Seine Maritime, France

03/11/11

Two projects are awaiting the outcome of their application for a concession to extract marine aggregates from the submerged seabed off the coast of Saint-Valéry-en-Caux. Marine aggregates are pieces of rock that can measure up to 125mm across. They are the main material used by cement manufacturers in construction works. The sediments are sucked up from the ocean floor, destroying all life on the seabed in the area and causing a turbid cloud spanning several hundreds of square kilometres. This project is an environmental outrage. Not only does it devastate the sea floor, but it also impacts on diving sites, on the quality of bathing waters, and/or even on the food chain.

The Keeper Bertrand, who is working with the pressure group Totemdemer, is asking for a 3-year moratorium on the projects to gain time for debates on the preservation of these non-renewable resources. To this aim, he has set up an internet site called Totemdemer, which highlights the magnificent biodiversity that is being threatened by this type of exploitation. Wishing to inform people about the dangers inherent in the projects, SFE and Bertrand drew up a map of all the concessions for the exploitation of marine aggregates, which were sent to over 1,500 recipients. Several articles were dedicated to this issue, including a primer on marine aggregates.

According to Bertrand, it would be desirable to find an alternative solution to the use of marine aggregates in construction, especially by improving the recycling of debris from building sites. It is in this view that he cooperated with a scientific journalist on the filming of a documentary called 'Underwater Quarries' to raise awareness in as many people as possible on the impacts caused by such projects. The mobilisation of the Guardian and its collective has achieved the rallying of numerous citizens for the cause, but he is still struggling to get the extraction companies to listen. Our teams are working on getting our arguments across with regards to the preservation of this threatened biodiversity at the Assises de la Mer et du Littoral (political conference on the oceans and coastlines).

Despite his exceptional commitment and daily efforts, out of the six concessions claimed by the exploitation project developers, three have already been granted. If you would like to support Bertrand, please contact the collective 'Totemdemer'.

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