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Home Actualités Posts Categorized as “News in English”

To allow our English speaking friends to follow our news.

The famous “peing and poop in the lagoon” and the water quality in FP

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The so-called pollution of the boaters
with their famous "pipi-caca in the lagoon"
and the map of bathing water quality in French Polynesia

 

Boating in French Polynesia is no exception to the rule: when it comes to stigmatization, it takes 10 seconds to come up with a nonsense, and more than 20 minutes to explain why it is a nonsense.

How can we not look at this map of the quality of bathing water in French Polynesia (islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora-Bora, Raiatea and Tubuai) without making a parallel with the yachting activity?
The number 1 reproach made to the yachting in Polynesia is the famous "pipi-caca" which pollutes the lagoons! And this pseudo argument comes up in every debate on yachting, even in the highest decision making spheres. However, it is largely, if not almost, unfounded. Here is why.

Let's avoid immediately the question of "peeing" in the lagoon ... as if only sailboat inhabitants relieved themselves in the lagoons. What about swimmers? And surfers? And the walkers? And the divers ? And the fishermen?
Human urine is said to contain more than 95% water and its sodium and chloride content does not threaten the sea or the plants and animals that live there.
Urea, a component of urine, is not found in the ocean. It is a carbon-based compound that helps the body get rid of nitrogen. The nitrogen in urea, combined with the water in the oceans and seas, allows for the development of ammonium, a compound that serves as food for plants. In fact, one can almost say that peeing in water is good for marine flora and animals.
Moreover, all marine animals also urinate in the ocean. For example, the fin whale produces about 945 liters every day!

 

About the "poop". Here is its composition in simple terms:

- 75 to 85% water
- 18-22% dehydrated (dry) matter, undigested such as cellulose
- saprophytic germs (which derive useful substances from the decomposition of the material)
- pathogenic bacteria and viruses (which can cause disease)
- dead constituents (cells) of the digestive tract.

So yes, there is that famous "pathogenic bacteria and viruses" part. But again, in chemistry, there is an essential rule that says "What makes the poison is the dose". And this is true for any pollutant. It's all a question of concentration, dilution and dosage. Ciguatera is a very good example.
But in this case, the dilution is enormous.
Moreover, there is a risk from the moment that the supposedly contaminated water is ingested. The probability for an inhabitant to take a good glass of water from the lagoon to drink it remains extremely low! On the contrary, the boater drinks this "contaminated" water, thanks to his watermaker. If it were really polluted by us, would we drink it?

Obviously, the ancestral image of "poop" is prevalent. But we must go beyond it and try to see it from a purely chemical point of view, otherwise the arguments put forward do not go very far, except to stigmatize, but there we come close to stupidity, not to the truth.
Per square kilometer of ocean, fish poop must be counted in tons per day. But of course, as it seems not to be allowed to be clear-sighted and to use common sense, it is the 150 gr of daily poop of the yachtsman that becomes the cause of all the ecological woes of French Polynesia.

The human excrements of one person in one year would contain about 548g of nitrates, 183g of phosphorus and 460g of potassium per person. Most sailboats move throughout the year, so there is no concentration of these elements in one place. And even if the sailboats stay at anchor in the same place, the quality map of the bathing water along the anchorages of Taina marina (Tahiti) and Mareto beach (Moorea) proves that the presence of these sailboats does not bring the expected pollution that some people want to put on the backs of the boaters!
Moreover, "In the case of Tahiti, the EGS concludes that 57% of the water points analyzed are clean for bathing. This means that 43% of the places studied are contaminated by fecal bacteria. Bathing there is therefore a health risk." According to the map, all of the zones incriminated, therefore unfit for bathing, do not have any sailboats in their vicinity. Where does this fecal pollution come from, sufficiently consequent to exceed the authorized doses? From the mouths for the majority, therefore from the interior of the lands and the valleys. Wouldn't it be a mistake to target them?
These are facts. Let our detractors bring proof of the contrary.

The discourse of the Polynesian authorities is oriented towards a so-called "luxury" yachting because sailboats, boats and other liners will be able to pay all the environmental taxes that will be put in place by Polynesia to give themselves a clear conscience: the rich have the money to pay and grant themselves the right to pollute! The environment remains a business.
These types of maritime transport use the worst fuels available. They release sulfur oxide into the air and water. Not to mention that the motorized maritime sector uses a fuel that is much higher in sulfur than those allowed for the automotive sector.
A study published in February 2018 assessed the health consequences of marine pollution. Indeed, large port cities (take Papeete for example) do not only amass tourists, but also fine particles. Maritime transport contributes to 5 to 10% of the air pollution measured in the downtown area of port cities (cruise ships, container ships, ...). Marine fuels will be responsible for more and more premature deaths each year in these cities (250,000 premature deaths on average worldwide while 60,000 were announced a few years ago).

 

French Polynesia wants to be avant-garde in terms of environment with reflections to try to find solutions for a "green tourism". Obviously, it wishes to privilege luxury tourism (hotels, cruises and yachts) whose carbon footprint is deplorable: about 4 T of CO2 estimated for a normal tourist travelling by plane in Europe, let's imagine the quantity for a tourist coming to French Polynesia considering the means of transport used and the distance, the environmental cost for the construction of the infrastructures welcoming him, ...
And as a result, this same Polynesia is really doing a campaign of slow destruction of the only tourists with almost neutral carbon footprint who pass by (the yachting would bring in 4,77 billion Fxpf per year). All this is done with ecological arguments which are far from the real environmental priorities of French Polynesia at the moment.
Wouldn't it be again a mistake to target?

Let's stop this masquerade with this pseudo "super-ecological" argument of the pee-poo of the boaters in the lagoons. Of course it is a pollution but on the scale of the quantities generated, the dissolution and the concentrations, it represents nothing, or ridiculously little, in the Polynesian lagoons.
But this is not a reason. Certainly.
Let's remember that more than half of the sailboats present in Polynesian waters have black and/or grey water tanks (plus all sailboats built after 2008). For years, the A.V.P. has been asking for the installation of infrastructures in ports and marinas to empty these tanks. Obviously, the competent authorities here in Polynesia are willing to copy the tariffs for anchorages in the Mediterranean but do not seem ready to copy the implementation of a recovery service for black water tanks. There are projects, but no acts on the horizon.
In the meantime, yachting is stigmatized. It is always easier to criticize and destroy than to try to propose, create and act.

