Cannes may need to wait a bit before you can open its “first museum submarine in France”. The city planned to immerse statues of two metres high at low depth, to the south of the island of Sainte-Marguerite, that we feel, off the Croisette. The work of artist Jason deCaire Taylor, who specializes in sculptures under the sea, was to be inaugurated this summer.
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The prefect of the PACA region has decided otherwise. In an order dated 3 April, he asked the realization of a study of the impact of the project on the environment. In the name of the potential impact of this museum on the “biodiversity, natural habitats, and, potentially, several protected species”, in particular on the Posidonia meadows located nearby. Plants typically mediterranean, it is necessary to the preservation of the local ecosystem.
Jason deCaires Taylor has installed his sculptures underwater in many seas of the globe: in the Atlantic, in the Indian ocean, Caribbean sea, sea of Bali… But not yet in the Mediterranean. Jason deCaires Taylor/www.underwatersculpture.com
In response, the mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, has issued an appeal for reconsideration to contest the decision of the order. In his letter, he regrets the “disproportion between the modesty of the project ( the outlet to the floor is 54 m2, ED) in terms of the ecological footprint and the decision imposing the completion of an environmental assessment.” The municipal official fears a postponement of the inauguration to at least one year, the time that the impact study is conducted. That otherwise would result in an additional cost of 12.960 €, according to the Mayor, contacted by Le Figaro .
To support its denial of the impact study, David Lisnard puts it, “lack of effect of the project on the environment, but above all, on the contrary, a positive impact, linked in particular to its location on a site that is very heavily degraded by man.” In fact, the statues will be installed in an area heavily polluted from macrodéchets, that the city is committed to clean. In addition, the implementation of a double pipe EDF in 1992, has prevented any biodiversity to develop. According to the mayor of Cannes, the statues will become “artificial reefs used for refuge, gradually colonized by the fauna and flora underwater”. He also believes that this museum will “raise public awareness of the need to respect and conserve marine biodiversity”.
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The other point of tension lies on the use of the site. The prefect considers that “the project is likely to generate additional traffic in an area already heavily attended all year”, which could degrade the local environment. The city council considers, conversely, that “we will not in any event increase the number of shuttle boat to access the island. The number of visitors is, and will remain stable and regulated”. In addition, “the site considered is located in close proximity to a swimming area is already very crowded”, which will be extended to the cleaned site of the future ecomuseum. Sanctuarisé, it will be more accessible to the traffic naval.
The area of implantation of the project had to be changed in 2018, for the reasons just environmental, which had already pushed back the opening. The mayor believes they have since provided enough documentation to prove the well-founded ecological project .”The dossier submitted by the city of Cannes […], by its completeness, is apparent already at an impact study. An environmental study extra will not bring any new element likely to demonstrate a greater positive impact on the environment,” he warns. He also recalls that the museum has received support from Didier Laurent, in charge of the local site Natura 2000, and environmental associations present on the island of Sainte-Marguerite.
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Jason deCaires Taylor is known for creating statues, which become, once under the water, reliefs welcoming a new biodiversity. Already scattered off of the United Kingdom, Grenada, Mexico, Norway, the Maldives, or Indonesia, his works have never been implemented in France. The Mayor of Cannes has also received a five-year exclusive for the statues, from the date of delivery, be deferred, therefore, until further notice. The region prepares a new decree, in response to the appeal of David Lisnard, whose content remains for the moment unknown.