Boat waves up to 2 Meters High in the Heart of the Lagoon

What looks like open sea is actually waves caused by motorboats in the canale di Santa Caterina
The speed of motorboats and Tour Boats is being accused of causing serious waves that are putting the sandbars and islands at risk. Without any controls, the protests are mounting.

By Alberto Vitucci

3 May 2023

They’ll say that there were no patrols. Or that the waters are someone else’s responsibility. And that by now “everyone speeds”. But what we saw last Sunday, 20 April in the Burano Canal is scandalous and cannot be tolerated. Dozens, hundreds of motorboats and Tour Boats running at full speed – no respect for the other boats, with rare exceptions. The damage to the lagoon and the sandbars is evident, but also to the shores and the historic wall of Santa Caterina a Mazzorbo.

This is because the raids have pushed almost into the heart of Burano, an island that is also overwhelmed by the invasion of tourists on holidays. Thousands of arrivals. Boats running all-out, almost like a race between the delicate canals of the lagoon. The speed limits and requests to respect nature are a joke. One Tour Boat raised waves two meters high, sounding its horn for others to make way, not slowing even where required by ordinance, like in front of the island of San Giacomo in Paludo, or at the entrance of the canals of Mazzorbo and Santa Caterina, where the limit is 5 – 7 km/hr.

Speeds are at least four times that. Boats designed to run at sea produce waves and dig up the lagoon floor. The grey-black stain of sludge stirred up expands by hundreds of meters with each passage. You barely survive the crossing waves coming from the boats, the taxis, the rented motorboats and the cabin cruisers. Zero supervision, less than zero respect.

“It’s this way every Sunday”, is the desolate comment of a Burano fisherman intent on setting up his nets, “nobody intervenes. The folks who live off tourism might be happy. Us, definitely not.” And yet it would not take much. Slow down when crossing small boats. Maintain a speed that would allow the “displacing” hulls that don’t plane to not lift the sediment from the bottom. Teach behavior that is appropriate for the delicateness of the lagoon, which will be destroyed in just a few years under these conditions. The slap of the waves slams on to the salt marshes and the poor remains of the islands. The alarms remain unheard.

On Sundays there is zero oversight of the navigation canals that lead to San Marco, Murano and Burano. The ACTV boats, which produce dangerous waves when fully loaded, also use these routes. A camera would be enough. Or a GPS, requested for years but only used by ACTV vehicles and few others. Or a fixed post mid-course, a sign to inform people that the lagoon is not a no-man’s land. It’s fine to work and profit with tourism. It’s intolerable to see the advancing destruction. The new Lagoon Authority of should have taken care of this too. It should unify competencies and initiate coherent rules in inland, maritime and lagoon waters, and establish a single supervisory and control center.

There’s been nothing of the sort. The Authority has been stalled for almost three years. Defending the environment and fighting modo ondoso are no longer among its priorities. Meanwhile the lagoon is a Wild West. Sometimes row boaters who signal with their hand to slow down are threatened. We’ve learned nothing from the incident three months ago, when a mascareta was hit by a motorboat and split in two, risking the lives of the champions on board.

Source: La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre

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