 

A boater who is fiu with it

 

BONUS :

- A single cigarette butt can indeed contaminate up to 500 liters of water due to the thousands of harmful substances (nicotine, phenols, heavy metals, ...), and sometimes carcinogenic, that cigarettes contain. A cigarette butt can take up to 15 years to completely degrade.

- One liter of gasoline can contaminate a million liters of water

Rules for Traffic in the district of the Papeete Port Autonome

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Recommendations of the Port Authority for runway crossings at Faaa airport in the PAPEETE Autonomous Port district (applicable to all vessels with an air draught greater than 6 meters)

 

The rules listed below must be scrupulously respected in order to allow maritime traffic to be in line with air traffic.
The Port Watch will be the link with the Faaa airport control tower for runway crossings ("22" for the EAST side, and "04" for the WEST side)

The Port Autonome de Papeete's watchtower can be reached 24 hours a day by :
- VHF 12 or on SSB 2638 KHz
- By telephone (+689) 40.47.48.50 - Emergency line (+689) 40.42.12.12.

> By VHF or SSB, it must be contacted in this form: "VIGIE VIGIE of " Name of your Vessel" (3 times).
Or for English speakers: "PAPEETE PORT CONTROL" (3 times) from "Name of your vessel" (3 times)".

IMPORTANT: All boaters must make sure before any movement in the lagoon of Papeete to have a working VHF on board, or a GSM phone to be able to contact the Port Control.
The Port Authority is the only one authorized to give you the authorization to enter the harbor, as well as the authorization to cross the PAPEETE airport runway.
The VHF 12 watch is mandatory during the whole period of its movement in the Port district.

 

Procedure for entering/leaving the port of PAPEETE :

The Vigil must be called at least 10 minutes BEFORE entering PAPEETE harbor (Papeete channel is open 24 hours a day)
- You must identify yourself and announce your intentions of movement in the port (your final destination).
- It is necessary to inform the Port Watch before any departure from the marina of Papeete on its intentions of movements.

 

Procedure for crossing the 2 runway axes:

There are 2 restricted areas on each side of the runway axis at Faaa International Airport. These zones are marked on most marine charts: NAVIONICS, SHOM, CM93,..., which allows you to visualize your position in relation to the entrance of these zones.

The crossing of the runway axes is only authorized during the day (from sunrise to sunset).
The authorization can be refused even if the light seems sufficient for the crossing of your first runway axis, because the lookout can estimate that the light will not be sufficient for the crossing of the second runway axis.

Also be careful to respect the delimitation of these 2 passage areas by positioning yourself on the waiting areas for contact with the harbour watch (marked in yellow on the maps below), and never cross the areas marked in red without express authorization from the watchtower.)

1 - Position yourself and identify yourself on channel 12 with the harbour watch.
2 - Ask for authorization to pass through the zone, specifying your destination (direction of navigation),
3 - The harbour watch then contacts the control tower to obtain authorization to cross the runway axis
4 - Once the authorization is given by the watchtower, you have 5 minutes to cross the runway.
5 - Stay on watch on VHF 12 until the end of the procedure.

WEST ZONE CROSSING - 04 - (Taina marina side)

EAST ZONE CRASHING - 22 - (Papeete side)

These sailboats which cut the axis of the airport without authorization

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Following the publication of a post on a social network page (in fr) and its resumption in an article of radio1.pf (in fr) concerning the passage of sailboats in the axis of the airport runway without authorization.

Just in the title of the article, we already feel the stigma. "These sailboats which cut the axis of the airport without authorization" ... WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION.

Yes, there are surely sailboats that do it without authorization. It is a fact. But from there to make a generalization, there is only one step ... once again quickly crossed. The title leaves little doubt: ALL sailboats would do it without asking anyone.

And what about common sense?
Obviously still a long way from the necessary reflection.

Precisely, the A.V.P. was about to publish a reflection on the stigmatization of a community. The opportunity making the thief, the article was put on line of the blow (in eng). This example of the article of Radio1.pf and especially of the page of a social network from which it comes for a great majority illustrates wonderfully the reflection that we propose around the stigmatization of a community, in the broad sense.

Indeed, in no case the A.V.P. seeks to endorse or excuse this kind of behavior: passing the airport axis without having asked for permission. Obviously, there are some who do it ... but there again, is it necessary to generalize? Unless you want to discredit a community.

Moreover, in the comments following the post, someone rightly remarks that the picture was taken from a drone or helicopter ... right in the axis of the runway! Answer: Oh yes, but he has an authorization of course !
If we do not border on bad faith then it must be.

Doesn't anyone do certain rides on trail track without the authorizations?
Everybody is allowed to drive more than 90km/h on the RDO?
Nobody fishes at night in the PGEM areas of Moorea?

Yes, some citizens do not respect the rules. Should we stigmatize the whole community they come from?
Please make a distinction.
It's easy to always talk about planes, trains or buses arriving late... for how many arrive on time?

 

In this specific example of the crossing of the airport axis, the A.V.P. had set up a procedure (September 2019) (in eng), which would be the only one proposed at the moment. It would have been validated by the Port's watchtower ... orally.
The A.V.P. puts things in place and spreads them. Like everyone else, the A.V.P. does not stand behind each sailboat to verify the proper implementation of the established rules. It's up to everyone to respect the rules ... and to use common sense.

Stigmatization of a community. What’s the point ?

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The situation of the yachting in Polynesia is not necessarily good. Nothing new on that.

Far from focusing on its own navel and whining about its fate, the A.V.P. is reflecting on a subject unfortunately too present in our society. This subject is not specific to yachting, nor specific to French Polynesia; however, the stigmatization of a community seems to be quite prevalent here.

"Stigmatization is a process that, in the long run, marks the individual or group with opprobrium: the stigmatized are those who suffer social reprobation because they would have contravened a law or a social norm; they are seen as deviant." [1]

The words are there ... clear, strong, explicit. The words "suffer", "social reprobation", "contravened a law or a social norm", "deviant".

