I am happy to see that in recent days there is a robot floating in the water at Port Vauban. This small anti-pollution robot is called GOBIE, and is a marine vacuum cleaner for waste and surface hydrocarbons.
Thanks to a pump it creates a slight current in order to attract waste towards a receiving bag. It’s plugged into a shore power outlet, is fully autonomous and can operate 24 hours a day. The aim is to move it around the port to ensure cleanliness of the water, which is desperately needed at Port Vauban.
Cleaning waste from the water in Port Vauban
Port Vauban is a certified harbour for the European ‘Clean Harbours’ programme so it’s good to see they adhere to a certification that has annual monitoring and certification that is reviewed every three years.
Many years ago, I tried to get interest from the port to sponsor and install a Seabin which is now a very well known company in the marine industry. The Seabin catches an estimated 1.5 tons of marine debris per year (depending on weather and debris volumes) including microfibres, fuel, oil and micro plastics down to 2 mm small. The catch bag has the capacity to hold up to 20kgs and can be changed multiple times per day.
Aside from the physical mechanics of having a Seabin unit capable of displacing 25,000 litres of water a day and removing trash from the water, Port Vauban would have had the opportunity to monitor marine trash and get the yachting community thinking about the trash in the water. At that time, it was deemed too expensive by the port and as we know here in France the impact of local and regional decision-making can be time-consuming. Therefore sadly, it’s another challenge relating to the Antibes Yachting community that comes down to individuals or community funding. My perspective: What exactly is the cost they dedicate annually on care and cleanliness of the marina environment?
One of the challenges the port stated was the consideration for who would be responsible for cleaning the bags of collected waste and maintenance of the unit. Taking ownership and responsibility for cleaner waterways is the first step. Each Seabin client has its own waste service provider and management plan; I have never seen any detailed public information relating to the recycling procedure or waste management strategy at Port Vauban – you can find recycling bins all along the IYCA, opposite the Prè des Pêcheurs square near old town and the main recycling bins and signage on the port side by the Société des Régates d’Antibes. Note: This ‘Point Propre’ is open from Tuesday to Friday from 9am to midday; all other times you need to request access from the port office.
Allocating cleaning and maintenance staff of in-water units hasn’t been an issue for other marinas – there are over 850 Seabin units in operation worldwide including other French ports in Golfe Juan, La Ciotat, La Grande Motte and YCPR Port de la Pointe Rouge Marseille.
This post isn’t about whether one machine, device or initiative is better than the other. We can all take responsibility and make positive actions to support the health and quality of our marine environment here in Antibes and the greater Côte d’Azur region. As well as technological devices, we have to approach the problem with science and education so the community and industry is engaged to change.
I look forward to following the updates about the GOBIE unit at Port Vauban. If anyone has any further information on the manufacturer of the GOBIE let me know in the comments below!
Clean Harbours / Ports Propres: https://www.ports-propres.org/en/ports-certifies/06-port-vauban/
Clean Superyacht Marina Campaign: https://www.cleansuperyachtmarina.com