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Latest: Eco-anchorage regulations update for Mediterranean yacht charters in 2023

By Editorial Team   9 December 2022

In March 2021, France implemented new regulations that prohibit superyachts over 24m (78ft) from anchoring on protected Posidonia seagrass beds. With scant information available and increasing costs to anchor in the region, a number of yachts opted to cruise to other Mediterranean destinations last summer.

Aware of the huge economic impact the regulations are having on the French yachting community, the region believes it can still protect the ancient seagrass beds, while enticing superyachts to its celebrated shores, with a raft of new measures and a more informative approach – crucial for captains, owners and charterers wishing to cruise these waters next summer.

For yacht charterers who are unaware of the seagrass’ almighty environmental role, read on to discover what it is and what the latest measures mean for luxury yacht charter vacations.

What is Posidonia?

Light shining down onto Posidonia seagrass growing in the Mediterranean

Considered by scientists as the “Lung of the Mediterranean”, Posidonia is a crucial part of our ecosystem. 

After losing between 10-20% of Posidonia in the last century, the importance of keeping this vital seagrass species alive is critical. More than 100 hectares of Posidonia have been lost on the French Riviera over recent years, largely caused by the anchoring of superyachts. When a deadweight mooring or anchor is dropped, seagrass meadows are heavily damaged and once destroyed, restoring the seagrass is a timely process as Posidonia only grows 1 cm in height per year.

Eco-anchorage issues for superyachts

A recent talk on Posidonia anchoring rules involving the French maritime authorities Préfecture Maritime de la Méditerranée (PREMAR) saw two representatives state that they are continuing their ongoing mission to protect the vital Mediterranean ecosystem. 

During the talk, they explained that Posidonia is normally found in 30m to 40m (98 ft-131 ft) of water, so yachts may need to anchor more deeply. This is causing issues for those having to anchor down further away from their chosen destination but also now paying to anchor in a location that once was free. During the talk, one captain stated that it is “no problem to pay if the buoys are in the right place.”

Captains have their say

Recently a survey was undertaken by Yacht Club de Monaco where captains were asked about their thoughts and opinions on the new anchoring regulations. 86% said the new restrictions have impacted their cruising plans and an astonishing 89% of captains believe the new rules have had an impact on the number of yachts visiting the region or the length of time they are likely to stay there. 

88% of Captains have also suggested that they feel as though they have not been provided with sufficient alternatives to anchoring in the newly restricted areas, such as mooring buoys. 

What has been the impact of these regulations for yacht charters in the Mediterranean?

The South of France has previously been one of the most sought-after charter locations in the world, encompassing glittering coastlines and chic destinations such as St Tropez and Cannes, there is no doubt that this region is one of the most coveted summertime vacation spots.

Has this changed now these anchoring regulations have been put into place? The short answer is yes. With more yachts struggling to anchor or having to relocate to avoid overcrowded and prohibited Posidonia zones, we have noticed more yacht charters heading to other hotspots such as SardiniaAmalfi Coast and Croatia.

What are French Authorities doing to help?

Balancing environmental and economic concerns regarding yachts anchoring on Posidonia is certainly a delicate act. The aim now is to inform and educate superyacht captains and industry professionals of the various legislations and of course, to spread awareness and protect Posidonia. 

The objective is to help captains as much as possible

Alternative solutions

Besides anchoring further away from shore in deeper waters, many superyachts and captains are turning to the Donia App for assistance. The app gives you free access to the nature of the seabed, with maps and updated regulations for trouble-free mooring. Your captain will be able to book a smart buoy that is automatic and connected without any impact on shallow coasted sea beds, providing you with a solution to anchor near the shore despite the regulations. They cost around 600-1200 euros per day, depending on the size of your boat. 

yacht charter mooring Man helping yacht moor using buoy in Mediterranean
scuba diver installing buoy in Mediterranean waters

DONIA Mooring company has developed an innovative, communicating safe equipped with a locking system for yachts from 24 to 70 meters to benefit from serene anchorages, close to the coast and without impact on the shallow coastal waters.

In the next year, Donia Marine aims to have 15 buoys to ensure easier anchoring for all yachts. 4 buoys will be situated in Cannes around Sainte Marguerite island, 6 buoys in Golfe-Juan near Antibes and an additional 5 buoys in Èze, in close proximity to the superyacht hub of Monaco. Using the free DONIA app to locate Posidonia-friendly mooring, anchoring on sandy areas or opting for buoys are all strongly recommended by French officials.

Our mooring tips are: Aim for sandy areas, easily identifiable by their clear bottom using sonar. Use an appropriate length of chain and warp. Reverse at a maximum of 0.5 knots and raise the anchor with the bow of the boat directly over it.

Further regulations for 2023

Additional French regulations have also been put in place concerning noise and the use of underwater lights, meaning all yachts in French territorial waters are strictly asked to switch off their lights during the night 3 hours after sunset.

What are the long term adjectives?

Aiming to protect 100% of Posidonia habitat by 2030, the hopes of Michel Mallaroni, Port master at Bonifacio Marina and the Mediterranean Posidonia Network (MPN) is to ensure awareness of protecting this important seagrass is spread across numerous countries so everyone is aware of the importance of these regulations. In turn, this should create better communication and education on the issue, allowing charters, captains and all those in the yachting industry to enjoy the glittering Mediterranean as it thrives to its fullest potential.

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Mediterranean crystal blue sea on yacht charter vacation

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