Italy has decided to introduce a ban for large cruise ships docking in the Venetian Lagoon.

The move comes in an effort for Italy to protect the city’s lagoon ecosystem and cultural heritage after years of hesitation.

“In order to protect the environmental, artistic and cultural heritage of Venice, declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, large ships are prohibited from passing through the San Marco Basin, the San Marco Canal and the Giudecca Canal from 1 August,” the country’s Presidency of the Council of Ministers said in a statement.

The ban in the aforementioned protected areas of the Venetian Lagoon will concern vessels with a gross tonnage of more than 25,000t, a hull length at waterline exceeding 180 meters, air draft of over 35 meters, excluding units with hybrid propulsion. What is more, the ban relates to ships that during maneuvring use a fuel which produces polluting emissions ((with sulfur content equal to or greater than 0.1%).

The specific rule on Venice has been included in the decree approved on 13 July by the Council of Ministers which contains general provisions to ensure the integrity and decorum of all waterways declared a national monument. 

The same decree includes compensation for shipping companies, terminal managers and service providers more directly affected by the ban on the transit of large ships in the lagoon. For this purpose, an ad hoc sustainability fund has been included in the budget of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.

As informed, the Marghera area will be adapted to be able to accommodate large ships. Up to five docking points are to be built with a total investment amounting to EUR 157 million.

In 2018, the Italian government proposed a plan to reroute part of large vessels from the Guidecca Canal following an incident involving an MSC cruise ship. In June that year, MSC Opera cruise vessel crashed into a dock in the Giudecca canal, hitting a tourist boat. After the incident, conservationists and environmentalists called on the Italian government to ban cruise vessels in the historic city.

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