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The President of the CNPMEM has told the President of France that a ban on fishing in the Bay of Biscay will be the death of fishermen

The President of the Comite des Peches (CNPMEM) has written to the President of France to criticise the decision by the Council of State to ban fishing in the Bay of Biscay.

In his letter, Olivier le Nezet tells President Macron that a ban on fishing in the Bay of Biscay will be the death of fishermen, and that radical environmentalism is endangering food security in France and Europe.

The Council of State, the highest court in France, told the French Government to make legislation prohibiting fishing in the bay after a huge increase in the number of dead dolphins being washed ashore on the bay’s beaches. The French Oceanographic Institute reported that at least 910 dolphins have been washed ashore on France’s Atlantic coastline since the start of the winter. Over a single week, more that 400 marine mammals were found stranded along the coast.

Environmental non-governmental organisations (eNGOs) have been putting pressure on the French government and the European Commission to stop fishermen operating in the Bay of Biscay in order to protect dwindling dolphin numbers.

This week the Council of State ordered the ban after eNGOs, including Sea Shepherd, filed a legal complaint against the government over the dolphin and porpoise deaths.

The Secrétariat D’Etat Chargé de la Mer, in reply to the Council of State said that there was an emergency plan in place since the summer of 2022 in conjunction with the fishermen, eNGOs and scientists which included cameras and scaring devices to keep cetaceans away from fishing nets. The Secrétariat said that the fishing sector had demonstrated its desire to preserve the marine environment and biodiversity through the investment made by fishermen in these measures.

Following on from the Council of State judgement, the President of the CNPMEM sent the following letter to the President of the France, Emmanuel Macron criticising the European Commission and eNGOs actions:


Mr. President of the Republic,


The news of our sector has become unbearable. I say this because from memory, I have never seen such a flood of attacks.

It is all these aggressions that call into question our profession. They have become intolerable for me. What for? Because they call into question the foundation of our profession, feeding the French and Europeans.

Everyone talks about food sovereignty, but when it comes to making it a reality, there is no one left. The European Union stands idly by in the face of imports from third countries. Yet the Covid crisis and the war in Ukraine have shown the importance of European productions.

I see that we have entered a new society, that of the government of radicalized NGOs and environmental associations.
Systematically, these pressure groups attack our orders in the region or at the national level: sea bass, meagre, eel, glass eel, etc. 

Systematically, these pressure groups unscrupulously use all the media strings. Systematically, these small groups with practices at the limit of legality, promote a radical ecology: no reconciliation between human activities and the environment, the environment is everything, the fisherman disappears from the horizon, Man becomes negligible. It is very clear; we simply want to put an end to our profession.

For incidental catches of dolphins, this is obvious. For 5 years, our fishermen have been at the initiative of scientific and technical programs to determine avoidance solutions to reconcile fishing activities and dolphin protection. An Action Plan was imposed on us by the State under the threat of litigation by the European Commission. The Council of State has just called everything into question.

We will also study the possibility of an appeal. The Action Plan needs to be revised and I do not envisage participating with NGOs in the dedicated working group.

The exasperation is at its height with the European Commission pursuing the same idea with its “Action Plan for Resilient Fisheries” or how to promote a black future now for a better future in 10 years but there will be no more fishermen. Banning fishing for bottom gear (dredges, trawls, seines) in   marine protected areas (MPAs) is clearly putting us to death. For auctions and the first purchase, it is to deprive them in 7 years of  a third of the contributions and 40% of their value. And the Commission, in its bureaucratic ivory tower, explains that it will help us to convert our vessels to recreational fishing, tourism and waste collection at sea! Who are we kidding?

It is the same when the European Commission sits on the Fisheries Risk Analyses (ARP or adaptation of fishing practice only to what needs to be protected) that we have been asked to do for years. They would like to make us enraged that we would not do better.

Above all, it is the lack of consideration for our profession, which sustains an entire sector, ports, a local economy, that revolts me.  So many topics demonstrate a disengagement from your services. There will soon be no more public services in the ports. It seems that the state no longer sees a future for our sector.

I believe in it, and I continue to believe in it.

I ask you to give full meaning to our profession and to guarantee the stability and security of companies and their seafarers. We need a break from this avalanche of bad moves.

We hope, Mr. President, to be able to discuss this essential subject with you as soon as possible.

Olivier LE NEZET


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French President told – Bay of Biscay ban will be death of fishermen

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