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PGEM vs. State of Health Emergency : lucid indignation

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PGEM vs. State of Health Emergency : lucid indignation.


This new confinement in French Polynesia (but is it really a confinement when we see that the only reason for a waiver certificate of displacement that is not listed is: "to go and see the buddies"!) has inevitably had its share of nonsense.
About a week after the date of August 23, 2021 (entry in the confinement), the firstquestions raised by boaters, notably Anglo-Saxons, appeared on the social networks: around Moorea, the Municipal Police asked them to move their sailboat because of the 48 hours limit in authorized anchorage on sand as mandated by the PGEM.

However, during the previous containment of 2019, around Moorea, the Municipal Police had indeed come to see the sailboats at anchor to inform them that the PGEM was suspended and that the containment, as an exceptional measure, prevailed. It was then compulsory to stay on anchor and not to move ("We tolerate that you splash around your sailboat." ... different confinement, different rules).
How is the current situation different?
Why should sailboats in Moorea be allowed to move around the island while the population is confined? I don't even specify "land population", as if the two had to be differentiated in a Manichean vision. Intolerable and inconceivable.
Because until proven otherwise, sailors are indeed part of the wider population of French Polynesia, so it would seem that they are subject to confinement, no?

Of course, civic-mindedness and common sense are everyone's business. Some sailboats also move of their own free will. Were a boater decide to move despite the prohibition, it may be his choice, but he knows he may be liable to a fine or worse . On the other hand, the fact that an authority, even a local one, forces them to move during the confinement is a matter of concern.


The administrative process to get an answer from the competent authorities has confirmed what common sense would suggest. The Adviser for the action of the State at sea (Part of the command of the maritime zones of French Polynesia and Pacific Ocean) as well as the Administrator of the maritime affairs and Deputy to the head of the service of the maritime affairs of Polynesia clearly answered me NO to the movements around Moorea, confirming this would be contrary to the rules of confinement.

Therefore, what to think of the decision of the Moorea's Township ?
The mayor of Moorea, whose vision of the world has become even more elegant, perhaps did not understand the statutes of a confinement or maybe he had other ideas in mind. This man has the merit of constancy in any case.
My investigation did not stop there because when I contacted the Polynesian Directorate of Maritime Affairs, I was told that I could not be given an answer for the moment because the Director had made a request to the High Commission to know if the State of Emergency took precedence over the PGEM!
In other words, the DPAM does not know if the PGEM of the small township of Moorea is less important than a State of Health Emergency decreed by the French State?
It seems obvious to me that any citizen is able to question this logic, isn't it?

Each one, according to his look at life, is free to judge this action of the Commune of Moorea. Some may applaud, others may be indignant, many may not care.
It is easy to imagine the reaction of the residents living by the sea or on high ground, seeing sailboats moving in the lagoon or around Moorea. They are confined but not the boaters? Do they know, for one moment, that many of these boaters were "forced" to move?

That's all it takes for dozens of "public prosecutors on social networks" to pour out their usual poetry on the "sailors". But here again, the debate is unfortunately distorted. And it will not be necessary to wait for an official and public denial of the State towards the Mayor of Moorea.
The damage will have been done. Let us dare to believe that it was not a deliberate maneuver of this Mayor.

"Because, in the end, the major risk is that everything ends up being the same, that the amalgam prevails and that the confusion overwhelms the minds. Short-sighted politicians are only waiting for that, to blur our disgust, to smooth our resistances; let's not make them this offer and let's be discriminating for once.
Lucid indignation is the surest defence. *

a sailor who is fed up


* Cédric Sapin-Defour - February 10, 2019

Vigilantism in French Polynesia

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[WARNING: the term "locals" used here means "inhabitants of Polynesia," whether Polynesian, French or of any other origin]
The quotes in quotation marks in this post were taken from this article in La Relève and La Peste, published on August 5, 2021.

Gilles Favarel-Garrigues and Laurent Gayer, two researchers from the CNRS, have published an investigation on "self-proclaimed vigilantes". They even published a book, in the form of an essay, in May 2021: Fiers de punir - Le monde des justiciers hors-la-loi.

In view of the various articles and analyses in this essay, it appears, unfortunately, a flagrant similarity with what can happen concerning yachting in French Polynesia.

Indeed, in view of the numerous incidents or "clashes" involving sailboats and locals (notably on Raiatea, again very recently, Haapiti, Huahine or at the airport anchorage), one notices "a growing craze for vigilantism, that is to say, for the use of extra-legal methods, on the part of ordinary citizens, in order to maintain order or to render justice by themselves, in response to a presumed failure of the police and judicial apparatus.

