New French regulations protect Posidonia from superyacht anchors

There is soon to be a change in French laws affecting where yachts of over 24 metres will be able to anchor, in order to protect endangered marine species, especially the Posidonia. As of 3rd June 2020, regulations will ensure that wildlife must not be damaged due to boating activities, and is just in time for the 2020 yachting season. Thierry Voisin, President of Comité Européen pour le Yachting professionnel (ECPY), is consulting with the necessary authorities to ensure that changes will not cause irreparable damage to the yachting industry, and the community that it supports.

Posidonia, or ‘seagrass’, is an underwater plant and is found growing in the Mediterranean Sea, amid coastline and 25 metre depths. It is one of the oldest living beings on earth, living up to 100,000 years, and is paramount to the underwater ecosystems by providing important sources of oxygen. Posidonia meadows are being disrupted and destroyed due to boating activities such as anchoring, discharge of nutrient rich waters and rainwater full of sediments.

Voisin explains, “To date, France has not been enforcing any rules relating to superyacht anchorages and protected marine plant species. Rules relating to the protection of Posidonia are already being enforced in Spain and, as a result of pressure from the European Union; similar rules will be enforced in France for the 2020 season. If the rules in France resemble those in Spain, it may lead to a number of arrests and, for repeat offenders, significant fines. There is also the risk that an arrest because of anchorage restrictions may also lead to further issues in the event that the vessel in question doesn’t have all its documentation in order.”

The French anchorage law changes were initially announced on 3rd June 2019 in accordance with Prefectural Decree No.123/2019, which establishes a structure for anchoring and stopping of vessels in the French Inland and territorial waters of the Mediterranean. However, these laws are yet to be confirmed.

Voisin continues, “Yachts over 24m will not be allowed to drop their anchors into the seagrass. Seagrass, typically, takes around 60 years to grow and reach maturity and is, therefore, sensitive to disruption. The ECPY fully supports the need to protect this vital marine resource. However, we consider current proposals about the enforcement of the new laws to be unacceptable. We are working closely with the Prefecture Maritime Mediterranee to create a solution that works for all.”

There is assurance that yachts will still be able to commute in all protected areas, contingent that they are moored in a way that does not disturb or disrupt the seagrass.

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