Sustainable management of recreational boating and cruising

The RAMOGE area covers the most touristic regions of France, Monaco and Italy and is a major destination for boaters, yachts and cruise ships, which have various types of environmental impacts.

The worst impact that has raised the concerns of the RAMOGE Agreement is the degradation of the Posidonia meadow [1], caused by the development of yachting and due – in particular – to anchoring practices. The mechanical action of anchors and chains rips the leaf bundles and scrapes the rhizomes. The anchoring of a pleasure boat (lowering, staying and raising the anchor) tears up an average of 16 to 34 bundles of Posidonia oceanica.

Two scientific studies were published in 2012, one French and one Italian:

Mouillages de grande plaisance dans la zone RAMOGE de Marseille à Monaco Enjeux et stratégie – Rapport final.

Methodological study on assessing the conservation status of Posidonia meadows subject to heavy anchoring pressure from pleasure craft.

After describing the current situation and identifying anchoring impacts on Posidonia, these studies propose solutions to develop anchoring areas for large yachts, which are useful tools for coastal management bodies in the RAMOGE area and beyond.

(1) In 2006, RAMOGE published a book on Posidonia oceanica entitled “Protection and conservation of Posidonia oceanica meadows”, which can be downloaded in French, Italian and English.

Medpan animation film (love posidonia)

The impact of anchoring on posidonia meadows (andromeda film)

Posidonia meadows (Posidonia oceanica) are key elements for the richness of Mediterranean coastal waters due to the surface covered (20 to 50% of the seabed between 0 and 50 m depth) and, above all, to the fundamental role they play on a biological level in maintaining coastal equilibrium and supporting economic activities.

The most productive ecosystem on the planet
  • It is a breeding area, a nursery or a permanent habitat for many species. It is home to more than 400 plant species and several thousand animal species, thus making Posidonia meadows a biodiversity hotspot.
  • It is an important vector of water oxygenation: 1 m2 of meadow can produce up to 14 litres of oxygen per day!
  • It produces and exports biomass to neighbouring ecosystems and deeper into the sea.
  • It protects from coastal erosion.
  • In 2019, given the development of the yachting and cruise industry in the RAMOGE area, the Agreement believed it was important to carry out a comprehensive study on the two sectors to collect objective data, so as to ensure the long-term sustainable management of the activities.
La Méditerranée, second bassin de la grande plaisance

In 2019, cruises in the Mediterranean accounted for 14.8% of the global cruise industry market, with a sustained annual growth of around 5%. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the business will definitely boom again in the coming years.

The Mediterranean, the second cruise destination for large yachts.
It is estimated that more than 3,000 yachts each year (around 60-70% of the world fleet) visit the “golden triangle” located between the Côte d’Azur, the Ligurian Riviera and Sardinia, mainly from April to October.

Study for the sustainable management of cruise shipping and yachting

The study, published in 2021, takes stock of environmental impacts, describes the regulatory framework of the signatory countries to the Agreement for each activity and, based on factual observations, proposes recommendations and possible improvements.