Stigmatization would be like a negative label that one sticks on a person or a community. It includes discrimination, prejudice, judgment and stereotypes, which allow people to be isolated on the basis of mere presumptions.

The industry in French Polynesia is a blatant example of this. You only have to see what can be said on social networks in particular, but also in a general way in people's comments.

Indeed, even without being especially "anti-sailors" or against boating, many people make generic assumptions about boaters, following what they would have heard or read, peddled by some unscrupulous media and the 15% of the population that are truly anti-boating[2]. They are "polluters", "profiteers", who "don't spend their money", who "illegally occupy the public domain", who "leave their sailboat to rot in the lagoons", ...

In fact, quite simply, people don't know! This way of life is not known, or even recognized as meeting the expectations of a "normally" constituted society. Therefore, boaters can only be "deviant". A similarity with the "Gitans" in metropolitan France is obviously conceivable.

How easy it is to stand behind your vini or computer screen and label people without knowing anything, or little, about their way of life. Hidden behind these screens, it is easy to feel strong and within one's rights to spit on any community. And above all, there is no need to think about why or how; it is enough to follow the hate movement influenced by a few self-proclaimed leaders of the good word and the certified opinion.

This is not unique to yachting. Just look at the flood of filth poured out there too on the adoption of fa'amu children in 2021. Two couples have indeed tried to abuse the situation; they should have been sanctioned and were. Two couples for how many serious, caring, respectful families whose adoptions in the fa'amu concept are going very well ?

 

 

Let's stop these sweeping generalizations!

So yes, there are clearly boaters who do not do good publicity for their community, for sailboats in Polynesia in general. Yes, there are "black sheep" in the yachting world. The A.V.P. regrets it and does not support them, of course.

But should we always generalize when a sailboat leaves a marina without paying? Should we still generalize when a yachtsman throws his organic waste overboard? Should we still generalize when a yachtsman disrespects local residents? Still generalize when a sailboat anchors in an unauthorized area ? Still generalizing when we see a sailboat wrecked?

From there to "stigmatize" the whole community of boaters for cases, certainly existing and that must be reprimanded, but isolated? Yes, there are shameful behaviors, but they only concern a minority of boaters.

"There are black sheep in the police, colleagues who must be punished. But we can't lump 150,000 civil servants together" [3].

We are fed up with all these stigmatizations in a hurry, taking only the example of a few black sheep, of a few undesirable people in a group because of their behavior, to describe and label an entire community, an administration, a company, ...

We must stop with the generalization and see further than the end of our nose.

Before throwing out this kind of assertions that are not necessarily verified, we must also take stock of what we think ourselves. Because around us, there are inevitably "black sheep" who harm our profession, our sport activity, our community whatever it is ... Are we going to define a profession, an administration, a community according to the four assholes we have met?

Here is an illustration to show what should happen to those who use and abuse stigmatization.

Following the verdict in the Zemmour case (February 18, 2011), the polemicist at the time was convicted of provocation to racial hatred and found himself paying a fine following eminently offensive remarks about blacks and Arabs. Chems-Eddine Hafiz, a lawyer and vice-president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith at the time, now rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, reacted :

"The Paris court recalled an essential principle of law : the stigmatization of a community cannot be considered as an opinion, but as a crime and an attack on republican principles." [4]

 

 

And therein lies the problem.

Today, to form an opinion is to wait for the murmur, the rumor, to see how it evolves and to go in its direction. With social networks, you have to decide in a second what you think about everything ... and especially about nothing. The easiest way is to follow rather than to think. We do not express our preference but the idea we have of the preference of others. The group effect is, once again, rarely of the best brilliance, but so essential to have the impression of having an opinion and to melt into the mass, in two word : to exist.

The yachting in French Polynesia is currently stigmatized, certainly, as others are. It has a duty to set an example, to detach itself from its "black sheep" who do not respect their community and others, to make efforts to show its good faith, to explain itself to those who do not hold it in their hearts... but please, it is also up to each one of us to help it, to try to understand it, to accept that its "black sheep" do not represent the whole community...

By the way, speaking of hearts, some would do well to turn their hatred seven times inside before opening it [5], ... their mouths and/or their hearts.

 

 

 

[1] https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stigmatisation

[2] Study of the awareness of the Polynesian population to boating and boaters (https://voiliers.asso.pf/2021/10/13/plaisanciers-les-mal-aimes-du-tourisme/)

[3] Nicolas Chapuis and Juliette Bénézit, Les policiers " en colère " après que l'exécutif a durci le ton contre le racisme et les violences, Le Monde. Online June 10, 2020 - https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/brebis_galeuse

[4] https://www.saphirnews.com/Affaire-Zemmour-La-stigmatisation-d-une-communaute-ne-saurait-etre-une-opinion-c-est-un-delit_a12251.html

[5] Cédric Sapin-Defour

Support and Prevention Group following sexual assaults by captains

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A very unfortunate subject that has been brought to our attention recently.
The A.V.P. would like to get involved with the Support and Prevention Group following sexual assaults by captains on female crewmembers in "boat hops".

Following several assaults, some of which occurred in FP, several girls/women started to talk about this serious problem on the facebook groups/websites where they had been linked to the captains in question, in order to alert other female crew members in search of the existence of the phenomenon.

 

Due to a very violent reaction on one of the facebook groups in question (the posts in question were vilified, the women virtually lynched and the posts deleted by the moderators), there was no choice but to create a group specifically dedicated to this subject.

 

Since then, about twenty testimonies of different severity (ranging from sexual assault with threats of murder to daily harassment in the middle of a crossing, including landings on isolated islands for girls who "resisted") have been collected, and increased support is offered to victims.

 

Some have filed complaints, others are not ready. It is important to know that the shame and trauma are so great that most of the time the victims do not talk about it and wish to forget. Official statistics show that only 10% of victims file a complaint. This gives an idea. Since then, the group is growing, as prevention tools and tips are proposed, so that girls/women are better prepared to face these realities.

 

This Support Group also wishes to draw our attention to the fact that it has several testimonies of aggression and harassment (in both cases) on two captains based in PF.