That there is a concern or rather vagueness (legal, legislative, or otherwise) regarding yachting in French Polynesia, no one seems to deny. It seems necessary to clarify all this very quickly.

For several years now, these people, organized in groups or even in associations, seem to have grown in size. "Exasperated by the alleged laxity of the courts, the self-proclaimed vigilantes strive to punish the so-called troublemakers by themselves. Breaking the law to maintain order, they improvise themselves as detectives, judges and executioners. Adept at lynching and other spectacular punishments, they find a new audience on social networks. [The development of these new information and communication technologies increases the risk of self-justice by raising intense emotions, spreading anxiety-provoking rumors and increasing the temptation to play detective, alone or in a group, with all the risks of blunder that this entails.
Just look at the high level of diatribe that is often spilled on social networks regarding boaters. For example, during the explosion of a sailboat in Huahine last June, very high local philosophers of the "fessebouquienne" thinking reacted on the spot and even went so far as to hope that there would be deaths! ... even before knowing that there had indeed been one.
Through the use of these networks in particular, these so-called righters of wrongs "address themselves to a public, taken to task, from which they expect the validation of their controversial actions". It is even possible to envisage that "these vigilantes seek the approval, at least tacit, of official authorities."
Obviously, even if the levels of "vigilantism" reached here in French Polynesia have absolutely nothing to do in intensity with those described in the book (in Russia, Nigeria, India, ...), the growth of this practice is still cause for concern and especially for question.

In July 2019, in Raiatea towards Miri Miri, boaters were clearly verbally assaulted and the act of these "local sheriffs" were not far away in view of the material brought for the "discussion": monseigneur clip and hunting knife.

At the end of July 2021, some Anglo-Saxon nationals anchored their sailboat in Raiatea. Here is their testimony: "Today, we dropped anchor in a bay west of Raiatea to visit a local restaurant for lunch. Since there was no mooring, we anchored in deep water, well away from the reef. When we returned about two and a half hours later, one of our lines had been cut. It was part of the apparatus for lifting the dinghy. A local boat approached and a young man told us that this was a private bay and we could not anchor. He denied any knowledge of the cut line."

Two weeks later here is what this same person relates about his visit to the gendarmerie in Uturoa:
"Today I went to the Gendarmerie Nationale in Uturoa, Raiatea, to report last week's incident. I had in my possession my story translated into French. The female officer told me that I had to pay a fee to anchor and that it was a private bay (Baie Pufau). I was surprised and said that we were not aware of this fee and that I had never heard that from anyone else. She spoke little English and her superior came out. He spoke better English and said there was a tax. He said the national government should tell the cruise lines. He said we could only anchor for two nights anywhere. I asked what was going to be done about the damage and reluctantly the young officer wrote up an account that only vaguely resembled mine. I was directed to the DPAM, presumably to pay the costs. I felt like the criminal.
At DPAM, a very nice lady told me that there was no fee, but that we could only anchor for two nights anywhere in the lagoon. She said that Pufau Bay is not private but it is a very bad place!
There is nothing more I can do. We both feel unwelcome and distressed."

A private bay??? ... and to think that boaters are accused of "illegal occupation of public property". What about this ILLEGAL APPROPRIATION of the public domain! And strangely, the "we" there does nothing! It seems that these self-proclaimed vigilantes can act with impunity ... in any case, in view of the resurgence of this type of act, it raises questions.
What can we say about the way boaters are received in some police stations which, obviously, do not have the right information. Let's not dare to imagine that they are unwilling to do so. Here again, this raises questions.

It is essential to avoid the establishment of a "lagoon Wild West". On the whole, boaters are understanding and ready to respect the rules, but they must be explicit, respectful and even agreed upon.


To illustrate these remarks with a simple example, here are excerpts from an article published in the Dépêche de Tahiti, on April 22, 2021
"Last weekend, our clients were attacked. Three weeks ago, a sailor who had taken his dinghy to go shopping on the island had his zodiac cut to pieces by a guy on a jet ski who came from the dock to the boat to vandalize it. A month ago, it was a septuagenarian who had his face smashed. In February, it was my skipper who was verbally assaulted, then physically, in front of her customers, by a resident who did not want her to take water ... By not doing anything, there will be a real drama, for sure, "says the manager.
"When the skipper filed a complaint with the police after her attack, the police, who had found the assailant and handcuffed him to hear him, released him while the skipper was still telling the facts. And it was the same person who sabotaged the zodiac. On Huahine everyone knows who knows, the authorities too, but we let it happen. It's normal to be beaten up, to have your equipment broken".

