- Operations - First captain fined for Posidonia destruction

By Conor Feasey

First captain fined for Posidonia destruction

A captain of a 26m yacht has been fined €20,000 and banned from French waters after destroying a seagrass bed in Côte d'Azur…

The Marseille Maritime Court has fined a yacht captain €20,000 for destroying Posidonia meadows on the Côte d'Azur. This is the first time that ecological damage has been requested for a case affecting Posidonia since anchorage restrictions began in the region in 2016.

The captain was found guilty of having anchored his 26m yacht in prohibited areas three times – twice in Cannes in 2021 and a third time in Saint-Tropez in 2022. The 40-year-old Hungarian, who was absent at the hearing, was also banned from sailing in French territorial waters for 12 months.

According to the court, the captain's actions had caused “significant damage to ecosystems” and it has requested compensation for the ecological damage caused to the seabed.

Often referred to as the lungs of the ocean, Posidonia plays a vital role in the production of oxygen and purification of the seas. It is, however, incredibly fragile and anchoring in the Posidonia seabed can easily cause damage which could take hundreds of years to restore.

To mitigate damage to the seabed, maritime authorities have outlined strict regulations in the Mediterranean specifically for yachts over 24m.  Unlike the Spanish or Italian authorities, France’s Maritime Prefecture sanctions the position of the vessel.

Yachts in breach of these regulations can be fined up to €150,000 and receive a possible ban from French waters. The captain is ultimately responsible. In the case of severe weather conditions, authorities say that safety takes precedence. Vessels can take shelter in forbidden zones (Posidonia meadows), but will likely be required to provide justification for the decision.

In this case, environmental association France Nature Environnement (FNE) has requested the sum of a further €57,163 to be paid for the ecological damage by the captain. FNE aims to give the proceeds of the fine to the Water Agency, a public body leading a project to replant Posidonia meadows.

The assessment of the ecological damage will be the subject of the next hearing on January 26th 2024.

Areas indicating high concentrations of Posidonia meadows

 To view the maps released by the maritime prefecture, click below:

•  Decree 159/2016: Côte Bleue Marine, Martigue, 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 245/2020: Point Fauconnière, Cap Cépet, Baie de Bandol

•  Decree 246/2020: Cap Carqueiranne, Cap Bénat, Golfe de Giens, La Badine

•  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 101/2021: Baie de Cassis, Plage de Bestouan, Plage de la Grande Mer, Cal. De Port Miou

•  Decree 197/2022: Port d'Argelès-sur-Mer, Cap Béar, Cap d'Osne, Port de Banyuls, Cap l'Abeille, Cap Cerbère (Cervera), Port-Vendres, Collioure

•  Decree 250/2022: L'Estaque, Anse de Malmousque, Pointe Rouge, Anse de la Maronaise, Calanqye de Marseilleveyre, Île de Riou, Calanque de Sormiou, Calanques de Morgiou, Sugiton et Pierre Tombées, Calanques d’En Vau et de Port Pin, Frioul (Île Ratonneau), Ouest Pomègues (Frioul), Calanque de Port Pomègues

•  Decree 319/2022: Est-Corse, Port de Bastia, Sud Bastia, Lucciana-Venzolasca, Golfe de Porto-Vecchio

•  Decree 168/2023: Western Corsica

•  Decree 189/2023: Bay of Calvi

For further information, visit the website of the Professional Yachting Association and Préfecture Maritime de la Mediterranée

Profile links

Professional Yachting Association

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