For your information, here is an article with testimonies that are clearly chilling :

Bait and Catch: For Dozens of Young Women Recruited Online, Dreams of Sailing Adventures Turned to Nightmares at Sea.

 

UPDATE – Last derogatory provisions for sailboats in transit

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UPDATE (DECEMBER 28, 2021)

ONE WEEK AFTER SENDING THE MAIL (see below) TO THE GOVERNMENT AND CUSTOMS, THEY ARE NOW AUTHORIZING EXTENSIONS UNTIL MARCH 31, 2022 !
Several boaters have received their derogation in this sense.

It would not be unimportant to think that our mail has something to do with it.


 

Article from December 9, 2021

 

Some international yachtsmen have alerted us about the feedback they have received from the Regional Customs Directorate of French Polynesia - Business Advisory Unit concerning the extension of the stay period for yachts in transit.

Here is the type of response they got:

"Hello,

As of 01/01/2022, there will no longer be any derogatory provision (decree 48 CM of 21/01/2021) concerning the extension of the period of stay for temporary admission of pleasure boats for private use registered outside of French Polynesia.
The provisions of Order 401 CM of 27/03/2013, as amended, will therefore be applicable.
This decree provides for the possibility of an exceptional extension of the stay period of 3 consecutive months maximum in case of force majeure (notably illness, major damage requiring the immobilization of the vessel) upon written request and express authorization from the Regional Director of Customs.
Also, I invite you to send us any document that can justify the case of force majeure."

The AVP has therefore made proposals to Mr. Vice-President Jean-Christophe BOUISSOU to try to solve this problem and has also proposed to finally meet him.

 

To the attention of Mr. Vice President Jean-Christophe BOUISSOU,

We would like to draw your attention to a recent decision of the customs authorities, concerning the end of the temporary exemption for vessels in transit in Polynesia, which will not be without consequences.
Indeed, it has been brought to our attention by international yachtsmen in transit that Customs will no longer grant them a delay on their temporary importation as of December 31, 2021.

At this date, they will be invited to :
1 - Either to leave Polynesia to go to the West Pacific in the middle of the hurricane season with the risk of safety and danger to human life that this implies, knowing on the other hand that insurance does not cover this risk and that they will do it at their own risk.
The consequences on the image of Polynesia forcing international yachtsmen (assimilated as tourists) to take this risk would be disastrous.
2 - Either import their vessel permanently and pay a tax of 7% of the value of their vessel.
Many of them, in order not to engage in a navigation that would potentially put their lives in danger, consider, under duress, paying this tax and importing their vessel permanently.
The consequences are clear: sedentarization of vessels which were only passing through Polynesia. Indeed, it is very likely that those who will choose security and invest 7% of the value of their vessel in a definitive importation, will be inclined to stay in Polynesia without limitation, to "amortize" this tax.
In conclusion, Polynesia would have an even larger resident yacht fleet, with all the consequences of saturation of the infrastructures which are already present today.
Knowing on the other hand that New Zealand and New Caledonia plan to reopen their borders in March/April, which would allow all these ships to continue their routes at the end of the cyclone season.
It would therefore be more coherent to extend their temporary importation until April so that they can leave Polynesia as planned from April.
Customs has granted waivers until now to all vessels that were "blocked" by the COVID situation.
It would be totally counterproductive to stop these waivers now, at the exact moment when the situation is clearing up and vessels will finally be able to continue their routes.
We hope to have been able to enlighten you a little more on the real situation in order to anticipate the risks and adapt your decisions accordingly,
We would be in any case and as we have proposed to you on many occasions, willing to meet you to bring you our expertise, or to bring you information.
Yours sincerely,

the A.V.P.

 

New regulations for mooring in Huahine

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[The end of the year is still like the past one! Another nice Christmas present, in the unfortunate line of the announced PGEM of Moorea]

Article Radio1.pf de Lucie Rabreaud - 22/12/2021

 

A decree of the Council of Ministers regulates the circulation and anchoring of ships in the Huahine lagoon. This text is based on the same principle as the regulation of Moorea, which is strongly contested.

After Moorea, it's Huahine's turn to restrict anchorages for boats. Anchoring and parking of vessels in the Huahine lagoon, whether they are engaged in recreational activities or tourist transport, will be regulated, the Council of Ministers announced. Medium and large vessels will have to moor in specific areas, which will be equipped with ecological moorings. Large ships (over 90 m) and cruise ships will have dedicated berths, positioned in specific areas, particularly in the Bourayne and Maroe bays, where the quality of the seabed will allow them to anchor in complete safety for the environment. The vessels will not be able to stay more than 72 hours on the same site. The communiqué of the Council of Ministers does not give any indication on the number of vessels that will be allowed to stay, nor on the organization of the occupation of these anchorages. Smaller vessels, less than 6 meters in length, will be able to continue to park in other areas of the lagoon except in the passes and channels. They will be invited to park in suitable places, away from the reefs and coral reefs. The duration of their mooring will be limited to 24 hours.

“General Orientations” concerning the Moorea’s PGEM

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Each one bringing his stone to the building, a member took the initiative to ask directly to the DRM what was the situation of the moorings currently on Moorea. His message was transferred to the Commune of Moorea, in particular to the persons in charge of the Maritime Pole and thus of the PGEM.

Here is what it comes out.
Concerning the mooring on Moorea, the general orientations are :

"Article 11. - Anchoring

Anchoring is defined as :

The action of immobilizing a vessel at sea by means of an anchor, using the apparatuses[i] of anchoring (chains, humps, windlass or capstan...) ;
Permanent mooring consisting of a float (buoy or trunk), held in a fixed position by a mooring body placed on the bottom, in a sheltered place;

Except in cases of force majeure or when the boat is used for fishing purposes, anchoring from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. is forbidden in the entire lagoon outside of the zones dedicated to anchoring as provided for in articles 50 and 51.

The anchoring of any boat is only authorized on sandy bottoms. The anchor and the chain must not touch coral, even if it is isolated.
Anchoring is prohibited in the marked navigation channels, except in cases of force majeure.

III. Vessels with toilets must be equipped with a wastewater recovery system and biodegradable detergents.

No waste, even biodegradable, must be thrown into the water. Wastewater must be discharged in accordance with the regulations in force. Onshore services are provided to ensure the management of waste and wastewater (???).

