“The ocean has great potential for stimulating economic growth, employment and innovation. In its projections, the OECD estimates that between 2010 and 2030, based on a trend scenario, the ocean economy could contribute significantly to employment growth and more than double its contribution to global added value ³. The tourism industry, with half of jobs and added value, is a key player in the maritime economy. It also has a responsibility to develop a sustainable approach to its development.
With the second largest maritime territory in the world, i.e 10,8 million km² of exclusive economic zone, France plays a major role for the preservation of marine ecosystems.
The excellence of its oceanographic research is recognised worldwide, it has state-of-the-art technological expertise in shipbuilding, some of its industrial sectors such as freight transport and boating are cutting edge, its flag is recognised for the quality, technical expertise and reliability of its ships and crew, its national navy is present on all seas, its competence in the management of marine protected natural areas is widely recognised throughout the world. It is the custodian of an extraordinary natural heritage (reefs, mangroves, aquatic plant habitats etc.) which supports the identity and cultural traditions of numerous local populations.
While being an asset, this exceptional biodiversity also creates a special responsibility for the preservation of marine and coastal environments.
Indeed, the ocean is one of the keys to solving the many global challenges facing the planet in the coming decades, from food security to climate change, from energy production to natural resource management, and improving medical care. Conversely, it is already subject to the pressures of overexploitation, pollution, loss of its biodiversity, and climate change. 60% of the world’s main marine ecosystems have been degraded or used unsustainably. More than 85% of all fisheries are fully exploited or overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion⁴.
Coastal and maritime tourism have significant impacts on natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems. Therefore, tourism has a huge potential to make a major contribution to the 2030 sustainable development agenda and be a driver for green growth. “Blue tourism can support local communities and surrounding territories through the use of local resources, supply chains, and CSR activities, and it is a profitable investment for the future of the industry”⁵.”⁶
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“The need for a strategic framework for marine and maritime issues has become increasingly important since the post-war period. The long-standing United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea signed in 1982, sets out the first UN framework for areas of sovereignty, use and preservation of resources.
At the European level, the integrated maritime policy⁷ defined in 2009 focuses on maritime contribution to European growth and employment, without jeopardising the vital viability of marine ecosystems.
The movement towards a French national maritime ambition was launched in 2009, and was more recently promoted through French commitments to the Ocean at the COP21.”
The national strategy for the sea and coast establishes four complementary and inseparable longterm objectives:
1. The ecological transition for the sea and coastline
2. The development of a sustainable blue economy
3. The good environmental status of the marine environment and the preservation of an attractive coastline
4. The promotion of a French vision in maritime issues
LE HAVRE, “THE PHOENIX CITY”
Le Havre, a Norman town founded in 1517 by King Francis I, confirmed its maritime vocation in 1643 when the Compagnie de l'Orient opened stores to develop trade with the Americas (cotton, coffee, sugar, tobacco, etc.).
Almost entirely destroyed by World War II bombing, the port was rebuilt immediately after the war as the government was eager to rebuild one of its most important ports and make Le Havre a shining star of post-war reconstruction.
Over the years, the City of Le Havre has forged strong ties with sailors, developed infrastructures around the old docks of the commercial port and continually strives to be a leading maritime city. The city hosted the sailing events for the 1900 and 1924 Summer Olympics. In 2005, the city centre was recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Today No.1 port for cruising on the Atlantic seaboard, Le Havre is the 2nd leading French port for foreign trade, after Marseille, and the 5th northern European port with more than 87 million tons of goods in 2016.
Le Havre is also a seaside resort. The largest town in Normandy, Le Havre is the only deep water marina that is accessible 24 hours a day regardless of the tides, with an exceptional sailing area, excellent thermal winds, four-star sailing centre and area for practicing all manner of water sports renders it France’s leading marina on the Atlantic Channel coastline.
Its geographic position has meant that it has become over the course of the years one of France’s top five destinations for water sports.
It is also renowned as the starting point of a very famous boat race, the Transat Jacques Vabre, which follows the historic coffee trading route between France and Brazil.