Open the Marine Protected Areas! They are good for Italy

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Marine Protected Areas - Montecristo
Marine Protected Areas. An obviously deserted cove on the island of Montecristo, which is part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. Boating and mooring are prohibited. The enjoyment of land-based wonders, such as the Royal Villa now home to the Forestry Corps, is severely limited.

The island of Montecristo, the pearl of the Tuscan Archipelago and its protected marine park, is one of the most famous islands in the world, an accomplice to the title of Dumas’ 19th century novel, “The Count of Montecristo.”

Marine Protected Areas banned for boaters

Can you moor there boat? No, you can’t.

So what if we decide to give time to a buoy in the bay of San Fruttuoso, in the protected area of Portofino, to visit the wonderful Abbey preserved by FAI? Maybe it fits better. No, you may have to turn the bow and retrace your steps. Because, as happened in 2023, due to mysterious misunderstandings the berths were almost never available.

All right, so let’s go down to Sicily to Baia Rinella. There we are told that the buoys are there. Too bad you have to make a reservation 24 hours in advance with a request to the Capo Milazzo Protected Area Management Consortium. But how to do it is not well understood.

If we turn the boot and head to the Tremiti Islands, in the protected area of the same name, things are no better. Chaos reigns and the law enforcement agencies themselves do not know which way to turn. Most importantly, it is not clear when and where you can moor.

By changing countries, the music changes. In Croatia we moored at the buoy in protected areas several times. As soon as we arrived, we were given a handbook with rules to follow in the Marine Park, asked if we had any trash to take ashore, and given a receipt. I don’t remember exactly, but for one night for a 12-meter boat we were asked about 40 to 50 euros — in August.

The same thing happened to us in France at the Calanques nature park in Marseille and in Spain when we slept on the unparalleled protected island of Cabrera in the Balearic archipelago.

You may have noticed that we are comparing the situation of Italian Marine Areas with those of other Mediterranean countries. And we come out, we Italians, humiliated.

For this we have carried out an in-depth survey that you will find in upcoming issues of our magazine. Realize the dire situation of Italy’s 32 Protected Areas, understand what opportunity Italy is missing and understand what could be done.

In the meantime, we provide a few suggestions so you can draw your own considerations.

Zero euros for nautical tourism

Italian Marine Protected Areas are among the winners of the 10-million-euro calls under the NRP plan. Do you know what is found among the winning projects? The title of the project that received funding reads thus, “Recovery Center and Activities for the Protection And Reproduction Of The Crested Newt Triturus carnifex.”

But what is the Crested Newt? A species of amphibious salamander. We have nothing against preserving and increasing the reproduction of the Great Crested Newt. Nor anything against other extravagant projects being funded for Marine Protected Areas. But alas, never once do the words “boats, boating, nautical tourism” appear in the plans.

Yet one of the cornerstones for increasing Italy’s revenue-the policy documents we submitted to the European Union in order to obtain PNRR funding-speaks of developing the blue economy. And what could be more eco-friendly than the development of nautical tourism in an ecological key. We Italians have an incomparable natural heritage on the sea, the Marine Protected Areas. A heritage that the world envies us and we do not exploit. A heritage that would coexist perfectly with eco-responsible nautical tourism. This is demonstrated by our Mediterranean neighbors.

Who is not willing to pay more than a berth in a harbor, a buoy that preserves the seabed, does not add concrete to concrete, while enjoying the beauty of islands and coastlines that the whole world envies us? None, I am sure. Too bad you can’t go there today. Perhaps because of the risk of damaging the Crested Newts?

L.O.

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