The vessel must be seaworthy with the ability to maneuver and be properly guarded and monitored."

 

To date, the organized anchorage areas seem to have been defined and placed on maps (those of the quotas?) and the functioning of each of them must be specified (duration of anchorage, type of anchorage, fees?) with the assistance of the Polynesian Directorate of Maritime Affairs (DPAM) in order to transfer this ministerial decree into "loi Pays" (= official conutry's law).

So for the moment, there are no authorized anchorage areas managed by the Municipality in Moorea.
A last precision, and not the least, would stipulate that in any case, the text which remains applicable for the moment concerning the parking is defined by the decree n°1211 AU of 24/08/1983.
Yes, you read it right ... 1983 !

So here it is: Order n° 1211 AU of 24_08_1983

We already find this denomination against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Citizen "The parking of floating homes is prohibited on the territorial public maritime domain outside of authorized areas". So be it.

But what about this famous 48-hour limitation? It is not mentioned here in any case.
Where does it come from ?
It appears in the decree n°410 CM of 21/10/2004. But apart from a so-called "tacit" implementation that was instituted between the Municipality and the boaters, no information on the return of fines for the offenders has been found. This is why the approach of the new PGEM, certainly released by the Order No. 2009 CM of 10/09/2021, seems to want to go further by simply passing the PGEM in "Country law", in order to be able to certainly foresee a Nautical Brigade being able to verbalize.

If this remains as it is and if it is applied, good luck to this "Brigade" to manage the logistics of the anchorages, but above all it will be necessary to define the responsibilities in case of danger if the "Brigade" forces a sailboat to leave an anchorage when the weather is not good, or when it is going to be dark, or when there is an engine problem, or...

Boaters : The unloved ones of tourism in French Polynesia

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SORRY IF THE TRANSLATION IS NOT ALWAYS GOOD, THE SUBJECT AND THE TEXT ARE COMPLEX.

 

Following the publication of an article in La Dépêche de Tahiti of October 4, 2021 and thanks to the kind authorization and transmission of the results of the study by Pierre Ghewy, we publish their analysis and thoughts on the subject, in agreement and partnership with the authors.

 

This study of the Polynesian population's awareness of yachting and boaters is the result of a collaborative effort with students of the Licence 3 Économie-Gestion of the University of French Polynesia (UPF). It was produced as part of their Market Studies course. To carry out the study, they wrote the problematic, the questionnaire, administered it and finally analyzed the collected data1.
In the years to come, this study could be repeated to establish a barometer and thus follow the evolution of the elements measured.

Boaters are tourists in their own right. They arrive from abroad, stay in French Polynesia and, like all "normal" tourists, those arriving by plane, they consume various products: local crafts, food, clothing, entertainment (leisure, restaurants, hotels, activities, air transport), maintenance of their sailboat, etc. A study by the Association des Voiliers de Polynésie (AVP) recently estimated that their contribution to the country is equivalent to 4.77 billion francs2 per year. However, they are insulted, threatened, assaulted (at least two injured in Huahine in 2021), their equipment is damaged (cut mooring lines3 or lacerated dinghies) 4 and one death5 , admittedly accidental, has already occurred.
The only difference with the traditional tourist, who arrives by plane, is that the yachtsman comes with his house and locates it where he wishes. What is the Polynesian resident's view of this particular tourist and what are the determinants? These are the questions that this work attempts to answer.

A first question asked seeks to determine the overall positioning of respondents with respect to boating 6.

Surprisingly, compared to the news cited above, opinions are rather neutral on the subject7 . This apparent neutrality, however, hides very different and stronger opinions: 15.1% are very much in favor of recreational boating compared to 9.5% who are very much against it.

Another question, "Do you wish they (boaters) would leave the lagoon?", receives a similar response: fairly neutral (mean: 4.24), but also with strong extremes: 12.3% of respondents are absolutely opposed to the idea of boaters leaving the lagoon while 20.5% absolutely want them to leave.

These initial results suggest that a minority of people who are strongly hostile to boating and boaters are leading the rest of the population to protest against sailboats.

"Polluters profiteering too much"

Other questions seek to identify more precisely the image that residents have of boaters in French Polynesia8 . This one is rather negative. They are mainly considered as "too many polluters". Again, the majority of respondents are rather neutral towards this image: 4.81 on a scale of 1 to 7. As with the previous measures, a minority (11%) adheres completely to this image.

The visual pollution of sailboats is often cited in the media and in social networks, yet, surprisingly, the fact of seeing or not seeing sailboats from one's home does not influence the image of the boater. Whether or not they see them all day long, respondents have the same view of sailboats. In fact, two elements influence the image of the boater : the respondent's archipelago of residence and his involvement in the environment.

Negative image of boaters according to location

Concerning the place of residence, in decreasing order, the most negative image is in the Tuamotus (5.82 on a scale of 1 to 7), the Marquesas, Leeward Islands and Moorea are almost equal (between 5.08 and 5.05 on a scale of 7). Tahiti, where the greatest concentration of sailboats is located, is only in fifth place (4.79). Boaters are the least disliked in the Austral Islands (4.04 - neutral position on the scale of 1 to 7). Thus, all the archipelagos, to different degrees, share this negative image of boaters. Does the behavior of boaters vary from one archipelago to another or is it the tolerance threshold of the residents that varies?

Involvement in the environment

Concerning the involvement in the environment, the second element influencing the image that Polynesian residents have of sailboats, the more the respondents feel concerned, the more negative the image they have of sailboats. This finding seems quite logical since pollution by wastewater discharge (dishes and toilets) is also blamed on boaters. This last point leads us to question the ranking of the elements likely to pollute the lagoon asked to the respondents. One question in the study consisted in asking the respondents to classify, according to their polluting power, the elements mentioned. The ranking of these elements, in decreasing order according to the number of times they are cited first, gives the following results :

- yacht wrecks (110 first quotes, 28.2% of respondents)
- Poor sewage treatment in homes (80, 20.5%)
- Island housing (60 first quotes, 15.4% of respondents)
- the infrastructure for pleasure boating (47, 12.1%)
- hotels (40, 10.3%)
- Sailing boats in the lagoon (25, 6.4%)
- agriculture (20, 5.1%)
- professional fishing (6, 1.5%).

