PSAMIDES and Blue Growth Community projects foster the sustainability of cruise and yachting sector in the Mediterranean region through concrete solutions

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The Mediterranean is the first destination area for European cruise passengers, and the second largest market in the world. The growth of the cruise sector is particularly strong: it is the most important sector of the tourism economy in terms of gross value added and job creation. The Mediterranean Sea is also a popular destination for recreational boating. Most of the recreational boats that circulate in the Mediterranean are less than 24 meters long, but the number of large yachts is increasing, in line with global trends. Although their sustainability standards have considerably increased, the significant increasing trends of these sectors, along with several common practices in the sector, pose a serious threat to Mediterranean marine and coastal ecosystems.

To encourage and support the transition of these two sectors towards environmental and social sustainability, PSAMIDES project and the Interreg Med Blue Growth Community  organized together an hybrid capitalization event to highlight key recommendations and to showcase some concrete solutions developed within the framework of these projects. 

The conference took place in the framework of “Escale à Sète”, an international maritime festival happening from the 12th to the 18th of April 2022 in the Port of Sète. About 100 participants from 15 Mediterranean countries attended our Capitalization event, 50 of them remotely. The capitalisation event started with the intervention of two high level speakers, Mr Jean-Claude Gayssot, President of the Port of Sète – Sud de France and Mr Sébastien Denaja, Regional Councillor of the Occitanie Region for the Europe and International Cooperation delegation. 



The event was structured in two main sessions and two roundtables. The first session opened a reflection on the economic and environmental impact of the Cruise & recreational boating in the Mediterranean region:

  • In this regard, Dr Céline Dubreuil, from Plan Bleu, referred to the main environmental and social challenges faced by cruise and recreational boating sectors such as seabed alteration, collision with cetaceans, air pollution or noise pollution while analysing the growth of the cruise and yachting sectors as well as their future perspectives in the Mediterranean. In the end, she presented some measures and some technical innovations to mitigate the environmental impact of Cruise and Recreational boating such as reducing the speed of vessels, raising awareness activities or the use of mobile applications (e.g. Donia).


  • This sector analysis was followed by a description of the main challenges for Small and Medium Ports presented by Enric Martínez, from Ports of Catalonia. During his presentation, he outlined two major aspects of these ports. First, Small and Medium


  • Ports need to change, transitioning from infrastructures to real clusters. Second, these ports should refocus their mission towards services with an added value for users and society. These elements, together with innovation, sustainability, and the need to improve governance figured among his final recommendations. 


  • In the same vein, Linos Voskarides, from the DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the EU Commission, emphasized the EU strategy to boost the creation of jobs in the touristic sector and reduce the negative impact of the pandemic in the sector. It highlighted the EU’s interest to promote a new sustainable approach to tourism and by extension to work towards sustainable cruising. In this sense, he explained the new EU concept for “sustainable Blue Ports” and the intention to play a key role as hubs for sustainable blue economy, circular economy and recreational boating, among others.


  • During the second session, MED Blue Growth Community and PSAMIDES project partners presented their main results as well as guidelines for a common strategy with the aim to achieve a more effective management of tourism flows in the Mediterranean.Subsequently, Mireia Boya from Euroregion Pyrenees Mediterranean, explained how the PSAMIDES project connected the business world with Small & Medium ports through innovative tools and solutions: first, a “bank of resources” with catalogues related to innovation, technologies and services; second, a White Paper on “How to enhance collaborative forms in the MED Marina and S&M ports, towards sustainability, open innovation and competitiveness”; third, the organisation of a “Matchmaking for Port authorities and digital providers”. Thanks to this matchmaking, the project tackled problems of weak specialization, lack of data, outdated infrastructure, low level of investments, and so on. PSAMIDES partners carried out actions towards 3 challenges: Digital transformation; open and collaborative innovation; and building a multi-level approach.


  • Thus, regarding the Blue Growth Community, Dr Céline Dubreuil announced the official release of the Guidelines for the sustainability of cruises and recreational boating in the Mediterranean region”. This work has been carried out by Plan Bleu in the framework of the Interreg Med Blue Growth Community project in partnership with two other Interreg communities: the Biodiversity Protection Community and the Sustainable Tourism Community. A participatory approach was favored for its drafting through the creation of a multi-stakeholder group that brought together more than 100 Mediterranean stakeholders (representatives of port authorities, cruise activities, local authorities, researchers, nautical industry, environmental associations, tourism observatories, MPA managers, consultants). These guidelines provide targeted information on sustainability objectives and sustainable practices for the cruise and leisure boating sectors, and aim to support the main actors involved in promoting the long-term transition of both sectors towards sustainability.


  • Then, Olivier Carmes, General Director of Port de Sète-Sud de France, has presented the decarbonisation strategy of the port. The aim is the greening of the port through creation of infrastructure for sustainable transport, implementation of renewable energies applications, mainly PVs, fleet of electric vehicles, reduction of emissions through green hydrogen use, fuel cell batteries, dockside power connection, innovative solutions (e.g., electric propulsion pilot ship, wastewater treatment) and environmental management. The port of Sète-Sud de France was awarded multiple times for these activities.


In addition, project partners and stakeholders from the private sector took part in two roundtables:

  • During the first roundtable on the “Circular economy in the Cruise & recreational boating sector” discussions, Emmanuel Maniscalco from CPMR introduced the report “A Circular Blue Economy for the Mediterranean: current practices and opportunities” co-produced by the Blue Growth Community and the SwitchMed initiative. This report aims to describe the state of play in the development of circular economy in some blue economic sectors in the Mediterranean and will be published in the coming weeks.  Two innovative solutions highlighted in this report have been presented: first, the rCompositetechnology, a new sustainable composite that solves the problem of Fiberglass end-of life in the boating industry. This innovation was presented by Fabio Bignolini from Northern Light Composites, an innovative SME based in Italy. Second, the “Bathô initiative” for repurposing old boats was explained by Thibault Saint-Olive from Chantier Bathô, a French alternative shipyard.


  • Finally, the second roundtable was devoted to innovative solutions implemented in different small and medium ports from the PSAMIDES project. This roundtable was the occasion to learn more about Mediterranean Small and Medium ports’ last technological innovations. For instance, the “IoT technology”, presented by Fabien Luais from the Port of Sète, is a tool based on sensors able to provide information about energy consumption, boat movements and information on safety and security inside of touristic boats to local port authorities. Another example was the case of the Port of Heraklion in Crete, presented by Minas Seimenis, where the “IoT technology” was installed to transmit data to 3rd parties and introduce a new mobile app service for marinas users. 


To conclude this roundtable, all small and medium ports’ representatives highlighted the need to invest in technological innovations and, most importantly, the necessity to carry on the fruitful cooperation and collaboration initiated during the PSAMIDES project.


Look at the video of the event:



Guidelines for the sustainability of cruises and recreational boating in the Mediterranean region


Plan Bleu
Building the Mediterannean’s future together