Improvement of Zone A markers

The particular configuration of this marine area – located in an open stretch of sea far from the coast and therefore strongly exposed to meteorological and marine elements, and above all to the considerable energy generated by swell and sea currents – means that the markers currently installed are subject to considerable wear and tear and almost continuous stress.

Especially exposed to this particular situation are the two markers located furthest offshore, which demarcate the M (north-west point) and Q (south-west point) vertices of Zone A of the MPA’s fully protected nature reserve, i.e. the zone of maximum protection.

These points are currently marked by two deep-sea buoys, which, due to their position, bear the brunt of the sea currents and swell from the main storm quadrants (south/south-west/north-west). This is demonstrated by the significant use of resources by the managing body for the maintenance and upkeep of these markings in situ, with various interventions necessary to maintain their correct position and full working order in compliance with maritime regulations and the Code of Navigation.

The Park Authority has therefore considered the possibility of improving the configuration of the two most offshore markers in Zone “A”, in order to make them more functional and stable, especially with respect to the stress conditions to which they are subjected.

The planned intervention envisages the replacement of the two existing buoys and the design of two new stable markers, not floating but fixed to the seabed, capable of improving the visibility of the MPA in general and of this area of maximum protection in particular, as well as playing a multifunctional role.

Indeed, this improvement offers the opportunity to make the two new structures multifunctional. Their geo-environmental position – two fixed points in an open sea area, quite some distance from the coast – is of paramount interest for both scientific aspects and the direct monitoring of the MPA.

The new markers may consist of so-called “elastic beacons” that stand approximately 7 m above sea level, and may be designed in such a way as to accommodate the installation of various multi-parametric technical and scientific instruments at their summit, capable of carrying out environmental and marine measurements (e.g. meteorological data, atmospheric measurements or measurements of the marine environment) and of monitoring the protected marine area with remote control instruments.

The specific features of the new markers can be summarised as follows:

  1. maximum resilience to meteorological and marine elements, notably swell,
  2. durability of structural and functional components,
  3. ease of inspection and maintenance,
  4. reduction in the need for maintenance/restoration work,
  5. possibility of installing a variety of technical and scientific instruments on the markers,
  6. possibility of access to the markers by designated/authorised personnel,
  7. increased visibility in terms of maritime signalling,
  8. improved recognisability of the presence of the marine protected area.

Example of an “elastic beacon” equipped with multi-parametric instruments in the Portofino MPA

Of particular interest, therefore, is the multi-functionality that the new markers will be able to have, as well as their increased visibility, which will contribute to the improved recognisability of this marine protected area, especially its zone of highest protection. This last aspect is often overlooked, but it is a very important factor for a marine area located entirely in the open sea, with no bearings or reference points on land. As a result, it is very often barely recognised and identified by users, or even not seen at all by yachtsmen sailing in these waters.

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