150 people gathered in Ajaccio to protest cruise ship stopovers

The mobilization was organized by the Terra coordination, bringing together eleven associations for the defense of the environment and health. Activists and elected officials from Core in Fronte, Femu a Corsica and the PNC were also present.

This Wednesday morning, some 150 people gathered at the call of the Terra coordination, which brings together eleven associations for the defense of the environment and health.

Mobilization motto: say no to the increasing number of cruise ship stopovers in the port of Ajaccio. On the cardboard banners, the slogans leave little room for ambiguity:

“Criminal cruises”, “Our lives are worth more than your money”, “Not assisting a planet in danger”, “The rich take cruises, the poor take cancers”.

In the audience, in addition to those accustomed to the mobilizations on the ground initiated by the associations, we noted the presence of activists and elected politicians, in particular from the nationalist parties Femu a Corsica, Core in Fronte and PNC.

The latter had already organized, last Saturday, a “symbolic action” by blocking the berth of the Mein Schiff II, a 263-meter ship with a capacity for more than 1,800 passengers, for an hour.

This year, the actions have been more numerous and rightly so, the cruise ships parade every day or almost in the port of Ajaccio. Often very large units to accommodate several thousand passengers.

According to figures from the Collectivity of Corsica, 473 stopovers are scheduled for 2022, including 228 in Ajaccio.

A very important stroke of luck for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) of Corse-du-Sud, manager of the 4 commercial ports of Pumonte (which are owned by the Community of Corsica), since the giants of the seas must pay between 10,000 and 30,000 euros for the right to make a stopover in the imperial city.

If the impact studies are not numerous and the economic benefits are not accurately quantified, some sectors also claim to benefit from this type of tourism: coach operators, outdoor activities, adventure parks, guides, in particular.

“We are not against tourism, it would be very simplistic to present it like thissays Véronique Pietri, Territorial Advisor of Core in Fronte present at the event. What we ask for is clarification: there are too many uncertainties. We would like to know exactly what the environmental impact of these numerous scales is and to know in more detail the economic repercussions. We cannot let anything happen with consequences on our health so that some benefit from it “.

Public health is also what keeps Dr. Sauveur Merlinghi, president of the Corse-du-Sud cancer league, busy:“We are here today to say ¡Avà Enough! What we consume comes from water, comes from the air, comes from the ground! Everything that alters its quality matters to us because it has consequences for our health. We cannot guarantee tomorrow’s health” . if we do not do what is necessary to preserve the environment”.

In the ranks of the protesters, he assures himself, it is not a question of asking for the ban on cruise ships but of regulatingr your tickets.

“In the immediate future we are asking for fuel controls and for the Mediterranean to become a controlled emissions zone (ECA)”, which would allow the sulfur content of fuels to be reduced to 0.1% (today the amount is limited to 0.5%, editor’s note) says Muriel Segondy, activist of the association for the defense of the environment “LE GARDE”.

This new standard, already in force in North America and the North Sea, should be applicable from 2025 in the Mediterranean. A “difference in treatment” between citizens that offends the protesters.

To “mark the occasion”, some demonstrators decided to pass in front of the ICC facilities, shouting “CCI, enough!” The procession passes in front of an assembly of foreign tourists disembarking from cruise ships, disconcerted by the mobilization.

“We chose not to travel in a large unit, because small boats are more human-sized and have a more measured impact on the environment, explain Sonia and Elisa, two Austrian tourists. Polluting less is a selling point of cruises, we pay attention to that when we decide to embark. But we can understand that people protest, if there are too many boats in the city. It is up to the political authorities to restrict their number.”

For his part, Stéphane Sbraggia, the new mayor of Ajaccio, announced his position through a press release.

It invokes the need not to oppose the challenges that await our territory (environmental cause and economic development) and proposes solutions to support sustainable tourism, such as “negotiating specifications with maritime companies” or “prohibiting access to older boats” . .

When consulted, the ICC leaders did not want to comment or give details about the conditions for receiving cruise ships in the port of Ajaccio.

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