Cruises on the Mediterranean coast anger many

Mediterranean coast cruises anger many

BET À DAY

“We are activists and you cannot enter the port of Marseille”: In mid-June, in France, a few canoes briefly blocked the largest cruise liner in the world, illustrating the hostility to this polluting industry in the Mediterranean. 

“When we have aberrations like this, which impact us so directly, we can only feel invested with a mission to mobilize”, explains Rémy Yves of the “Stop Croisières” collective, created in May in the second city. of France, on the Mediterranean.

Maritime activities are responsible for 39% of emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NOx) – an air pollutant – in the Marseille metropolis, just behind road traffic (45%), according to the regional air quality observatory AtmoSud.

A cruise ship docked for an hour emits as much as 30,000 vehicles traveling at 30 km/h, the organization estimates.

“Aberration”: the word is hammered by activists to describe the “Wonder of the Seas” that they blocked, property of Royal Caribbean: 362 meters long, 15 swimming pools, a surf simulator, an ice rink, cocktail robots…

An activity “which does not there is no more reason to be in the world of tomorrow,” says Rémy Yves. In yesterday's world, during the first confinement, up to 17 liners had been blocked in Marseille, engines on, in front of amazed local residents.

Discontent is rising and getting organized all over the French Mediterranean coast, as was already the case in Barcelona and the Balearic Islands, in Spain, or in Venice (Italy) which banned large liners in its historic center last year. , listed by UNESCO.

In Nice, residents obtained the departure in June of a noisy and polluting boat.

In July, in Corsica, independence activists delayed the docking of a liner from the tourism giant TUI. During a demonstration a few days later, cruise passengers were greeted on the Mediterranean island by hostile placards: “For a little money, they kill land and sea”.

“This type of stays on polluting megaboats does not correspond to the axes of sustainable tourism”, recognized the president of the Executive Council of Corsica Gilles Simeoni.

In Marseille, a city of 870,000 inhabitants, the left-wing mayor Benoît Payan himself launched a petition against maritime pollution by calling on the State and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), signed to date by around 50,000 people. .

“I couldn't stay idly by, in a crisis situation with a polluted atmosphere and peaks of heat wave” all summer, he confides.

The town hall wants to press to accelerate the process of establishing in the Mediterranean a zone with low emissions of sulfur oxide, devastating for marine life, known as “SECA”, scheduled for 2025.

“The Mediterranean is the last place in the world where you can do anything, that's enough! We are not the dustbin of the world”, storms Mr. Payan who points out that this regulation is already applied in the Baltic Sea or the North.

At the port of Marseille, one of the largest in France, we guard against any “value judgment”; it is estimated to be “advanced” with “increasingly clean cruise ships, a little younger in Marseille (nine years on average compared to 14 elsewhere)”.

“We are working hard on the electrical connection to the quay of two liners simultaneously by 2025,” said Hervé Martel, chairman of the port's executive board, in July.

This season, the cruise ship occupancy rate is estimated at 65% but the Union maritime et fluviale de Marseille-Fos hopes to regain pre-COVID success when up to nearly two million passengers had flocked to Marseille.

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For the anti-cruise companies, which announce a European mobilization against mass tourism at the end of September, the economic benefits of cruises are “derisory” for the places of call.

Some communities advocate and finance the electrification of the quays, already effective to supply ferries to Corsica with energy, in order to reduce fuel consumption and smoke.

But opponents denounce nonsense with enormous quantities of electricity necessary in a period when energy sobriety is rigor.