The pressure of tourism, the continuous increase of yacht sizes and the rapid degradation of the Posidonia meadows are the main elements that have led the French Maritime Prefect to develop new policy to further organize anchorages along the Mediterranean coastline. 

As a result of Framework Order n° 123/2019 new local regulations have been signed to protect endangered marine plant species, most notably Posidonia.

What is Posidonia seagrass?

Posidonia seagrass is a highly protected species found in the Mediterranean Sea in depths of between 0 and 40 metres. Known as the ‘lungs of the Mediterranean’, it is considered by scientists as among the most representative and important Mediterranean shoreline ecosystems.

Posidonia meadows play a number of key functions: they produce and export large amount of organic matter and oxygen, form complex ecosystems supporting a high level of biodiversity, represent areas of refuge and nursery for fish and invertebrates, reduce sedimentation and stabilize the seabed reducing coastal erosion.

Posidonia only grows a few millimetres per year and once destroyed it cannot be restored. Although it represents a protected species since 1988, nowadays it is highly threatened. Infact scientists assert that Posidonia meadows in the Mediterranean have decreased irreparably by 33.5% in the last fifty years, due to coastal activity, with physical damage from yachts anchorage contributing significantly.

That’s why the French Maritime Prefect has developped new environmental protection anchoring regulations along the Mediterranean coastline.

New French Anchoring Regulations

The anchoring restrictions along the French Mediterranean Coast are regulated by the following decrees:

  • Decree n° 155/2016 organizes the anchoring of large vessels (over 45 meters). It creates anchoring areas for these vessels and an authorization or declaration regime.
  • Decree n° 123/2019 sets the general framework for anchoring and stopping of vessels in the French territorial waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • New local regulations decline the Decree n° 123/2019 by establishing a coherent system of anchoring and stopping areas along the coastline for vessels from 24 meters.

The last October the Vice-Admiral Laurent Isnard, Maritime Prefect for the Mediterranean, signed the first decrees regulating the anchoring of vessels of 20 or 24 metres and over for the Alpes-Maritimes department. These decrees identify the areas where anchoring is prohibited with two key objectives for the Mediterranean: to protect the Posidonia meadow, which is essential to the ecosystem and underwater biodiversity, and to reinforce safety at sea. The areas where anchoring is prohibited will henceforth be marked on the SHOM charts, which every yachtsman is obliged to have on board, and checks will be carried out by the authorised agents of the State administrations at sea.

The aim of those new regulations is to balance the various interests, both public and private, by taking into account the economic weight of the yachting industry whilst protecting marine habitats.

Please find here below all the local environmental legislastion.

anchoring regulations map
photo credit: yachting pages
ZoneDecree Date
From the mouth of the Var river to the limits of the French,
Monegasque and Italian territorial waters
204/2020 October 2020
From the pointe de l’Aiguille to the mouth of the Var river205/2020 October 2020
From the old port of Saint-Raphaël to the pointe de l’Aiguille249/2020 December 2020
From the Cap Pinet to the pointe de Saint Aygulf248/2020 December 2020
From the Cap Bénat to the pointe lof the Bonne Terrasse247/2020 December 2020
From the Cap Carqueiranne to the Cap Bénat246/2020 December 2020
From the pointe Fauconnière to the Cap Cépet245/2020 December 2020
Perimeter of the La Ciotat bay – abolished and replaced by n° 099/2021011/2021 January 2021
Perimeter of the Calanques National Park – new099/2021 May 2021
Perimeter of the N2000 site « côte bleue marine »159/2016 July 2016
Off the coast of the Hérault department020/2021 February 2021
Off the coast of the Pyrénées-Orientales department221/2020 November 2020
Perimeter of the Bouches de Bonifacio reserve206/2020 October 2020
Perimeter of the Natural Marine Park of the Cap Corse and the Agriat – new095/2021 May 2021

In addition to the above regulations, the French Maritime Prefect is strongly encouraging local alternatives to anchoring, such as the light anchorage and equipment zones, which are equipped with ecological equipment to allow anchoring that is not destructive to the Posidonia. This will enable yacht Captains to enjoy a safe and eco-friendly mooring.

For more information we invite to visit the website of the Préfecture Maritime de la Mediterranée.

Should you need any further assistance do not hesitate to ask. We remain always at your disposal!