For them, the game is not worth the candle… Too much air and sea pollution for economic benefits that they consider “unreliable”: a collective created on Friday May 20 calls for a ban on stopovers for cruise ships in the port of Marseille.

While after two years of virtual shutdown, due to a pandemic, the sector is starting again with 1.5 to 1.8 million cruise passengers expected in the Marseille city this year, Stop cruises wants to inform the people of Marseille about the nuisances of these giant ships and put pressure on elected officials. “We worked for several months to quantify the harmful impact of cruises which have visible effects and other more sneaky ones”, justifies Gwenaëlle Menez, spokesperson for this collective which mixes associations and residents of the northern districts of the city. “During the lockdown, no less than 16 boats were docked at the cruise terminal. Many residents have become aware, in particular of the 2,500 early deaths per year for the metropolis due to air pollution, of which boats represent 30%. »

“We installed citizen sensors to analyze the air quality in the neighborhoods near the cruise terminal. We are almost always above WHO standards with incredible peaks, ”says Patrick Borg, a resident of the Estaque district. “We always have itchy throats, itchy eyes… confirms Isabelle Chervet, resident of the Mourepiane district. Air pollution, we see it every day, it is concrete. »

“We are preparing the electrical connection of ships at the quay as early as 2025”

A German ship checked in 2018 while using fuel with a sulfur content greater than 1.5% accepted Tuesday before the Marseille public prosecutor’s office to pay a fine of 60,000 euros. But for the collective, these controls are too few. He also criticizes the shipowners for polluting the Mediterranean by sending there the water that was used to clean the ships’ chimneys so as not to exceed the sulfur discharge rates.

“We are ready to dialogue with everyone, especially since we are working a lot on the issues of pollution and climate change”, pleads Jean-François Suhas, president of the Marseille Cruise Club and of the port development council. . “The work has been delayed with the pandemic, but we are preparing the electrical connection of ships at the quay as early as 2025, there are new regulations on fuels, a blue charter… In 2019, cruises brought in the city and the port 450 million, of which a third in cash in shops. The sector also represents 3,500 jobs in Marseille. »

The activists, however, question the methodology of studies which show that each cruise passenger would generate 50 euros of purchases in town during their short stay “while everything is done for travelers to spend their money on board”.

“The city wants to set up a tool that can accurately measure air pollution in the port,” agrees Laurent Lardhit, deputy in charge of sustainable tourism. “The Holy Grail of 2 million cruise passengers per year no longer makes sense in the face of tourist overcrowding. We have to move towards qualitative development”.