Date: 2009 Funds: EFF Amount of co-financing UE: 1 814 038 € Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur


Themes: The European next door ; Agriculture and Fisheries ; Sustainable development and environment ; Environment ; Sensitive natural areas
Beneficiary: City of Marseille

image France avec Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur en surbrillance

The Prado Bay in Marseille has been progressively silting up for several years. The sand is covering the rocks, destroying the habitat of a number of animal and plant species. "This is where species find shelter, feed, develop and reproduce ", explains Joël Dottori, in charge of marine operations. “This reduces the number of fish and affects fishing".  To maintain the fish population near the coast, the city of Marseille installed artificial reefs in the Autumn of 2007. The operation, named "Prado Reefs", represents the country's largest volume of submerged reefs – 27,300 cubic metres, i.e. the equivalent of all other existing submerged reefs in France.

Biodiversity and economic development are the two core issues of this rehabilitation operation. Artificial reefs provide new habitats for numerous species who are now housed in these compartments and other modules 30 metres under the sea. The quantity (401) and diversity of these habitats are remarkable. They enable the progressive development of a renewed underwater ecosystem (algae, plankton, etc.), conducive to the settling of numerous fish species "of commercial interest", Therefore, in addition to animal diversity, they help perpetuate commercial fishing, an important industry in the Mediterranean.

The idea was to combine innovation (immersion of unique structures) with regulations. As well as selecting the reefs and immersing them near the Posidonia beds and the harbour's soft sea floor, the immersion area was protected. In a 110 hectare sanctuary area, all usage other than area navigation was prohibited. The other area was restricted, with a 4-year ban on fishing, diving and mooring. Every season, the colonisation of reef fish is studied by scientists to control population diversity, abundance and biomass.

The key success factors of the operation included positive environmental conditions, the complexity of the habitats provided by the submerged modules and cooperation from fishermen. "The initial colonisation phase was quickly completed ", explains Sandrine Ruitton, lecturer at the University of Aix-Marseille. The diversity of fish species available for commercial harvest continues to increase. "This is a success for the ecosystem as well as the coastal socio-economic activity",  she points out.

The European Fisheries Fund (EFF) funded 38% of the project.

Additional information

  • Duration:
  • Total cost: 4 740 000 €
  • Key numbers
    • 401 reefs installed over 220 hectares
    • Reefs sitting 30 metres under the sea