Start of the fight : 03/11/2011

Fight won by : Bertrand

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'.

Le Gardien

Bertrand is the coordinator of the 'Totemdemer' collective.


November 2011: All diving clubs in Haute Normandie, the main environmental associations, and certain local and national politicians are informed about the impacts of this project.
The Keeper of the Coast Bertrand receives the support of many associations and of a network of scientific experts.
He also meets with the lawyer Jean Grésy, who has managed to reverse a similar project in the past.

14th of February 2012: Prefectural decree giving exploitation rights to the economic interest group (GIE) Manche Est.

12th of June 2012: The GIE Manche Est has begun exploitation of its concession for an area  spanning 34 km2 just off St Valéry en Caux on the Alabaster Coast.

July 2012: Creation of a video documentary.

Summer 2012: The 'grain of sand strategy' (sent to national and regional newspapers).

October 2012: A request is sent to Pierre-Arnaud Duclos asking him to to share his thesis on "Les impacts morpho-sédimentaires de l'extraction de granulats sur les fonds marins dans la Manche orientale" ('The Morphosedimentary Impacts from Aggregate Extraction from the Marine Floor of the Eastern English Channel').

13th and 14th of November 2012: International meeting on marine and coastal biodiversity (SFE volunteers are present).

November 2012: Abécédaire du granulat marin ('A Complete Guide to Marine Aggregates')

18th of January 2013: National Council of the Seas and Coastlines (SFE legal expert present). The marine aggregates industry is very well represented.  How is it that a foreign company can exploit a marine aggregates concession in French waters?

20th of January 2013: Creation of a map on marine aggregate exploitation sites, which is emailed to 1,500 supporters in the Departments Calvados, Eure, Manche, Oise, Orne, Pas-de-Calais, Seine-Maritime, and Somme.
There are two advantages to this map: It allows us to base ourselves on different sources than Ifremer and the UNPG (Union nationale des producteurs de granulats = National Union of Aggregate Producers), and to better define the notion of affected surface, which by far exceeds the area allocated for a concession.

February 2013: Opening meeting of the Assises de la Mer et du Littoral ('Congress on the Seas and Coastlines') at the National Council for the Seas and the Coastlines (CNML): The topic at the centre of this congress is the necessity to put into place a national strategy for the seas and coastlines.

8th of March 2013: Decree authorising the GIE 'Saint-Nicolas' to extract marine aggregates. The concession is nicknamed the 'Saint-Nicolas concession'.

16th of April 2013: Decree authorising the GIE 'Gris Nez' to extract marine aggregates. The concession is nicknamed the 'Gris Nez Concession'.

Chronologie des faits

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