And unfortunately, this does not only concern the yachting industry:
- around 2010, knocked down on an ATV by a car and then assaulted with a hammer) at the end of the ferry in Tahiti (Papenoo→Mataia) for passing under the chain on the "normal" road ;
- more recently, in this case, the victims - a couple with a building permit - want to be able to continue the construction of their fare without hindrance. According to the couple's lawyer, "They are being barred from the road in a totally abusive manner! One does not take justice into one's own hands". As for the local residents, they believe that the couple, by their haste to carry out the work, would have disregarded their rights."

the little hummingbird of theAVP

The problem of wrecked sailboats

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Reflection following the three publications on two wrecks of sailing ships in Taravao (Presqu'île de Tahiti) and Pao Pao (Moorea)
Articles from Polynésiela1ère, La Dépêche de Tahiti and Tahiti Infos.


WARNING: the AVP does not support in any way these wrecks of abandoned sailboats, on the contrary, and does not seek to exonerate their owners (most often residents and not "foreigners passing through" who abandon their boat); the fact of leaving one's sailboat abandoned and letting other people worry about it is an irresponsible and unacceptable act


At the AVP, the debate has been invited lately on whether or not to put these three articles online, which clearly do not make a good advertisement for yachting in Polynesia. And yet, it seems that we have to talk about it.

Not to defend this kind of indefensible, odious and intolerable act for any good citizen who respects himself, or even for any good eco-citizen who respects himself.
No ... unfortunately, the need to talk about it is once again insidiously linked to the generalization that is made of a subject and especially the lack of a systemic vision of this same subject.

As we know, currently, "bashing boaters" is a fashionable pastime. So yes, to be indignant about these two cases of wrecks is normal and everybody is obviously in agreement on the subject ... but why then "to shoot in the dark" on the whole of the yachting industry when it concerns only some very particular cases?

Oh yes ... of course ... these wrecks are visible to everyone!

But what about the numerous car wrecks in the valleys, sometimes even covered with vegetation because they have been there for so long?

We see them much less than the sailboats, it is true ... so it is so much easier to forget them. We don't see them, so everything is fine. So, from there to imagine that they can pollute ... impossible!

Yes, the wrecks of these two sailboats (and there are others) represent a big pollution concern, but why only talk about these sailboats? The various associations are getting up to arms, scandalized by these sailboats (and rightly so!), but not by the numerous car wrecks?

Don't tell me that there are no more batteries, no more oil, no more fuel, no more toxicity in these cars... I will snicker softly.

Do we have to explain again the possible pollution, far from being negligible, of these cars that will reach the ground, then the water table and then inevitably the lagoon?

"It pollutes the sea, and it's not a pretty sight! It pollutes the sea, and it's not a pretty sight," said one resident.

"We are afraid for the children, for the fishermen. [...]. There is oil, batteries. It sucks! "

"[...] has been threatening the surrounding marine biodiversity for three months. "

These excerpts from an article seem to me quite appropriate for the problem of car wrecks on the valley floor too, don't they? Whether the biodiversity is marine or terrestrial, we must protect it.

Obviously, we have to manage these wrecks, but please, take the problem as a whole: whether it is a "sailboat" or a "car" wreck, the root of the problem is ecological and affects all citizens. It is not the trial of boating that must be done, but the trial of individual incivilities. As this article from February 2018 reminds us, with in particular the interview of the President of the AVP on this subject at the bottom of the article.
In addition, it should also be remembered that the vast majority of sailboats are in good condition and are most often insured by their owners.

For the sake of completeness, it is necessary to point out the initiatives of some municipalities and even of the Territory, to tackle the problem of these carcasses, especially from 2014 to 2016. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of work to be done ... and not much is missing to make it possible for the wrecks of sailboats.
Article Polynésiela1ère - Articles Tahiti Infos 1 and 2 - Article LaDépêche

This is why projects such as "L'atelier'Ecup du Fenua", whose initiative is to remove wrecks on land and sea at a lower cost, must be supported and helped by the Territory, by associations such as the AVP, by the communes, ... It is up to each one to make their own eco-responsible decisions.

Already in 2019, the AVP had made a file on the possible management of these wrecks.

The AVP has been asking for years for the implementation of a "Cruising permit" (a tax), which would allow the financing of this "depollution" in part. It is time for the government to set up this tax in order to be able to activate the financial means ... as apparently the legal side is solved because they seem to be able to deprive the ownership of a ship in one month.


the little hummingbird of the AVP


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"Wreck" looting

Following recent events in French Polynesia, and according to an all-too-widespread idea, a boat stranded on the coast does not belong to the person or those who find it. In France, according to Decree 61-1547 of 26 December 1961 setting the regime for sea wrecks, anyone who discovers a wreck is obliged, to the extent possible, to bring it to safety, including to place it out of the sea. Within 48 hours of the discovery or arrival at the first port if the wreck age has been found at sea, it must report it to the Maritime Affairs Administrator or his representative. The owner then has 3 months from the notification of the discovery or rescue of the wreckto claim his property. The time after which the wreck can be sold, for the benefit of the state.

