In recent years, a new environmental certification system, has emerged in France, created to respond to tonnes of damaging run-off and toxic waste produced in marinas.
The only European certification of this nature which is specific to the marina profession, Ports Propres or The European Clean Harbour Guidelines certification, guarantees and promotes good environmental management in marinas, reflecting a genuine commitment on the part of marina managers to work towards the sustainable development of coastal and marine activities and to preserving aquatic environments.
Mostly based in the south-eastern region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, the project is also attracting marinas on the Atlantic coast with three TransEurope Marinas members already certified (La Rochelle, Moulin Blanc/Marina du Château and Roscoff).
The Ports Propres approach comprises five main components:
- Environmental assessment
- Creating the means to combat chronic pollution
- Methods of controlling accidental fuel or oil spills and reducing water and energy use
- Environmental management training for marina staff
- Ensuring boater awareness of environmental management practices
PORT DE PLAISANCE DE LA ROCHELLE
In La Rochelle, a city already running an ambitious project to be carbon-zero by 2040, the marina management team found that despite years of adhering to existing environmental certification schemes, they needed to send a more focussed message to their berth-holders.
The marina holds 4 Gold Anchors, a global marina accreditation administered by The Yacht Harbour Association (TYHA) in the UK and the Marina Industries Association (MIA) in Australia, which already implies considerable commitment to environmental practices. As a complement to this, the Ports Propres scheme was perceived to resonate with a more domestic audience.
Responsible environmental behaviour is encouraged on a routine basis in the marina, and involves staff, boaters and onsite nautical professionals. Examples are as follows:
- The collection and selective sorting of 11 types of waste and free distribution of classification bags to boats.
- Collection and treatment of contaminated yard run-off
- Free self-service pump-out for bilge water and other grey and black water tanks.
- An environmental manager within the port’s administrative team
- Eco-citizen walks organised all year round in partnership with the association Echo-Mer, to learn more about the marina’s environmental challenges. (Dates and information posted on website)
- Sale of biodegradable products (cleaners, dishwashing liquid, detergent, sprays, shampoo, shower gels, soaps…) at the Marina Office.
- Daily intervention of the blue brigades in charge of cleaning the port (macro-waste)
- Awareness-raising actions on pontoons during the high season with the distribution of containers for used batteries, ashtrays for use on board, waste sorting bags.
- Promotion of ecological modes of transport (bicycle, bus, sea bus, electric vehicles, etc.)
A good communication strategy is essential, and the port employs various channels to make sure that all members of the wider marina community are made aware, including their official marina guide, a visitor brochure (produced in French, English and German), website, newsletters and various social networks.
MARINA DU MOULIN BLANC / MARINA DU CHÂTEAU
Brest Marinas already held the ISO 14001 certification, but found that it didn’t serve to engage the interest and engagement of their berth-holders and visitors, who play a key role in ensuring a clean and healthy environment. After much consideration, they decided to apply to the Ports Propres programme, this being more specifically adapted to their facilities and environment.
The first major operation was a complete replacement of the boatyard water treatment facilities in Moulin Blanc, carried out in conjunction with the national water regulatory authorities, who set the standards for discharging treated water.
Further to assisting with organising exhibitions to help give visibility to the work of visiting eco-explorer vessels, on a more basic level, they have run campaigns to reduce water use, encourage recycling and buying locally and to promote the use of non-contaminant products on board. The marinas have also collaborated with the nearby Cèdre association, a state-approved research and resource centre, in studying how pollutants (cotton buds, cigarette butts, polystyrene) break down in seawater.
With the positive news that sustainability is gaining increasing traction in marinas, this appears to be a genuine step in the right direction. We look forward to learning more about the resulting benefits as regards the quality of local waters.
Thanks to the Port de Plaisance de La Rochelle and the Marinas de Brest for their helpful insight.