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The European Committee for Professional Yachting, ECPY, had an appointment with the Maritime Prefect, on 18th February, to clarify mooring bans and their consequences.
After two years of discussions, the main orders prohibiting mooring in the French protected areas of the Mediterranean were promulgated. This means that yachts will have to anchor further from the shore, beaches and busy establishments, with a risk of heavy congestion in areas that are now reduced and therefore less attractive. At the request of ECPY, the Maritime Prefect, represented by Commissioner General Duchesne, welcomed in Toulon the three presidents of the main associations of professionals and captains of yachting: PYA, GEPY and ECPY.
This meeting to prepare for next season was essential, after the particularly terrible economic impacts caused by the social regulations on yachting seamen in 2016 to 2017, then the increased desertion of yachts due to COVID.
In order to allow yachts to get closer to the shore, the maritime authorities encourage the creation of organised buoy fields and moorings, but also their private funding for public use of these facilities. These facilities are the responsibility of the land-based authorities and local communities.
In case of bad weather, the authorities have confirmed that vessels that have to take refuge in the forbidden zone (Posidonia meadows) can do so, to safeguard their nautical safety, without prior ECPY authorisation and without incurring sanctions. However, captains may have to justify the reality of the safety issue.
To better ensure that passing captains are aware of this new regulation, ECPY has suggested that messages to captains, in French and English, concerning anchoring rules be broadcasted by VHF, through CROSSMED.
The authorities have confirmed the need for them to create, in a future regulation, a limitation of the mooring time to 72 hours. It does not target yachts in routine operation, with crew on board, but rather to vessels and "sucker" boats abandoned without supervision and presenting a risk of stranding. To lighten this management of mooring time by captains, the Maritime Prefecture proposes to validate lists of 24- to 45-metre (78- to 147-foot) yachts benefiting from an implicit renewal every 72 hours for the whole season.
The ECPY has expressed the concerns of yachting professionals regarding the means of establishing the offence of anchoring in a prohibited zone, whether it is the platform (aircraft, drone, boat), the tools (GPS, AIS) or the thing observed: position of the yacht or position of the anchor and the chain. Unlike the Spanish or Italian authorities, France chooses to sanction the position of the vessel itself. This transfer from a ban on the destruction of the Posidonia to an infraction of the vessel's position in a delimited (but unmarked) area leaves, according to our associations, room for arbitrariness, as a yacht can be above the Posidonia with an anchor and chain outside, and vice versa. This situation is all the more damaging since the maritime infraction amounts to €150,000 (c. £129,000), while the environmental infraction is "only" a hundred euros.
ECPY, PYA and GEPY will continue to work closely with the maritime authorities (Préfecture maritime de Méditerranée), propose a joint Préfecture maritime / Yachting professionals observatory to monitor incidents during the season, and will remain very vigilant on the economic impacts of this new regulation. The yachting economy on the French coast and its indirect impact on tourism is a very important issue for Corsica and Provence - Alpes - Côte d'Azur regions: it must be recognised, welcomed and properly dealt with by public players.
For more detailed information, view the full ECPY press release here.
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