French fishermen blockaded the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer to protest over the proposal from the Commission to ban bottom-fishing in MPAs

French fishermen blockaded the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer to protest over the proposal from the Commission to ban bottom-fishing in MPAs. Photo: Olivier Lepretre

French fishermen took to blockading the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer for two days this week, to protest over the proposal from the European Commission to ban bottom-fishing in marine protected areas.

Just like their counterparts in the Netherlands and in Germany, French fishermen are concerned that the impact of the ban will lead to many of them losing their livelihoods as increased pressures bear down on the industry including increasing fuel prices, offshore wind developments and highly protected marine areas.

French fishing organisations had written to the President Macron to support their cause, but it seems like the French premier is backing the Commission.

The President of des Pêcheurs des Hauts-de-France, Olivier Lepretre called for other EU Member States to rally against the ban saying, “President Emmanuel Macron has confirmed his support for this European aberration but he is not the only one to decide, it needs the agreement of the 27 states… we need very strong national and European political support. To this we add the administrative and environmental pressures that have become too heavy, fishermen have become responsible for all the ills of the planet, we are almost ashamed to practice this profession that I recall it feeds the population.”

Yesterday the Comité Régional des Pêches Maritimes et des Élevages Marins HDF wrote, “Fishermen are not against MPAs, on the contrary, better protection of the seas and oceans and improved sustainable resource management are paramount to the survival of the planet. We are just against the drastic measures inside the MPAs that make fishing impossible.”

The Organization des Poissonniers Écaillers de France (OPEF) is the body that federates the companies of the fishmongers in France (artisans and wholesalers) has called for “Solidarité à la pêche française” (Solidarity with French Fishing) calling for a national strike my the industry on Thursday 30 and Friday 31 March, to protest over the continued treatment of the fishery sector.

In an open letter they write:

“French fishing has been under unprecedented constraints for several years. Strongly impacted by the consequences of quotas and Brexit, weakened by the exit of a large number of vessels, by increases in diesel prices, by increasingly heavy regulatory constraints, it is already facing new threats, in particular the proposed ban on bottom trawling in marine protected areas, threat to a third of French fisheries.

The recent decision of the Council of State, the scope of which is not yet known, constitutes an additional and intolerable attack on the profession and a logical catalyst for fishermen to be fed up.

OPEF recalls that for a seafarer at sea, there are 4 jobs on land. French fishing, one of the most virtuous in the world, is the main source of supply for artisanal fishmongers of France.

Also, in connection with all the other links in the sector: fish trading, processing, distribution, gathered this morning within France Fishing Industry, OPEF, on behalf of its members, wished to reaffirm its support for fishermen.

For this, we relay the call of the National Committee of Fisheries and Marine Farms (CNPEM) for a “dead sector” Thursday, March 30 and / or Friday, March 31.

Professionals may decide to close or relay information messages to their customers. It has been planned this morning that France Filière Pêche will communicate a specific display at each link.  Artisanal fishmongers will thus be able to have information on the movement to transmit to their customers.

Naturally, the actions will not be limited to this and OPEF calls for the sector to be able in the coming months to legally support actions to protect fishermen and secure our sector.”

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