Adapted from the interview with the Maritime prefect of the Mediterranean in the “Aire Marine” of July 2019

In June 2019, the French government issued an important framework decree that includes an environmental component aimed at protecting the habitats of protected marine plant species from the impacts of yacht anchors.

This decree incorporates the major challenges of the Mediterranean coastline (in France but this is also relevant beyond France), namely maritime safety, state security and the environment. Indeed, the development of super yachts is not without its challenges. In particular, it precipitates the degradation of the marine environment and in particular the Posidonia meadows under the action of the anchors that plough the seabed and their chains that cut the meadows. The most significant damage is due to the anchors of boats over 24 metres in length.

Posidonia is a protected species in France and at European level, but until now, outside Marine Protected Areas where special regulations may apply, anchoring in an area where protected species are present was not considered as a destruction. With this framework decree, it is now prohibited to anchor in “an area corresponding to a habitat of protected marine plant species when this action is likely to affect it”. Regulated mooring areas will be set in “local or sectoral” decrees as well as authorised vessel size thresholds. So even if the 24-metre size is considered critical, smaller or larger vessels may also be subject to mooring regulations depending on site use or the conservation status of the meadow, for example.

The challenge today is to translate this framework decree into local decrees. The objective is to have carried out this work by the summer of 2020 and to set up technical and financial support to organise mooring where it will be regulated.

The French Biodiversity Agency and the French authorities are also working on a revision of the regulations on the mooring of yachts over 45 metres in length.

Finally, the European Community is also looking into this with the organisation of an event entitled ” Anchors away – Networking event for mitigitating anchoring on Posidonia beds”. It will take place on 21 and 22 November 2019.