What are the French laws on anchoring around Posidonia seagrass?

French anchorage regulations

The anchoring of yachts along the French Riviera and Corsica is strictly regulated.

Local regulations have been implemented since 2016 to restrict yachts from anchoring in certain locations (decree 131/2022). Another decree (123/2019) bans anchoring into protected species, such as Posidonia seagrass.

Penalties

There are serious penalties for captains that do not adhere to the anchoring regulations around Posidonia. Captains can face imprisonment, fines of up to €150,000 and bans from navigating in French Mediterranean waters if these laws are broken.

Decrees for each bay:

Golfe de la Napoule / Golfe Juan - Decree 205/2020

Golfe de la Napoule / Golfe Juan
Reproduced with the kind permission of Préfet Maritime de la Méditerranée.

Saint-Tropez / Plage des Cigales - Decree 248/2020

Saint-Tropez / Plage des Cigales
Reproduced with the kind permission of Préfet Maritime de la Méditerranée.

Cap Martin - Decree 204/2020

Cap Martin
Reproduced with the kind permission of Préfet Maritime de la Méditerranée.

View the charts by SHOM for each of the bays.

See below all other decrees for each bay:

Map of regulations in South of France

  • Decree 159/2016 – Côte Bleue Marine / Martigues / Sausset-les-Pins / Carry-le-Rouet
  • Decree 204/2020 – Cap Ferrat / Cap Martin
  • Decree 205/2020 – Pointe de l’Aiguille / Embouchure fleuve Var / Golfe de la Napoule / Golfe Juan
  • Decree 206/2020 – Réserve naturelle des Bouches de Bonifacio / Les Moines – Ventilègne / Bonifacio-Pertusato / Sant’Amanza-Lavezzi / Porto-Vecchio – Santa Giulia / Baie de Figari / Golfe de Ventilegne / Secteur de la Madonetta / Secteur de l’Escalier du roi d’Aragon / Île Piana / Punta de Sperone / Îles Lavezzi / Cala di Grecu / Golfe de Sant’Amanza
  • Decree 221/2020 – La Racou / Anse de la Raguès / Plage de l’Huile / Plage d’En Baux / Anse de la Mauresque / Sainte-Catherine Anse de Paulilles / Du cap Oullestrell au cap d’Osne / Digue du port de Banyuls-sur-Mer / Réserve naturelle marine de Cerbère-Banyuls / Anse de Terrimbo / Banyuls-sur-Mer / Argelès-sur-Mer
  • Decree 245/2020 – Point Fauconnière / Cap Cépet
  • Decree 246/2020 – Cap Carqueiranne / Cap Bénat
  • Decree 247/2020 – Cap Bénat / Pointe de Bonne-Terrasse / Baise de Briande / Baie de Bon-Porté
  • Decree 248/2020 – Cap Pinet / Pointe de Saint-Aygulf / Saint Tropez / Plage des Cigales / Plage de la Nartelle / Plage de la Gaillarde
  • Decree 249/2020 – Saint-Raphaël / Pointe de l’Aiguille
  • Decree 020/2021 – Hérault / Cap d’Agde / Frontignan / Palavas-les-Flots
  • Decree 095/2021 – Haute-Corse / Plage de Saleccia / Plage du Loto / Centuri / Barcaggio / Erbalunga
  • Decree 099/2021 – Baie de la Ciotat / Baie de Cassis / Baie de Lecques
  • Decree 100/2021 – Estaque / Anse de Malmousque / Pointe Rouge / Anse de la Maronaise / Calanque de Marseilleveyre / Ile de Riou – côte Nord / Calanque de Sormiou / Calanques de Morgiou / Sugiton et Pierres Tombées /  Calanques d’En Vau et de Port Pin / Frioul (ile Ratonneau) / Ouest Pomègues (Frioul) / Calanque de Port Pomègues
  • Decree 101/2021 – Baie de Cassis / Plage de Bestouan / Plage de la Grande Mer / Cal. De Port Miou

Yachts over 45 metres (147 feet) must contact the semaphore at least one hour before anchoring and declare their anchoring plan. Please note that it can be refused for environmental and safety reasons.

Yachts over 80 metres (262 feet) must receive anchoring authorisation from the semaphore, according to the CROSSMED statement.

Stopping the yacht with the Dynamic Positioning system is strictly forbidden within 500 metres from the shoreline, and should not exceed 2 hours.

Underwater lights are also strictly forbidden during the night as well as voluntarily approaching marine mammals within 100 metres (decree 172/2021).

Mooring tips

Aim for sandy areas, easily identifiable by their clear bottom using sonar. Use appropriate length of chain and warp. Reverse at a maximum of 0.5 knots and raise anchor with the bow of the boat directly over it.

Donia: free sustainable mooring app

To help captains anchor away from sensitive and protected species, an app for smartphones and tablets was developed by Andromède Océanologie and Agence de L’Eau Rhône Méditerranée Corse. It features several free marine habitat maps to guide users towards a safe and environmentally friendly mooring spot.

Find out more information here and how to download the app:

QR Code Donia

What is Posidonia seagrass?

Posidonia seagrass is an underwater plant found growing in the Mediterranean Sea in depths between 0 and 40 metres. 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. As valuable as coral reefs, Posidonia has several ecological functions. It stocks 10 times more carbon than forestry soils, protects beaches from erosion, and houses over 50 species of fish.

Impact of anchoring

When a deadweight mooring or anchor is dropped, seagrass meadows are heavily damaged. The Mediterranean Sea attracts many yachts from 20 to 180 metres (65 to 590 feet) between May and the end of September every year. Tourism activities, including yachting, can greatly benefit local economies. However, the over frequentation of yachts in a concentrated marine environment can be particularly harmful to wildlife like seagrass if not properly managed.

Posidonia grows only a few centimetres per year, and hundreds of hectares are ravaged by anchoring each year. Once destroyed, Posidonia cannot be restored.

International issue

The Mediterranean Basin is concerned by the impact of anchoring into Posidonia seagrass. The Mediterranean Posidonia Network gathers different stakeholders (authorities, marine protected areas, socio-professionals, scientists, associations, etc.) from different countries to find collective solutions to enable eco-friendly mooring along the Mediterranean coast.

For more information, visit Mediterranean Posidonia Network below:

Med Posidonia Network QR code


Want to know more about Posidonia and the anchoring regulations in French waters? Read more articles here.


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