Italy has banned cruise ships from the Venice Lagoon in what appears to be a final move hailed by anti-cruise ship activists.
“We finally seem to have made it,” said Tommaso Cacciari, the leader of No Grandi Navi (No Big Ships), an activist group that has been protesting against ships for more than a decade.
Urged to act quickly after Unesco threatened to put Venice on its endangered species list unless Italy permanently bans cruise ships from docking at the World Heritage site, the government said on Tuesday that vessels weighing over 25,000 tonnes would be banned from the lagoon from August 1.
Cruise lines will have to remove Venice from their itineraries until the industrial port of Marghera is reassigned to passengers. The government has appointed a commissioner to speed up the work, which would normally take around six months. At the same time, a call for tenders for the construction of a terminal equipped to accommodate ships of over 40,000 tonnes was published at the end of June.
The 25,000-tonne limit means that only small passenger ferries and freight ships will be able to use the Giudecca Canal to enter the historic center of Venice.
Workers and businesses affected by the changes will be compensated, according to a statement from Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office.
“The decree adopted today constitutes an important step for the protection of the Venetian lagoon,” the statement said.
In early June, activists protested after being taken by surprise when a cruise liner entered the city despite a government announcement in April banning ships.
At the same time, a counter-demonstration was organized by Si Grandi Navi, a movement that supports the thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on the cruise industry and who have been unemployed since the pandemic last spring.
The Cruise Lines International Association said, “The cruise industry has supported a new approach for many years, so this is a big step forward. In addition, the government’s decision to appoint a special commissioner to speed up the process is a welcome development. We now look forward to progress towards delivering alternative mooring arrangements in time for the 2022 season. ”