Competitions include offshore boat racing and jet-ski racing. These events bring a large concentration of boats in a small area.

Offshore races take place in the open sea, in speedboats that are able to reach speeds of 250 km/h. There are significant risks to marine mammals (noise, collision, pollution), especially in periods of reproduction, birth and feeding.

Clause 9 of the Pelagos Agreement states that ‘the Parties are united in seeking to regulate and, if necessary, ban high-speed vehicle competitions within the Sanctuary’. France, Italy and Monaco are working together on this matter, with a consensus emerging. These races are banned in the Italian territorial waters within the Sanctuary (Clause 5 of Law n°391 of 11th October 2001), while in the Principality of Monaco, any request to race is subject to prior authorization but prohibited in its waters, that are all part of the Sanctuary. In recent years, France has rejected a number of requests to host high-speed vehicle races.

The lack of knowledge on the direct and indirect threats posed by high-speed vehicles does not allow the definition of specific management measures. Further research is thus required.

As a means of limiting the risk of collisions, marine and noise pollution and stress, the precautionary principle should prevail as a matter of course. Furthermore, the safety of pilots must be ensured.

Jet skis routes are often non linear. Cetaceans nearby can be caught off guard by the speed of the boats and are sometimes unable to break free from the jet skis when they are ‘chased’ by them. In addition, the noise produced by jet skis seems to interfere with the sounds individuals use to communicate with one another as they use the same frequency. In Italy, jet skiing is never allowed more than 500 m from the coast and is supervised at all times.

In order to better regulate these competitive races, more information is needed on sensitive cetacean sites (feeding, breeding, nursing areas), seasonal changes and the behavior and distribution of populations.

The Pelagos Sanctuary is currently working on a decision-aiding grid to establish the supervision framework for the supervision of high-speed vehicle races.

Threats

Ship strikes, disturbance, oil pollution, noise, greenhouse gaz emission