France’s assessment operation concerning deep-sea fisheries (August 2009-June 2010)

This multipartite consultation (with participants representing five types of players), arose from the Grenelle Seas Summit and was responsible for “ensuring that deep-water fisheries are economically, socially and ecologically viable, in order that their continuation, with adaptations if necessary, might be envisaged.”

The mission, from which the NGOs eventually withdrew their support in July 2010, was intended to provide an objective and rational debate. Instead, it was politically paralyzed and biased. This resulted in a one-sided situation that favored the continuation of deep-sea fisheries, both politically and scientifically (ONGs directly questioned the biased attitude and statements of the mission’s scientific reporter). The mission’s final report (not approved by NGOs, who denounced it as being against the values of the French Republic) deftly understated the impact of deep-sea fisheries, going against unanimous scientific recommendations for internationally negotiated texts (such as UN resolutions).

In terms of both methods and results, the mission’s behavior was “ocean-skeptical”.

BLOOM took a leading role throughout the consultation, in order to limit or neutralize the impacts of the process by:

  • producing a counter-report : Read the report 
  • forcing the mission to have its report reviewed by external researchers (who criticized it harshly for its poor quality)
  • producing a critical analysis of the report’s content and addressing this to France’s Minister of Ecology, Jean-Louis Borloo, on 2 November 2010: read the letter to the Minister of Ecology, November 2010: English version | French version and the annexes to the letter to the Minister of Ecology , September 2010: English version | French version

As a result of this tireless work, the deep-sea fisheries taboo (created and maintained by established lobbies) has been broken.

IFREMER, official supporter of industrial deep-sea fishing in France

Since the Grenelle Seas Summit (see above), Ifremer scientist Alain Biseau has ceased to hide his support in favor of the deep-sea fishing industry. He even signed a document officially supporting deep-sea fishing.êches-profondes.pdf (in French)

Alain Biseau also represents France at the ICES advisory committee. The Advisory Committee is the final body transforming ICES scientific advice into quantitative data…

“The Advisory Committee is the sole competent body for ICES for scientific advice in support of the management of coastal and ocean resources and ecosystems.”

France’s application of UN resolutions

UN resolutions 61/105 (2006) and 64/72 (2009) set out the legal framework for deep-sea fishing on the high seas (international waters). These measures include the obligation to carry out impact studies before fishing activities can begin (paragraph 83, Resolution 61/105).

In September 2011, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) released an evaluation of the applications of UN resolutions by deep-sea fishing nations. The document lists the countries that conducted impact studies prior to fishing (Table 2, page 37). It is thus apparent that France did not submit such a study to the NEAFC (North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission). Conversely, European regulations require no impact study and set out no obligation beyond that of respecting quotas and not fishing in prohibition zones.

DSCC publication, “Unfinished Business”:

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