SPNI Leads The Charge Against Plan for Five New Marinas

Netanya coast. Photo Moshe Perlmuter SPNI

A new plan being promoted by the government to construct five new marinas and expand eight existing ones by 2040 has prompted SPNI to launch a nationwide campaign to protect the beaches being threatened and the wildlife that call them home.

With the aim of increasing the number of docking spots for private marine vehicles in Israel from 2,900 to 7,600, the plan proposes the construction of new marinas in Nahariya, Haifa, and Hadera, Netanya and Tel-Aviv, with expansions planned for three existing marinas in Tel Aviv, and one each in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Herzliya, Haifa, and Acre (Akko).

In the proposal, the Israel Port Authority’s planning team highlights a desire to promote water sports and marine education, but SPNI has revealed that most of the plan is devoted to docking spaces and sea crafts, including privately owned yachts. The authority estimates that in three years demand for docking will exceed available space due to a steady growth rate of 3%-4% in the number of crafts every year. Currently, some 24,000 small-size crafts are registered with the authority, but there are also several thousands of unregistered crafts.

 Hadera coast. Photo Moshe Perlmuter, SPNISPNI’s key concerns are that the construction of these new marinas, which will take up an average of 700 meters of shore area, will oust beach goers and severely damage marine habitats, including local sea turtle nesting sites, and cause sand erosion in nearby beaches. SPNI is proposing solutions that could add over 3,000 docking spaces to existing marinas, negating the need for construction along the shorelines.

“We are readying ourselves for a lengthy battle. Israel is poor in coastal areas, and yacht docks should not be high on the priority list.  The growth in the number of private naval vehicles can be met by expanding existing marinas, by repurposing structures, and by reorganizing existing locations more efficiently,” said Eran Bin Nun, SPNI’s Urban and Environmental Planner.

“Mayors usually see new marinas as an attraction, bolstered by restaurants, cafes, and retailers, but the reality is the opposite. In the end, what they will have is a promenade with restaurants and cafes on one side, and on the other, a structure that blocks access to the sea and any marine view. Solutions can be found for any need, but the current proposal serves a very small group at the expense of everyone else.”

Iris Nature Reserve Beach, Netanya. Photo Moshe Perlmuter, SPNIAccording to a statement from the Israel Planning Administration (IPA), an independent unit under the Israeli Ministry of Finance, the proposal, which is still in its initial stages, will answer the current lack of docking spaces by creating a long-term, encompassing policy and designating approved spaces for marina developments, while taking into account urban and ecological concerns.

The IPA is currently in the midst of updating its plans for both existing and new marinas, and is working according to a recently approved policy to limit coastal development only to urban areas and not to open spaces.

SPNI strongly believes that Israel’s beaches belong to every citizen and will continue to lead the charge promoting the development of existing marinas to allow for new docking areas for private boats without endangering our precious and unique Israeli nature.