Start of the fight : 16/05/2012

Fight won by : Anonymous

At the port of Capbreton, located in the south Landes Region, sanitation infrastructures and port equipment are obsolete and inadequate, in particular when it comes to the dry docks and the treatment of bilge water. These shortcomings in port maintenance have led to pollution in the waters at the port, and consequently of coastal waters. It has therefore become necessary to direct the port managers’ attention towards the issue and potential solutions.

The Keeper, who prefers to remain anonymous, carried out an audit of the Capbreton Port and observed the following dangerous circumstances:

  • All waste from fish sales at the port is thrown back into the water;
  • The treatment facilities for water issuing from the dry docks and for black water are obsolete and inadequate; It is impossible to carry out visual controls of the water issuing from the dry docks, and the system uses drinking water; There is only one pump available for the lifting of bilge water, which is attached in a very inconvenient place and hence hardly ever used.

To resolve these issues, the Keeper, who is a professional hydrologist, sent out several letters and eventually met with the port manager to suggest solutions. Only his proposition with regards to the treatment of the waste from fish sales was accepted, but nothing has been done about it. We are trying to help the Keeper convince the concerned actors of the necessity to achieve general sanitation standards at the port, preferably by embracing programmes on the management of port environments, such as the ‘ports propres’ (clean ports) programme.

Le Gardien


17th of March 2011: The Keeper of the Coast contacts us after detecting a pollution caused by an operational hydrocarbon spill from a fishing boat berthed at the harbour master’s office. He solicits our help as he wants to carry out an audit of Capbreton Harbour.

Early 2012: The Keeper observes a new pollution caused by an important run-off from the port.
As a former hydrologist, the Keeper carries out investigations and concludes that the port facilities are obsolete and inadequate, and in breach of section IV of the Environmental Code on harmful discharges at sea (articles L218-73,74), and of articles 20 and 47 of the internal port regulations.

5th of March 2012: The Keeper sends a letter to the Direction départementale de la cohésion sociale et de la protection des populations DDCSPP (‘Departmental Directorate for Social Cohesion and People Protection’, former DDASS) of the Landes Department describing the situation, which constitutes a health hazard at the Capbreton fishing port.

13th of April 2012: The Keeper sends a detailed letter to the DDCSPP denouncing the source of the pollution at the port.

16th of April 2012: The Keeper sends a detailed letter to the technical manager at Capbreton Port, offering him access to his study on the dysfunctions of the port facilities, and to his proposed solutions.

  1. Management of the waste from the fish stalls
  • Problem: All waste from fish sales at the port is thrown back into the water.
  • Proposed solution: Temporarily store all the waste in a cold room so that it can be entered into the conventional waste treatment process;
    • This suggestion is accepted by all the local skippers;
    • Project to link the port up to the local sewerage network;
    • Search for funding.
  1. Management of bilge water and ship engine leaks
  • Problem: obsolete and inadequate facilities (there is only one pump for the entire port, which is badly placed and thus never used), leading to the discharge of black water inside the port.
  • Proposed solution: Installation of a mobile transfer pump for the piers, and of a storage container on each pier.
    • This suggestion is rejected because the skippers do not feel responsible for the management of the bilge water, and the port manager reckons that if the existing pump is not being used, there is no need for more.
  1. Run-offs from dry docks
  • Problem 1: Use of drinking water.
  • Proposed solution: Installation of a freshwater well at the port so that non-drinkable freshwater can be used.
    •  The proposal is dismissed.
  • Problem 2: The water treatment facilities at the port date from the 1970s and are both obsolete and undersized.
  • Proposed solution: Installation of modern water treatment facilities.
    • The proposal is dismissed.

7th of December 2012: Meeting at the harbour master’s office between the Keeper of the Coast, a Surfrider representative in charge of water quality, and the technical manager of the port. The aim of this meeting is to present the Keeper of the Coast case file with the support of SFE. The meeting does not result in any further action from the port.

Chronologie des faits

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