been forbidden to destroy it since 1988. And yet its decline continues to accelerate, assures Captain Christine Ribbe, spokesperson for the maritime prefect.
The surface of the seagrass has decreased by 10% over the last 100 years and even by 30% in five years in some very busy places, such as around Antibes.
Something had to be done and these decrees [similar texts were signed all around the Mediterranean] were taken in consultation with the players in the sector.
Actors, "unions", in which "the employees of the shipowners" that the SOS Navigation association has federated say today that they do not recognize themselves. “We are sailors. We love the sea. So obviously we have to protect the Posidonia. But it must be done intelligently, loose Mathieu Reix. Ecology is good, but not when it comes at the expense of thousands of jobs. In Antibes alone, there are already 38 booking cancellations this year, or 1.5 million euros, going up in smoke. We say that it concerns the rich, OK, but by hitting the rich, we also beat us who work for them. "
According to data from the CRT Côte d'Azur, 40% of the world fleet of yachts cruises off the southern region.
For a significant windfall.
The annual economic benefits, direct and indirect, of the sector would represent 3 billion euros.
“It would be heartbreaking to see all of this collapse,” continues Mathieu Reix.
A meeting with the maritime prefect on Friday
For a few days, the sailors have stopped their concerts and regained a little hope. “We got an appointment this Friday with the maritime prefect, announces the president of the SOS Navigation association at
. We know that the decrees will not be canceled but we must resume consultation to adapt them. One of the first ideas would be to reduce the ban to units over 30 or 35 m. At least a while. Time to find solutions. "
“THE solution”, according to him, would be the installation of “dead bodies” off the Côte d'Azur.
Concrete blocks submerged in very specific places, free of posidonia, on which the yachts could come to settle.
“There is only Bonifacio, in Corsica, which will have installed it this summer.
Elsewhere, it drags on, ”he says.
Studies are well underway on the side of Saint-Tropez, for an installation project in 2022. In the west of the Alpes-Maritimes, communities are also working on a project.
But that will not materialize anyway for several years.
In Cannes, checks to verify that the cruise is having fun without polluting
Soon, yachts will no longer be able to anchor anywhere