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New French Regulations Protect Mediterranean Seagrass

1 January 2021By Claire Griffiths
iStock/Arnaud Abadie

Written by

Claire Griffiths

Claire Griffiths is Dockwalk’s contributing editor in the Mediterranean. She fled to the sunny south of France from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Claire has a background in journalism for national and regional UK press and a career in political and corporate PR prior to that. Claire’s hobbies include eating, sleeping and dancing at inopportune times. She tries to avoid sheer drops and Olympic bobsled runs. Email Claire at claire@dockwalk.com

Some call seagrass “the lungs of the Mediterranean” because more than half the oxygen we breathe comes from the sea. Studies reckon that the Mediterranean seagrass produces 14 to 20 liters of oxygen per square meter daily. Seabeds break swells and inhibit coastal erosion; they’re a breeding ground and haven for sea-life. New French regulations in October 2020 are aimed at protecting the seagrass meadows that cover about 25 percent of the seabed.

The new decrees prohibit anchoring outside designated zones, for all yachts over 24 meters, and for yachts over 20 meters east of the Var river (along the Posidonia seabed). “Yachts over 45 meters or 300gt must declare their intention to anchor in a designated anchoring zone, and yachts over 80 must request permission,” says ECPY President Thierry Voisin.

Reacting to the news of the decrees, Capt. Robert Bleecke says it was bad news for the French yachting industry and could encourage yachts to cruise in other waters. “I reckon Italy will be a winner because of these regulations,” says Bleecke. “The 25-meter ruling is a huge chunk of the industry that won’t be able to anchor in coastal waters. Yachts don’t want to anchor in the deep, guests want to see clear blue waters, to see the bottom and not swim in the dark depths.”

There’s potential for more accidents if yachts are forced to anchor in deep water (when many yachts don’t have enough cable to do so). “Anchoring in deep water for medium-sized yachts is not an option, especially in bad weather — you anchor behind a land mass or in a bay,” Bleecke says. “It’s not safe to anchor in unprotected waters.” He thinks French authorities should’ve introduced a fee for moorings when the decrees were enacted or introduced mooring buoys as per neighboring countries of Italy and Spain. For more info, go to www.premar-mediterranee.gouv.fr.

This column is taken from the January 2021 issue of Dockwalk.

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