The contribution was made in an online session where MedCities Secretary General, Mr. Josep Canals, participated as representative of the association involved in this topic. The webinar was organized by Plan Bleu in partnership with Blue Growth Community, the Sustainable Tourism Community and the Mediterranean Biodiversity Protection Community, Interreg Med horizontal Projects (2019-2022) in which MedCities is involved.

The common objective was to capitalize on innovative knowledge and experiences addressing the main sustainability gaps of the cruises and recreational boating sectors. The webinar also consolidated and further expanded the space of dialogue and exchange created on this issue through the project BlueBoatsMed, a start-up action supported by the BlueMed CSA.

In his intervention, MedCities Secretary General, Mr. Josep Canals pointed out these main points to take into account: 

  • The need for strong regulation and common European and international laws: to have the same legal roadmap in all Mediterranean ports and abroad.

  • The need of traceability (related to negative impacts: waste management, etc).

  • The need of local authorities’ competences because they are the ones having a clear vision of the real impacts in their ports and they can give advice to the authorities about how to reduce the social and environmental impacts in its ports and marinas.

  • Study the possibility to implement financial policies to give financial help to the MPAs.

The scope of the session was to brainstorm over the structure and main contents of the “Guidelines for the sustainability of cruises and recreational boating in the Mediterranean region” to identify and promote the capitalization of innovative approaches, methods, tools, practices, etc. able to address the main sustainability challenges of the two sectors, including cruise ports and marinas. 

The Guidelines will provide Mediterranean decision makers and major stakeholders with an evidence-based sustainability roadmap in order to harness the opportunities offered by the two sectors while mitigating their adverse impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems, associated biodiversity, climate, air quality and local communities.


With EUR 40 billion economic impact and 6 million passengers, the cruise sector plays an important role in the economies of the Mediterranean countries. Although it owns huge potential in terms of jobs creation and business opportunities, the prevailing business model adopted by the cruise industry poses serious environmental challenges and social pressures at destination level. A growing number of stakeholders are raising their voice for an innovative and inclusive approach able to increase sector’s environmental and social standards.

As for the recreational boating sector, it generates revenues and employment with a positive economic impact on local communities, especially in France, Spain and Italy which account for 80% of the total demand in the Mediterranean. However, several issues and common practices of the sector, in particular the segment of super yachts, keep posing serious threats to Mediterranean marine ecosystems.