Brittany: Justice requires states to step up the fight against green tides

The Rennes Administrative Court, seized by the Eau et Rivières de Bretagne association, ordered the prefect of Brittany to take new regulatory measures to combat green tides within four months.

“It is a historic victory,” Alain Bonnnec, president of Eau et Rivières de Bretagne, was quoted as saying in a press release. “But what a waste of time! How many millions of green algae plans have been invested in vain for lack of sufficient regulations!”

In a ruling on Friday, the court said “strengthening the actions taken remains necessary to permanently restore water quality in Brittany” and “to prevent the green tide phenomenon as much as possible”.

Present in the sea in its natural state, green algae breed in the Breton bays, where they feed on nitrate intakes that farmers spread across the fields and whose excess is transported by coastal rivers.

A woman walks on a beach covered with green algae in Locquirec, western France, on July 2, 2017. Tidal changes of green algae began to appear on the coast of Breton about fifty years ago. (AFP / Archive – DAMIEN MEYER)

“The Prefect of Brittany himself admits, in defense, that despite the positive results in terms of water quality, it remains degraded in certain territories,” the court points out, recalling that in 2018 only half of the basins reached “good bay condition” targets.

The court therefore ordered the prefect to take measures to “control nitrogen fertilization and proper management of agricultural land” upstream of beaches where green algae spread. In addition, a “precise definition of the mechanism for implementing binding regulatory measures” is required in the event of failure of measures prompted by the plan to combat green algae.

These measures must be taken within four months of the notification of the Minister of Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili.

When asked by AFP, the prefecture of Brittany did not immediately follow.

“We now expect the prefect to take more restrictive and protective measures for water resources,” Mr Bonnec said.

The Eau et Rivières de Bretagne association, which launched a campaign against green tides in May (, is organizing a demonstration this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in Lorient (Morbihan).

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