Rome, 14 July 2021 (dpa/MIA) — Italy’s government has decided to ban large cruise ships from entering the Venice Lagoon.
The measure applies to cruise ships with more than 25,000 gross registered tonnage or a length of more than 180 metres or a height of more than 35 metres, the government announced in Rome on Tuesday evening.
Vessels that exceed certain emission standards will also no longer be able to sail through the lagoon of the world heritage city.
Ships that are considered sustainable or do not fall under the criteria for the ban may continue to pass through the lagoon, it added. These are, for example, cruise ships with a capacity of around 200 passengers.
The decree will come into force one day after its publication in the official gazette.
According to several ministries, the ships will no longer be able to sail through the lagoon as of August 1. The government sees this as an important step towards protecting the Venetian lagoon.
The cruise line association told dpa on Tuesday evening that the ban was “not bad news.” The industry would not have prioritized Venice this year anyway.
Now they have a little more planning security, as the port in Marghera, where container ships currently dock, is to serve as a temporary mooring point for the transition.
The Ministry of Infrastructure announced in the evening that 157 million euros (185 million dollars) in investments were to be made available for the moorings in Marghera.
Minister Enrico Giovannini said it was an inevitable step to protect Venice’s environment, landscape, art and culture.
However, this is a temporary solution. In parallel, the Port of Venice is looking for mooring proposals outside the lagoon for the future, so that ships will no longer sail through the Canale della Giudecca, past the famous St Mark’s Square.
Ideas can be presented up to December 31, from which a panel of five experts will select the three best ones. Feasibility plans for these are to be developed by December 31, 2022. The winning project is to be determined by June 30, 2023. The Ministry of Infrastructure wants to provide 2.2 million euros for this.
The measures of the Council of Ministers led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi come a few weeks after experts of the UN cultural organization UNESCO proposed putting Venice on a negative list of endangered world heritage.
UNESCO justified its concerns by citing the cruise ships in Venice, which critics warn are polluting and endangering the environment there.
Only at the beginning of June did a cruise ship visit Venice again after a good year and a half of a ban imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
For years, locals and activists have protested against the huge ships in the architecturally sensitive city in north-eastern Italy.