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Anti-cruise ship protest in Brittany stops visitors from disembarking

Dozens of activists took part citing environmental and mass tourism concerns

Anti-cruise ships sentiment is growing in some parts of France, with activists saying that the ships, and mass tourism, have a negative impact Pic: Olga Gavrilova / Shutterstock

Climate change activists held a demonstration against cruise ships in Brittany at the weekend, leading to tourists being stopped from coming to shore, in protest at the environmental impact of mass tourism.

Several dozen activists took to the port in Douarnenez (Finistère) on Saturday, May 6, staying close to the side of a cruise ship there. It was decided for safety reasons to limit the number of tourists who were able to disembark to just a few during a planned two-day stay.

One activist said: “Maybe there are people who don’t realise the impact that their actions have on nature. We must learn to restrain ourselves.”

One of the tourists from the cruise ship Silver Wind remarked: “[The activists] have the right to their opinion, but we’re not exactly killing whales. We’re not hurting the environment.”

Protests increasing over mass tourism

Protests against cruise ships and mass tourism have increased in France in recent months. Huge cruise ships in particular have been targeted due to the effect they have on pollution.

However, the decision to stop tourists from disembarking also attracted criticism from local shopkeepers in Douarnenez, who rely on income from the regular arrival of tourists. One owner symbolically put his kiosk ‘on sale’ in protest against the actions.

The protests in Brittany come almost a year after an anti-cruise ship petition from Mayor Benoît Payan attracted almost 50,000 signatures in Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône). It called for an end to pollution from all ships in the port, especially giant cruise ships.

At the time, Mr Payan branded the ships as "floating cities” that “emit as much pollution as a million cars". He said that the “scandal…is attacking our lungs, our health; it pollutes the sea [and] destroys biodiversity of this harbour”. 

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