The Ongoing Anchorage Regulations: French Riviera

May 13, 2021 | News, Port Vauban

There has been much discussion about the anchorage regulations in southern France, particularly for yachts 24-metres+.

As well, since November 2020 non-Schengen flagged vessels were not permitted to anchor in French Mediterranean waters.  Not a particularly bright outcome leading into a summer where most of the Mediterranean yachting season was affected by lockdown last year.

May Update

From Wednesday May 12, the Préfecture Maritime has now changed the rules concerning l’arrête PREMAR 238/2020 of 30 November 2020.

They issued decree n° 90/2021 which provides for the end of the ban on stopping or anchoring vessels flying the flag outside Schengen.

Note: Decree n°238/2020 still remains in force concerning the rules for the organisation of nautical events, those of crew relief, bunkering at sea and navigation of cruise ships and non-regular passenger ships.

The dispositions in article 4 of the decree n° 238/2020 have been deleted and replaced with following rule:

  • All foreign flagged vessels are authorised to carry out their right of inoffensive passage to cross French territorial waters or leave to high seas, in a continuous and rapid manner.

The points to remember concerning the end of the ban on anchoring and stopping of vessels flying non-Schengen flags, vessels are authorised to reach :

  • A home port situated on the French Mediterranean coastline.
  • A shipyard subject to having a signed repair contract with the yard.
  • While waiting to enter a port or yard, yachts are allowed to stop or anchor, along the French Mediterranean coastline, after informing the maritime authority (semaphore/lighthouse) or having obtained anchorage permission as per dispositions in decree n° 155/2016 of 24 June 2016.  This is commonly done on VHF channel 16.
  • Still waiting to enter a port or a shipyard, any vessel over 45-meters flying a foreign flag can also stop again or anchor, but in compliance with the decree n° 155/2016 which requires an authorisation from the maritime authority (this rule prior to navigation restrictions linked to the pandemic is known to superyachts who cruise in the Mediterranean).

How To Find The Arrêtes Prefectoral (decrees) On The Prémar Website

The Préfecture Maritime (Prémar) website is not user-friendly, and even more so if you don’t understand French.  Here is how you find the official announcements on the website:

  1. Go to ‘Publications’.
  2. In the dropdown menu, go to ‘Recueil des actes administrative’.
  3. In the ‘Arrêtes Archives’ search box, type in the number of your decree in the ‘Recherche par numéro’ box.  The format must be YYYY-MMM (year + month).  For example, the latest announcement you would type in 2021-090.
To save you time, here’s the links below to the decrees affected by this week’s announcement:

Decree n° 90/2021 lifting the ban on the anchoring of yachts flying a flag outside Schengen:

Decree n° 155/2016 which regulates (since 2016) the anchoring of vessels 45-metres+:

The Posidonia Debate

Additionally, superyachts are concerned about the impact on yacht charters that will be posed by the Posidonia regulations. Most yachting professionals I have spoken to appreciate the need for awareness of the Posidonia seagrass and understand the impact of anchorage.  However, it’s deemed that the superyacht industry has been unfairly targeted.

French association SOS Navigation highlights that other factors contribute to Posidonia damage such as aquaculture, chemical contaminants, trawling and coastal development.  It should be noted that zones of high anchorage such as the Lérins Islands have abundant Posidonia meadows.

Yachting professionals need to open awareness on questions which will impact them directly and immediately:

  • Where can yacht owners and charterers anchor this year?
  • If they can’t anchor, where will they go?
  • How many yachts have a chain long enough to anchor outside of Posidonia beds?
  • And if they change from the French Mediterranean region, how long will I be able to run my (agent, broker, supplier) business before going bankrupt ?

Far from sanctioning superyacht clientele, these measures accelerate their departure towards countries and other Mediterranean marinas which are already welcoming them with open arms. Departures have already been recorded and announced for 2021 when yachting companies are all already suffering from the situation linked to the pandemic.

A petition has been launched to conduct a proper survey and consultation to measure the true impact of yachting and other factors.  You can download and/or sign the Posidonia petition here (in French and English versions):  Posidonia Petition 

You can also read my post here:  Posidonia anchoring regulations 

Photo credit: Pinterest


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