Boosting marine biodiversity in ports and marinas

Published on 16/08/2023
Categories: Commercial Port - Mooring

A project to mitigate the environmental impact of port developments: a more than positive assessment!

Boosting marine biodiversity in ports and marinas
Initiated by the Saint-Martin nature reserve management association, this already one year long project is proving to be a great success!

As part of the France Relance plan financed by the European Union, the Nature Reserve has obtained a grant allocated to a pilot project to revive marine biodiversity. The concept is simple: place ecological habitats under marina and harbor docks, called Biohut© and designed to provide new shelters for fish and other marine organisms. "While in France these cages are filled with oyster shells, here we've replaced them with lambis conch shells," explains Aude Berger, who is in charge of the project at the association. A local material that provides micro-habitats for juvenile fish.

Once the funding had been obtained, the Reserve contacted the island's port authorities to implement the project. "We received a very positive response from the three ports and marinas still in operation since Hurricane Irma, and have installed a total of 40 Biohut©s, including 16 at the Anse Marcel marina, 16 at the Fort-Louis marina and eight at the port of Galisbay", stresses Aude Berger.

After an initial survey to identify the species naturally present in the marinas and harbour, the Nature Reserve's scuba divers carried out four scientific surveys of the ecological habitats during the 12 months of the project. And at the last assessment, the results were more than positive. In fact, thanks to the presence of these new habitats, the number of species present in the port and the three marinas has tripled. As for fish, they are 12 times more numerous today than a year ago. A project which is therefore having a real effect on the recovery of marine biodiversity, and which has every chance of being renewed.


Lisa Barrot, director of Marina Fort Louis

Lisa Barrot

"We welcomed this project with enthusiasm, as it fits in perfectly with our environmental approach. The cages were installed without causing any disturbance to our users, and in no way interfere with boat docking.

The results are more than encouraging, enabling us to play a real role in local marine biodiversity. All the more so as our marina benefits from good water quality and is already home to a large number of fish and several sea turtles. Limiting our impact is a priority, but conquering new species or increasing the number of fish present, as the assessment demonstrated, is an additional asset.

As part of the project supported by the Nature Reserve, we have promoted this pilot project by installing an information panel on the site and applying for a grant to extend it for a further two years. And in this second phase, we'll be developing awareness-raising programs for the general public and also schoolchildren, to show that there are ways of taking action to boost biodiversity.

From the article "Relancer la biodiversité marine dans les ports et marinas"
Written by Mariane Aimar
Publication: OUTRE-MER grandeur Nature n°18
Publication date: sept.-oct. 2023