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R&D projects

Date: 2010

Partners: BRL Ingénierie, GIS Posidonie


From 2008 to 2010, GIS Posidonie and BRL Ingénierie conducted a research programme on fish populations and environmental quality in Mediterranean yachting harbours (ECONAUT)... The aim was to determine the factors that help maintain biodiversity in ports and those that hinder (type of constructions, complexity of habitat, sources of pollution).

Fish diversity and abundance are linked to the complexity and the heterogeneous nature of the habitat available, to the amount of confinement (circulation and renewal of water) and to the quality of the water (physical and chemical parameters, oxygen, pollution).

A port with several different kinds of constructions (natural or artificial riprap, pontoons on piles or piling, floating pontoons, concrete piers or wharves, etc.) offers several different habitats, hence the establishment, recruitment, growth and/or reproduction of greater numbers of fish species. The species observed use the shelter provided by ports at a certain time of year or stage in their life cycle before returning to the natural environment in most cases.

When addressing issues such as improving port environmental quality and information to port users, ecological engineering is highly beneficial as it maximises shelter functions (the majority of the larvae and juveniles are dangerously exposed to predators in the natural environment) as well as biodiversity.

- It preserves larvae and juveniles and improves coastal productivity.
- It is an asset for communication and for the image of a port in the users' eyes.

Concept :

The proposed concept consists of modular artificial habitat specially made for new or existing floating and fixed pontoons. It is evolutionary and can be adjusted and upgraded to suit the ecological features of any aquatic environment. It is an innovation that is of interest for coastal ports but also for inland waters (lakes, ponds, rivers and canals).

Principle advantages for ports :

- A sustainable solution, compatible with new and existing pontoons,
- Modular for optimised functions,- Conversion of port facilities into fish nurseries,
-  Optimal cost-benefit ratio for a simple, ecological solution,
- No obstruction for boats and no disruption of harbour water circulation,
- The ultimate in port equipment after a "Clean Port" approach,
- Gives users a good reason to improve environmental practices and boosts port image,
- Suitable even in very small harbours as it takes very little equipment.