25 March 2014
More than 20,000 outraged French citizens email François Hollande
25 March 2014
Paris, 25 March 2014
Since March 20th, close to 21,000 indignant French citizens have sent the President of the French Republic an e-mail asking him to support a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling in Europe. The public action orchestrated by BLOOM calls on François Hollande to live up to the commitments he made at Rio+20 in 2012 to “eliminate destructive fishing practices.”
Hollande’s government held an “Environmental Conference” in September 2013 during which it agreed that the views of environmental NGOs and citizens would be taken into account in forming the French position on the deep-sea regulation. But the position that France sent on March 12th to the Presidency of the European Council of Ministers takes no account of NGOs’ policy asks nor of the will of more than 838,000 signatories to BLOOM’s petition and 73% of French people surveyed. On the contrary, France continues to oppose the European Commission’s proposal to ban deep-sea bottom trawling in Europe!
“French people feel betrayed” explains Claire Nouvian, founder of BLOOM. “They realize there is no such thing as ‘democratic consultation’ in France. In fact, politics are done in the old-style: opaque and without taking citizens into account. Since France seems more like a monarchy, without checks and balances, we call on the Head of State to personally arbitrate on the issue of prohibiting deep-sea bottom trawling. François Hollande promised the French ‘environmental excellence’, he needs to be true to his word.”
The text of the e-mails reminds the President that citizen mobilization (BLOOM’s petition is the most signed environmental petition in French history) encouraged several retailers to stop selling deep-sea fish and the Intermarché fleet to stop deep-sea bottom trawling beyond 800 meters deep. The message sent to François Hollande asks him: “If France is unable to terminate a residual, destructive, subsidized and unprofitable practice, what other environmental issues would you still have the credibility to solve?”
How does one explain France’s blocking if the most affected industrial French fleets were able to find common ground with NGOs? “The answer is to be sought in the industrial port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, where a ship belonging to the Euronor fleet still catches deep-sea fish (approximately 25 % of its catch). Yet Boulogne-sur-Mer is the electoral stronghold of the fisheries Minister, Frédéric Cuvillier, who is struggling with a blatant conflict of interest in his function and thus fails to protect the interests of French and European people in favor of a single fishing vessel” concludes Claire Nouvian.
Due to pressure from France the discussions in the Council of European Fisheries Ministers have been dragging and often stalling since the European Commission released its legislative proposal in July 2012.
 The February 2014 BVA/BLOOM poll revealed that 73% of the French wanted François Hollande to support the European proposal to ban deep-sea bottom trawling. This represents a 2%-increase since the same survey was conducted in November 2013.
 Casino announced on December 2, 2013 that they would not sell deep-sea species from January 2015 onwards. Carrefour announced on December 9, 2013 a similar measure, effective in June 2014. On December 20, 2013 Auchan announced immediate suspension of sales of deep-sea species. Système U is actively engaged in reducing sales of deep-sea species.