 

Sailboats in good condition, those that float, finally rank only 6th in terms of polluting elements, after hotels, houses and poor treatment of wastewater from houses. Through their answers, the respondents indicate that they consider that their houses have a more polluting power than sailing boats.

These results thus indicate that, in the same way that it seems that a minority of respondents are very hostile to boating and boaters, it seems that a minority of boaters, the ones who let their sailboat wither and sink in the lagoon, are perceived as very polluting. This is probably an exaggerated behavior that exacerbates the tensions between the two communities.

Correlation with bathing water quality

This ranking of the elements polluting the lagoon is consistent with the results of the bathing water quality study published annually by the Ministry of Health 9 :

 

According to this map, water quality problems are concentrated at river mouths. As this report states, "Of the 16 points monitored in 2019 none are suitable for bathing compared to 11% in 2018. The quality of bathing water at river mouths remains a major concern whether in urban areas (100% in poor quality in 2018 and 2019) or rural areas (100% in poor quality in 2019 compared to 78% in 2018).
The report points out the deficiency of wastewater treatment. The facilities are often outdated or inadequate.The sailboats are concentrated in front of the marina Taina and the airport ... in blue zone: good quality water.

In spite of this information, the strongest opposition to yachting comes from those who think that sailboats, yachting infrastructures and wrecks of sailboats pollute the lagoon the most. If these people want to protect Polynesian lagoons by chasing away sailboats, they are obviously in the wrong business. But, as social psychologists demonstrate through theories of causal attribution, it can be easier to blame our actions on other people or external events, rather than taking responsibility for them.10

Too many and polluting ?

Among the attributes that have helped define the image of the boater, the strongest criticism leveled at them is that they are too numerous. Without mentioning the 36-month Route, the current upsurge of sailboats in the lagoon comes from the fact that, during the 2020 containment, the government of French Polynesia asked boaters to come to the Tahitian lagoon. This was to avoid the spread of the virus in the islands. As no infrastructure was put in place to welcome them, they were forced to "crowd" where they could...

The second strong attribute of the negative image of boaters among the population is that they are "polluters, responsible for the degradation of the lagoons (broken corals, waste water and motor oil discharges)". Concerning the corals, boaters do not put their anchor in the corals for pleasure. An anchor in the corals will be damaged, even blocked. It will then be necessary to dive to untie it or to lose it with its chain. The best and safest anchorage remains the sand. Concerning waste water. Yachtsmen are often blamed for polluting the lagoon with their organic waste (toilets, food scraps, etc.). Modern sailboats and some older ones are now equipped with black water tanks that allow them to discharge this wastewater outside the lagoon, in the open sea, or in marinas equipped for this recovery. This poses the problem of investment in the reception infrastructure. The respondents who most criticize sailboats for polluting are also the most opposed to investments to improve their reception and reduce these possible discharges11. The majority of boaters have made the investments to reduce this nuisance. This last argument, that of organic pollution, should lose its force when we know that, in normal periods, excluding Covid-19, only 26 sailboats are inhabited year-round at the Taina marina. How many motorboats are concentrated every weekend on the sandbar of the Tepuahono reef, near the Ta'apuna channel, to go on a binge... and without any toilets!

So, are boaters the unloved ones of tourism?
The above results show that all the criticisms made of them are not always justified or shared by the population as a whole. However, these criticisms are attributed to them and degrade their image. In two separate surveys, carried out by the same Bachelor 3 students, similar questions to describe the behavior of respondents towards tourists on the one hand and boaters on the other hand, describe different behaviors. The behavioral score for tourists was 6.12, compared to 5.42 for boaters. Again, the scale is 7 points. In both cases, the behavior is benevolent but the tourist is still rated higher than the boater.

Other questions were asked to evaluate the attitude not towards the person, tourist or boater, but towards the activity, tourism or boating. In this case, the opinions are clearer: +1.12 for tourism versus -1.30 for pleasure boating. These two measures are on a scale of -6 to +6.

 

The broader issue of tourism

One possible explanation for these differences may be that these two activities do not have the same visibility. Tourists, even if they are numerous, often stay in the hotels where they stay. These hotels are equipped for this purpose. They have enough to lodge them, of course, but also to feed and entertain them. Few tourists leave these structures. We sometimes see some of them in the back of the pick-up trucks that take them to visit Papenoo or other remarkable places of the country, but this remains marginal. As for the sailboats, they are in the lagoon, visible to everyone. They are a bit like those Airbnb tourists, more visible than hotel tourists. After spending the night in their accommodation, Airbnb tourists come out to meet the population. A study published in 2020 showed that the two indicators mentioned above, behavior towards tourists and attitude towards tourism, both tended to decline before the Covid-19 crisis. We were at about 240,000 tourists per year.

The bottom line

Another important numerical fact shows that the results of the explanatory analyses are particularly interesting since they indicate the real reasons for the rejection of boaters: the respondents reject the other (the boater) because he is not (culturally) like them and, economically, does not bring them anything. The environmental factor, often put forward to justify a negative attitude towards boating and boaters, is indeed noted as an element justifying this behavior, but it is weaker than culture and economy. The environment would therefore only be a pretext to hide other motivations.

Concerning the last position of the respondent ("the lagoon belongs to everyone"), the analysis of the detail of the answers is interesting with regard to the current events around the PGEM of Moorea.

In decreasing order of lagoon sharing, the ranking is as follows: Tuamotu (average: 2.71); Austral Islands (my: 1.19); Leeward Islands (my: 1.14); Tahiti (my: 0.53) and Moorea (my: 0.35). The Marquesas Islands having no lagoon are not taken into account in this ranking.
The inhabitants of Moorea have the strongest feeling of belonging to their lagoon. They are, in all Polynesia, the ones who consider that the lagoon belongs above all to the inhabitants of the island and not to everybody. They do not want to share. Add to that Mr. Le Maire who feels obliged to follow what the population wants (article in the Dépêche of 11/10/2021), but he is, in fact, only following the wishes of a minority of people (on average around 15 - 20%) "extremists" with strong ideas about yachting ... and you get the PGEM 2021 in the process of being formalized.

