French to Regulate Yacht Anchorage

10 July 2019

Prémar Méditerranée, the French Mediterranean Maritime Authority, published decree n°123/2019 on June 3 defining the framework for future regulations on the anchorage and stopping of all vessels in French national waters. The European Committee for Professional Yachting (ECPY) published an unofficial English translation here.

The decree is a framework that will need to be precisely defined before going into effect prior to the 2020 Med season, so it has no impact on the 2019 season. Due to its wide scope, however, it will be used as the legal reference for future local regulations in each département in France. The specifics, such as the areas concerned and vessel thresholds, will be defined by decree of the maritime prefect for the coast of each department.

Following the “framework” decree, ECPY states, the French maritime authority will be able to regulate the anchoring of vessels: limiting time at anchorage, prohibiting anchoring in areas where there is a risk of damage to protected habitats (particularly Posidonia meadows, which produce oxygen), or to categories of vessels likely to cause damage, an obligation for some vessels to make prior declarations of their intention to anchor, and an obligation to maintain AIS and VHF watch continuously. However, it will not be applicable to vessels moored on buoys in dynamic positioning or organized anchorages.

A group of professional yachting associations in southern France are working with ECPY to “participate in the definition of future local regulations with PremarMED,” while still considering the laws protecting the environment and economic interests of the industry, destinations, and jobs.

“The goal of ECPY is to organise a smooth transition from today’s situation concerning anchorage to future anchorage rules,” says Thierry Voisin, ECPY president. “We are the only yachting body in contact with the administration and we do need support of the whole industry.”

In a post on ECPY, they stated: “We will not let the populist ‘anti-yachting’ organizations condemn our profession for ‘ecocid’ activities on sea-grass beds, nor target the superyachts over 24 meters, simply because they fly a foreign flag and do not count in local elections. We will make sure that the national and international maritime laws are recognized by regulators, without any discrimination against our ships.”

In the meantime, ECPY recommends ensuring that you are rigorously anchored exclusively in sandy areas in these meadows, search for the spaces in official documentation (such as and when possible, and to lift the chain and anchor vertically by bringing the yacht upright, not by hauling over it.