The Blue Coast
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The Blue Coast stretches from Marseille to Martigues. It houses many creeks that delight swimmers.
But the site is threatened by the industrial zone of Fos and the urbanization of Marseille: the fishermen have more difficulty in filling their nets. Fish such as tuna have disappeared. A reserve is scheduled off Carry. It should allow the survival of some species, including Posidania meadows. Fishermen and divers agree that it is a good initiative and that it should be implemented quickly.
Interview with Michel Pialat, fisherman in Carry and his son guy, Roger Grange, president of the Blue Coast sub aquatic club, and Cristiani, researcher in biology.
France 3 Marseille - Own production
- Grange Roger
- Cristian Georges
Geography and landscapes
- Landscapes and environment / Protection of Natural environments
- Landscapes and environment / Eco-systems and sustainable development
Credits / Cast
- Champenois Rémy - Journalist
- Pialat Michel - Participant
- France - South East - Carry Le Rouet
The Blue Coast
It's the spectacular colour of the water on the northern shore of Marseille which has given it the name la Côte bleue (the Blue Coast), its rugged outline stretching from Cap Méjean to Cap Couronne, from one side of the limestone massif of Le Nerthe to the other. Between the Etang de Berre and Marseille, crossing the communes of Le Rove, Ensuès-la-Redonne, Carry-le-Rouet, Sausset-les-Pins and Martigues, a natural landscape, 25 kilometres of exceptional beauty, criss-crossed with little creeks and rocky outcrops, made accessible by the railway – called la Côte bleue – built just before tthe First World War, it became a resort and place for the people of Marseille to relax.
It was in the 1960's and 70's, a period of heavy industrialisation and urban spread which characterised what the French call the Glorious Thirty Years (1945-75), that people began to be aware of the threat to the environment. This was immediately followed by politicians trying to protect it. In 1960 the law on national parks was passed, followed in 1963 by the creation of the National Park of Port-Cros. Two men, the very popular Jacques Cousteau, whose life work was the Mediterranean, and Dr. Alain Bombard, a biologist and head of the Institut océanographique created in 1966 on the island of Embiez, helped bring the issue of pollution to the attention of the media and so to the public.
Provence as a whole found itself rapidly at the heart of the problem. The Etang de Berre, with its port and industrial complex, was an environmental threat. In the middle of the 1960's people became aware of the immediacy of the danger when red mud, an effluent from the Pechiney aluminium plant at Gardanne, appeared on the coast at Cassis. Although from 1972 there was a depollution plan for the Etang de Berre, which resulted in waste water being treated, the industrial site and intense urbanisation as large numbers of people settled on the shores of the small, enclosed étang, were environmental threats for the Blue Coast. In addition, as from the 1960's the rise in both living standards and leisure time made it possible for the middle classes to get to the Mediterranean coast in the summer for their holidays to enjoy the fishing, bathing and underwater swimming. That helped make people aware of the need to protect this national heritage but it was also a danger in itself because of the sheer numbers of people.
From 1978 a number of studies were made on the La Côte bleue, for example the Service Maritime des Bouches du Rhône mapping and tagging the meadows of seagrass (Posidonia oceanica), Mediterranean plants vital for the underwater eco-system. In 1982 the maritime reserve of Carry-le-Rouet was created, controlling a concession of marine cultures. In 1983 the communes along the La Côte bleue banded together to create the Parc régional marin de la Côte bleue with the support of the Region and the département. Then in 2000 the Parc marin de la Côte bleue was created [in other words without the Region. Tr.] to improve management of the marine resources, protect them, contribute to the economic and social development of activities linked to the sea, provide information for the public and contribute to scientific research programmes. Unlike Les Calanques, which became a national park in 2011, the Blue Coast still has not been given that status.
Since the Second World War, the Blue Coast, like many other parts of the French coast-line, has evolved from a period of heavy exploitation to a period of protection. Nevertheless with the proliferation of algae, the scarcity of fish, the damage done by the pleasure industry and uncontrolled building, the area is still very fragile and threatened, like many parts of the Mediterranean coast, even though theoretically protected by the 1986 Loi Littorale.
Daniel Faget, Marseille et la mer. Hommes et environnement marin (XVIIIe-XXe siècles), Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2011