In any case, it appears from this work that the respondents, residents of French Polynesia, distinguish the activity from the person. They reject the boating activity but, except for the exceptional cases mentioned in the introduction, not the boater. Not yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1  390 résidents ont été interrogées en vis-à-vis, principalement à Tahiti, Moorea, Îles-sous-le vent et Australes. La distribution hommes/femmes, dans l’échantillon, est représentative de la population.

2  Pinel-Peschardière E. (2020), « Etude d’impact de la plaisance sur l’économie de la Polynésie française ».

3  Teriiteporouarai T. et Vesco J. (2021), « Raiatea : la plainte pour dégâts sur un voilier échoue au tribunal », Polynésie la 1ère, 21 février. https://la1ere.francetvinfo.fr/polynesie/raiatea/raiatea-la-plainte-pour-degats-sur-un-voilier-echoue-au-tribunal-941071.html

4  Rofes J. (2021), « Huahine – Les agressions sur les voiliers s’accentuent », La Dépêche de Tahiti, 22 avril. https://actu.fr/polynesie-francaise/huahine_98724/huahine-les-agressions-sur-les-voiliers-s-accentuent_41280619.html

5  Réné C. (2020), « Moorea : mort d’un jeune baigneur percuté par une embarcation », Radio 1.pf, 10 août. https://www.radio1.pf/moorea-mort-dun-jeune-baigneur-percute-par-une-embarcation/

6  74,3, en moyenne, sur une échelle de 1 à 7 ; 1 = opposé et 7 = favorable ; 42,1% des répondants se positionnent sur la modalité de réponse neutre, 4.

8  L’image obtenue est le résultat de la factorisation de différentes questions abordant cette image sous des angles différents.

9  Rapport CHSP "Qualité bactériologique des eaux de baignade" • Publié le 25 mai 2020 à 15h31, mis à jour le 26 mai 2020 à 20h13 : https://la1ere.francetvinfo.fr/polynesie/qualite-eaux-baignades-leger-progres-836292.html

10  Heider F. (1958), « The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations », John Wiley & Sons, Inc, Kansas, USA.

11   Corrélation significative (Sig. = 0,000) et négative (corrélation de Pearson = -0,222) entre la question concernant les rejets (« Les voiliers polluent les lagons (rejet d’huile de moteur et des eaux usées : toilettes, vaisselle, déchets alimentaires) ») et la question sur le besoin d’investissement pour mieux accueillir les plaisanciers (« Le gouvernement devrait investir plus pour l’accueil des plaisanciers (corps morts, marinas, zones de carénage, etc) »).

12   Ghewy P. (2020), « Bientôt fiu des touristes ? », Tahiti Infos, 16/02/2020. https://www.tahiti-infos.com/Bientot-fiu-des-touristes_a188903.html

PGEM 2021 : Another strongly negative message to the cruising community in FP

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 During the worst economic crisis faced by the tourism industry in French Polynesia, another island (Mo'orea) is turning her back on this most resilient form of tourism : international cruising.

Lack of boating infrastructure in Polynesia

The answer from the French Polynesian government to this problem is to update the PGEM (Lagoon Management Plan) with the closure of several anchorages and a drastic reduction of capacity   for other anchorages, and implementing a preposterous “quota system" limiting  the total number ofboats across the 10 official anchoring zones in the Moorea lagoon to a ridiculously low 30

Result:  With  more than 5,000 Ha (19 sq.miles) of lagoon area around Moorea, only 10 boats are now allowed to transit, for a maximum of 2 nights.

The other 20 other anchoring spots in Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay are reserved for long term anchoring, and will likely be occupied by Mo'orea residents who cannot get a spot in a marina.

Only 2 to 3 anchoring spots are potentially open to all  sailors travelling from Tahiti, since only the East coast of Moorea is accessible, and only for  stays shorter than 48 hours, assuming these spots are not occupied by the residents of  M oorea’s marina.

 

The restrictions on freedom  continue   to grow.

Over the past several years, everyone agrees that a boating infrastructure capable of properly welcoming, hosting and organizing local and international cruising is seriously lacking in French Polynesia.

The slight increase of new cruisers  in the past few years, but more importantly the  unprecedented COVID pandemic  and the closure of  maritime borders worldwide  forced many cruisers to extend their stay in French Polynesia.

In 2014, the local government decided in favor of developing the cruising industry in French Polynesia, by extending the temporary admission from 24 months to 36 months, with the goal of developing infrastructure to further boost the thriving local  yachting industry.

Six years later, having  failed to create new infrastructure, the government  took a step backwards and reduced their initial ambitions by resetting the temporary admission period  to 24 months, hoping to reduce the flow of international boats.

In 2021, there is  absolutely no new boating infrastructure, and  no projects in the works. In contrast, the government has strengthened the policies meant  to reduce  the number of anchorages.

The new policy is an about face, aimed at reducing the number of boats, and increasing  restrictions by closing anchorages one after the other.

Indeed, a large number of restrictions  have been voted into law and more are set to  be passed  to further restrict the capacity to welcome international yachts and to penalize the local boaters by preventing them from accessing the lagoon.

The list of closures keeps growing  dramatically:

-       Marina Taina Anchorage closed/closing
-       Reduction of the number of boats allowed at anchor in Moorea lagoon to only  30 boats and 10 of those for a maximum duration of 48 hours
-       Closing of the western portion of Fakarava lagoon in the Tuamotus
-       Reduction of capacity in Huahine by creating limited anchoring zones, soon to be voted upon.

 

Anchoring zones : a lagoon of more than 5,000 Ha (19 sq miles) around Moorea, and only 30 boats allowed to anchor   


Anchorages in Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay: 25+ meters depth (80+ feet) and Venturi effect

There is a clear intention  to concentrate all boats in the northern part of the island, in both Opunohu bay and especially Cook’s bay, that don't  really offer any protection, due to significant depths (25m/80ft) and strong winds caused  by the Venturi effect of the tall surrounding mountains.

Anchoring in these areas doesn't offer much   safety to  boaters with less than 80m of chain to anchor safely  in this type of anchoring situation.

