Exisiting facilities to be upgraded

The Israeli government has major plans to expand the country’s stock of marinas. The plan, being initiated by the Transportation Ministry, involved the construction of nine new coastal marinas and the upgrading of existing facilities, according to a report in the Haaretz newspaper.

The plan, which could see a sizeable chunk of Israel’s short coastline being absorbed by the new marinas, has given rise to opposition which questions the need for the new facilities. In particular, the Society for the protection of Nature in Israel is opposing the plans.

The ministry’s plan envisaged the nine new marinas being developed on Israel’s coast over the next several years. The new marinas are included in an Israeli national master plan for the development of the country’s ports and marinas.

Under the scheme, more berths would be added to existing marinas at Acre, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Herzliya and Tel Aviv. The new marinas are proposed to be sited at Acre, Hadera, Kiryat Yam, Nahariya, Netanya, Rishon Letzion and Tel Aviv. If implemented in full, the plan would at least triple the country’s marina berth capacity from 2,900 or so currently to between 10,000 and 13,000 berths.

The new marinas are seen not only to be boating places but also centres for watersport, boat charters and other facilities, so adding to the country’s tourism opportunities. However, expanding berth capacity is the prime aim as the ministry sees a shortage of some 1,500 berths – a shortage which is anticipated to increase over the next 20 years as the country’s population grows to some 10 million, and it is estimated 70% of this total will live within 25m of the coast.

Opposition to the plan has already been made known by the government’s Environment Protection Ministry. Their view is that the number of new marinas proposed should be reduced. The environment ministry also challenges the Transportation Ministry’s growth forecasts for yacht tourism.

The Haaretz report quoted the environment ministry as saying: “Israel is not an attractive destination for yacht tourism because it does not have any islands, bays and inlets like Greece or Turkey.” Israel’s Mediterranean coast is only 200km long.

In regard to expanding existing marinas, at Herzliya 45 berths are suggested, taking the total to 810 and at Haifa’s Shavit Marina another 200 to 400 berths are planned, taking the total up to a potential 760.