The plan envisages 4,800 new berths across the country

Opposition from a number of environmental organisations is building up against an Israeli government plan to develop five new marinas and expand eight existing ones by 2030, according to a report by the CTech online media outlet.

The plan envisages a total of 4,800 new berths across the country to combat a big shortage of places to moor privately owned leisure craft and other boats. The plan would see the number of berths rise from the current 2,900 to 7,600. The environmental bodies are joining forces to oppose the plans, which they cite as benefitting a limited number of people at the expense of beaches, animals and the public.

In terms of location, the five new marinas are proposed to be built in Hadera, Haifa, Nahariya and two in Netanya. Expansion of existing facilities is envisaged for three existing marinas in Tel Aviv, and one each in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Herzliya, Haifa and Acre.

According to the Israel Port Authority’s planning team which overseeing the proposals, the plan is not only about creating more berths but also promoting water sports and marine education. This team suggests that in three years the demand for berths will exceed the supply, which is linked to a 3-4% annual growth in the number of boats. At present, the authority has some 24,000 small craft on its register.

The environmental organisations claim that the plan is all about increasing the number of berths, with no wider agenda to include sports or marine tourism. Of particular concern is the possible damage to turtle nesting sites as well as beach erosion.

The organisation leading the opposition is the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI). They suggest that the need for extra berths can be met by expanding existing marinas rather than building new ones.

The marina expansion plan is in its early stages with planning and other issues still to work through.