Anchorage in Vaiare: quota of 2 boats with a nearby 66 slip marina

Another reason which makes this decision ludicrous is  that it doesn't take into consideration  the 60+ boats in Vaiare marina on the East coast.

The primary usage of most of these boats is to go out to  the nearby anchorages during weekends and holidays.

Creating a quota of 2 boats allowed to anchor at the closest anchorage for the local population   of 60 boats is absurdly  inadequate. . Furthermore, this will  strongly discourage all potential boaters from Tahiti from sailing  to Moorea for weekends or holidays.

Anchorage of Ta'ahiamanu: No sailboats are allowed to anchor there from now on.

The death of a young cruiser in 2020 has probably prompted this decision.
The response is inappropriate. It is against the wishes of the family of the deceased and it does not solve the problem of  mixed usage of this public space.

Anchorage nearby the underwater Tikis (Papetoai) : No anchoring allowed

Preventing access to these two iconic anchorages in Moorea is like removing the Eiffel tower from Paris : their reputation is famous both locally and internationally.

Maatea Anchorage between PK 14 and 15 : 1 boat allowed

What is the justification for allowing only one single boat on a sandy anchoring area of one kilometer (0.5 nm) ?

 The creation of a completely illogical quota system

The AVP (Association des Voiliers en Polynésie/ Polynesian Sailors Association),  which represents a large number of the lagoon users, has not been asked to share their opinion, or even represent cruisers interests,  in spite of their several requests  to meet with the authorities of the municipality of Moorea since 2017. Cruisers, who have the same access rights to the lagoon  as fishermen, local businesses and scientists, have deliberately been ignored to create this new PGEM.

The decision to implement a quota system has been made without considering several practical and technical elements specific to cruising boats, most  particularly their traveling speed.

To better understand the context, it is important to factor in the cruising time between anchorages.

A sailboat moves from one anchorage to another and NEVER stops in the middle of the ocean.Furthermore, the lagoon is the only place where a sailboat can find protection, as the local marina is perpetually full.

 

 Taking into consideration these  logistical questions would have avoided the creation of such an impractical quota system:

1 - When a sailboat leaves Tahiti for Moorea, how can the skipper know if they will find a spot at their desired anchorage ?

2- Since a sailboat takes 3 to 5 hours to reach an anchorage, how can the skipper know if a spot available at departure time will not be occupied upon arrival ?

3 - Who would turn around at the end of the day to possibly find a  spot in a different anchorage? A sailboat needs a minimum of 2 hours to reach a different anchorage, not even knowing if there is availability.

4 - How to know when  sailboats at anchor might leave to allow another sailboat to have a spot?

5 - Who can decide the legitimate status of “force majeure” for a sailboat  anchoring "illegally" in  an anchorage already at  its quota ?

6 - Who will take the responsibility, in such a case, to tell  a disabled sailboat owner (engine or other technical failure) to leave an anchorage, regardless of their ability to sail safely ?

7 - What will a cruiser be told when waiting in an anchorage due to a sudden weather change ?Who has the right to tell a sailor they must leave safe harbour, even if there is bad weather, if they have passed the 48 hour anchoring limit?
8 - Who will define the criteria of safe weather conditions  for   a cruiser to leave their anchorage, and consequently take the responsibility of possibly endangering the crew ?

A brief history of the evolution of the new PGEM  :

-       End of 2017: AVP asked the mayor of Moorea in a letter to discuss the g Moorea PGEM  proposal changes (“Propositions de modifications du nouveau projet PGEM de Mo'orea”) . The letter  remains unanswered.

-       March 2019 : public survey regarding Moorea PGEM 2019 (Enquête publique en cours concernant le PGEM 2019 de Moorea).lready at that time the recommendation was to allow only 13 sailboats on Mo'orea's East coast (Maamaa valley in Teavaro = Sofitel ; Patae = by the marina and Champion store; Maatea). The outcome of the  public survey   to create the final PGEM was  a shock to all boaters, especially Moorea residents) but also s those from Tahiti and the international community, with the “quota by anchorage” concept to limit the number of sailboats.

These quotas are not at all in line  with the practical reality of accessing the Moorea lagoon and definitely not in sync  with the needs of the existing boating population.

-       August 2019 : The AVP received only 14 (inadequate) answers to the 36 concerns addressed by the AVP (rapport du Commissaire enquêteur relatif à l'enquête publique du PGEM de Moorea).

-       February 2021 : first and only meeting between the  AVP and Moorea PGEM committee (rencontre entre l’AVP et les responsables du dossier PGEM de la Commune de Moorea) ;the AVP was told that anchoring in sandy areas all around Moorea would still be allowed for 48 hours.

The concept of the right to seek safe coastal shelter seems to remains acknowledged , but is now in conflict with the zoning and quotas.
Regarding Ta'ahiamanu, the committee confirmed that anchoring would be allowed, but with a quota of 0 boats. How should this information be interpreted ?

-       September 2021 : decree #2009 CM is published (“arrêté n°2009 CM du 10/09/2021”) and leaves a bitter taste, with a reduction from a proposed 83 sailboats ( already a pitifully small number from the initial project presented during the public consultation), to only 30 sailboats, and the closure of 3 anchorages.

What’s next ?

We deeply regret that nautical tourism in Polynesia will further suffer from negative publicity in the international cruising community.

Restrictions like these are increasingly negative actions towards local and international cruisers, who are already despised and stigmatised by some, even though cruising is the face of  sustainable tourism; at a human scale, eco-friendly and resilient, a sector of the tourist market which  contributes significantly  to the local economy (see Cruising tourism impact to the local polynesian economy [french]). We can only  report and express our disappointment with these decisions.

AVP (Association des Voiliers en Polynésie) has been working hard for several years to have constructive dialogue, and to propose reasonable choices which meet the needs and expectations of all cruisers, and for the best possible  management of the lagoon for all.

It is clear that despite all our efforts,  positive collaboration, including consulting the end users, is not the prime objective of the local leaders.

The AVP will continue to use all means at their disposal to stop this escalating situation, and will continue to broadly report the negative actions taken which deeply affect  the cruising community in Polynesia.

 

 

 

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