Endangered World Heritage City: Petra Reski: "A cruise port in Venice has no future"

Your adopted home of Venice is close to your heart.

Endangered World Heritage City: Petra Reski: "A cruise port in Venice has no future"

Your adopted home of Venice is close to your heart. You have always spoken out against the presence of large ships, especially from the cruise sector, for years. What's the status today?

Petra Reski: As befits fake news, the hoax about the "ban on cruise ships from Venice" spread around the world faster than the corona virus. In the pandemic, people long for good news, for the Davids winning against Goliath, so nobody wanted to admit that cruise ships are still allowed to enter Venice.

Petra Reski is a well-known German writer and journalist who has lived in Venice for more than 30 years. Her last book: "Once I fell into the Grand Canal" was published in 2021.

The only difference now is that the cruise ships over 25,000 GT and 180 meters in length now have to take a different route, via the Canale dei petroli, the canal for the oil tankers, which has led to the devastating erosion of the central part of the lagoon - the as The "killer" of the lagoon applies: a 20 km long and 200 m wide shipping highway, between 11.5 and 17 meters deep, which leads from the lagoon opening in Malamocco to the industrial port in Marghera.

The maximum speed here is 20 kilometers per hour, which means that every passage of a tanker or cruise ship causes a small tsunami in the lagoon. It is equally devastating for the lagoon whether the cruise ships, which today are mostly measured with more than 140,000 GT, enter via the St. Mark's Basin or via the oil tanker channel. The detour that cruise ships are now taking is merely a bluff that won't change the destruction of the lagoon - but helped the Italian government save face with Unesco. Because she had once again threatened to put Venice on the red list of threatened world heritage.

Do you think there is any future for cruise tourism in Venice?

Venice is an emblem for a city incompatible with cruise ships: the port of Venice is located in the middle of a lagoon that is naturally not deep enough for giant ships. The lagoon is actually a shallow water area, originally between 40 and 70 centimeters deep, due to the erosion caused by the shipping traffic in the deeper dug canals, it is now an average of two meters deep. The Vittorio Emanuele canal was dug for the industrial port of Marghera in the 19th century, and with the construction of the petrochemical plant in Marghera in the 1960s, the canal for oil tankers.

As early as the 1970s, scientists demonstrated how the current conditions in the lagoon had changed as a result, which was caused by the concreting of the lagoon openings for the construction of the M.O.S.E. flood barrier. was reinforced: the depth of the channel increases the flow rate of the water. When the bottom is deeper, the wind has a different effect: the waves in the lagoon today are like those in the Atlantic, and there is no longer any question of flat water. Because the central part of the lagoon has turned into an estuary, the floodwaters are unstoppable and flow faster and more powerfully into the city, which was most recently devastated by the storm surge of November 2019.

Despite this, the Italian government, in perfect harmony with the mayor and the regional government for cruise ships, is planning to deepen not only the oil tanker canal but also the Vittorio Emanuele canal - all without the essential environmental assessment. Further digging of the canals would spell the final end not only for the Venetian Lagoon but for Venice as well.

What would be acceptable alternatives?

Basically, a cruise port in Venice has no future. A deep sea port like Trieste is much better suited for this – it would be worth investing in a fast train connection so that cruise tourists could also visit Venice from Trieste. The boat traffic in Venice must be radically rethought, only small cruise ships with no draft would have a chance here. Because even with plans for berths outside the lagoon, hairsplitting is practiced: there is, for example, the project of the steel company Duferco, which proposes to build a cruise terminal 500 meters from the artificial concrete island of the MOSE lock. This would mean that millions more cubic meters of lagoon bottom would have to be excavated for this project and legions of cruise tourists would cross the lagoon and deal it the deathblow.

What role does M.O.S.E. for her?

From: "On board - the magazine for ship travel and maritime worlds", issue 2/2022

Leaving aside the fact that this is the biggest bribery scandal of post-war Italy, the destruction of the lagoon with the construction of the M.O.S.E. – Movable water gates on the seabed are designed to function like dams during a high tide – peaked. The project, carried out by the Consorzio Venezia Nuova, a private association of Italian contractors, without any tender, takes into account neither the conditions under water - the hinges of the tide gates are already rusted, sediment has rotted the tide gates - nor the rise in sea level: the openings of the lagoon to the sea ​​were dug even deeper, which means even more flooding for Venice.

The result is what is called the "laguna ferita" in Venice, the wounded lagoon: the paradigm of an old body that is mutilated, poisoned and eviscerated on a daily basis. CUNT. cost around 8 billion euros, the project is 30 years old and is already considered outdated: the rise in sea level was taken into account during the construction and planning of the billion-euro project M.O.S.E. Simply calculated: When the researchers of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were already warning of an increase of between 50 and 88 centimeters by the end of this century, the scientists who were paid to build the M.O.S.E. commissioned coalition of private Italian contractors, the rise in sea level down to a very optimistic 22 or at worst 31.4 centimeters. With sea levels rising, the gates of the M.O.S.E. will soon close practically every day - and the ships can no longer enter.

Now each use of M.O.S.E. around 300,000 euros - and scientists are already reporting on the first damage to the lagoon. With the flood gates closed, salt marshes vital to the Venice Lagoon are at risk, a study published in Nature found: M.O.S.E. solves the problems of flooding for the built-up areas, but on the other hand destroys the salt marshes because they need the sediments washed up by the floods to survive. In short: Thanks to M.O.S.E. in a vicious circle. The basic problem remains the port of Venice. Because the flood, the M.O.S.E. fought only came about through the destruction of the lagoon, through the deep digging of the canals for shipping traffic. Although sea level rise is exacerbating this, the main problem is lagoon erosion.

Ecologically, you see an end to the Venice Lagoon imminent in the foreseeable future. What is this forecast based on?

Above all, I see an end for the Port of Venice. It is incompatible with Venice. Anyone who continues to insist on running the Venetian harbor is accepting the end of Venice: Venice cannot exist without its lagoon. If it is destroyed, Venice will also be destroyed.

Also read:

- Illustrated book about the lagoon city: The last real Venetians

- Fight against mass tourism: In future, Venice will only allow cruise ships to anchor in the industrial port

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