This implies, therefore, that anyone who engages in the plundering of an object washed up on the coast is liable to be subject to criminal prosecution, because it is theft no more and no less.

The "right to break" has not been short since 1682, but the conventional wisdom is hard-skinned.

Based on an article by Delphine Fleury published in Sailing and Sailing No. 02893

Moorea: My heart is bruised…

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My heart is bruised today, because the sounds of pontoons report that The island of Moorea is currently being flown over by an ominous bird. Yes, my friends, there is a bad omen in our sky that jeopardizes the respect of our freedom for all.

So a little light in my heart tells me that you have to react and sound an alarm to avoid a huge mistake. My only weapons: my excessive love for the ocean on which I have lived for fifteen years, and my pen, which I hope to handle with enough sincerity to explain to you who are these people who go to the sea and who are now accused of polluting or destroying the lagoons , and to which we want to ban moorings around the island of Moorea.

Whether we are earthlings, sailors, air, or in between, we are all concerned.

Drawing by Nilo Gima: Moorea boaters really polluters?

Everyone knows that our planet is not just sick, it is in agony. Global warming, air pollution, destruction of the ozone layer, deforestation, intensive fishing and non-compliance with the ocean with its disastrous consequences. The latest: the discovery of a continent of plastic residues in the middle of the oceans! The truth is that we are all directly responsible. How many plates, plastic cutlery, bottles and other waste end up in our lagoons, drained by the current in the passes? Of course we don't care, since it goes offshore. How many of us bathe after putting on sunscreen that ignores the disastrous effects on our corals? How many poorly regulated cars pollute the skies of our Polynesia every day without any real concern because the wind of the Alizés takes care of taking the gas elsewhere. How many seaside houses do not yet have septic tanks and dump their in our turquoise waters in the greatest carelessness because in any way, there is the current. How many hotels evacuate their sewers by pipelines offshore, how many big cruise ships come to anchor in our bays with the pollution they cause! And today they want to make us believe that we should ban sailboats from anchoring our lagoons because they pollute? How, for example, can we prohibit the sailboats from anchoring Maharepa and at the same time allow large cruise ships to anchor in Cook Bay when we know that only one of these vessels can emit as many fine particles as a million cars!
Aren't the elected officials behind this initiative mistaken in making sailboats their scapegoat?

Because I know them well, I know them well because I am part of it myself. Sailboats are one of the cleanest and most environmentally friendly modes of locomotion because a sailboat by definition moves with the wind and uses its engine only to make its last manoeuvre at anchor. It produces its energy through the sun and not by using a thermal power plant, because we are mostly equipped with solar panels. We produce our fresh water from the sea thanks to the desanilizer or collect rainwater. Contrary to what can be said, we are the first to preserve corals because we always choose sand bottoms to anchor, because they offer the best hold and we are safe there. Similarly, we are the first to love the ocean and pamper its coral garden, because we are aware of the extraordinary opportunity we have to still be able to swim above with our children. About that. I do not know a sailboat annex that does not stop to retrieve a plastic bottle that floats in its path, and believe me, there are! "Yes, but boaters don't pay taxes and take advantage of our garbage cans to deposit their waste, they are profiteers who live naked on their boats!" How many times have I read this kind of argument on social media? Error, those like me who arrived by sea and settled in Polynesia all paid a substantial tax to Papeetiser their boat. The same is true for those who buy a boat on site, they must pay a property tax (5% of the value of the boat). For the others, those passing through, I agree, and solutions have been presented by the association of boaters in Polynesia, such as the perception of a right of navigation accompanied by a small booklet recalling the rules of good conduct. In response to all these efforts, all these proposals, Moorea's elected representatives simply proposed to ban boaters from mooring without even specifying the reason for such a decision.

So rather than ban, wouldn't it be better to make the effort to get to know us better? Rather than pushing back boaters, wouldn't it be better to draw inspiration from them and take advantage of their experience, their unique knowledge of the sea in order to find solutions together?

Plato said: "There are three kinds of men: the living, the dead, and those who go to the sea. »

Let us not kill this last category, without which I remind you, French Polynesia would never have been discovered... Polynesia, the land of welcome...

Pierre Cosso

Pierre Cosso

Pierre Cosso,
Actor, navigator, free thinker