The European Commission proposes the phase out of deep-sea bottom trawling. BLOOM would dedicate the year 2013 to compiling the most rational data on the subject, bringing clarity to the policy debate, rallying support and convincing MEPs of the ecological emergency.
BLOOM launches two studies to stop the backlash done by the lobbies of industrial fishing on the socio-economic impact of deep-sea fishing: a study on the accounts of the Scapêche, major deep-sea fleet in France and an estimate of direct and indirect employment generated by the sector.
On February 19, the NGO participates in a hearing on deep-sea fisheries at the European Parliament, which leads to a heated debate between MEPs.
At the European Parliament, on March 20, the Environment Committee – drafting an opinion report – votes with 58 votes against 1 the end of deep-sea bottom trawling.
The next day, the coordinators of the Fisheries Committee – drafting the report to be voted in plenary session – makes the decision behind closed doors to push back the agenda of the regulation, with the ulterior purpose to shut down the progress of the regulation.
The NGO wins over supports on all sides with a call to François Hollande published in the newspaper Le Monde, co- signed by 14 major political figures. At the same time, BLOOM and the NGO coalition Deep Sea Conservation Coalition gather the signatures of more than 300 international researchers who call for the end of destructive deep-sea fishing practices.
This is the moment chosen by BLOOM to start a petition to François Hollande, which will become big…
BLOOM sneaks in the Environmental Conference, which concludes with a speech by the Prime Minister: “I am in favor of France actively participating in EU discussions to better understand and manage deep-sea fishing.” Meanwhile, deep-sea fishing gets stuck in the European Parliament with pressures to kill the regulation.
BLOOM delivers a new media stunt: more than 50 celebrities give their support to BLOOM and two giant posters at the train station Gare du Nord call out to MEPs and other travelers bound for Brussels.
The cartoonist Pénélope Bagieu publishes a savoury comic strip on her blog denouncing the scandal of deep-sea bottom trawling. A viral tsunami sweeps the Internet: the comic now has more than 300,000 shares on social networks. BLOOM’s petition, which gathered 26,000 signatures in a few months, gains 100,000 signatures per day and rises to more than 840 000 signatures, making it the most signed environmental petition in the History of France.
In a few weeks, more than 400 articles, radio and television talk about deep-sea bottom trawling and the vote at the European Parliament. The controversy created from scratch by industrial lobbies soon finds an echo among journalists who discover the issue. The controversy finally withers at the hearing at the French National Assembly (BLOOM gives a speech), when the research center Ifremer disavows a document published on its website, the only one to talk about “sustainable” deep-sea fishing and contradicting all scientific studies alarming on the threats to biodiversity made by deep-sea bottom trawling.
The retailer Casino stops selling deepwater species. It is followed by Carrefour on the eve of the vote in the European Parliament, then the City of Paris and finally Auchan, which suspends selling until the European final decision.
The European Parliament, in plenary session, vots the deep-fishing regulation. MEPs vote in favor of the compromise amendment that removes the ban on bottom trawling with 342 votes against 326. But the real surprise comes with the results MEP by MEP. Some voted for the amendment while they had publicly spoken against deep-sea bottom trawling. As foolish as it may seem, they were mistaken and thought to vote for a “harmless” amendment, while it made the ban of bottom trawling “fall”, therefore they could not vote on it. The vote is corrected: 343 against 330. This is a win … that will only count for the archives.
The retailer Intermarché, suffering a crisis of e-reputation due to Pénélope Bagieu’s comic, reaches out to NGOs, leading to negotiations between NGOs and the group.
Intermarché proposes a compromise: to raise the nets of its fleet from 1,500 meters to 800 meters deep starting from 2015. This commitment is not the victory of our campain but a significant step forward.
While France is still blocking the regulation at the Council of European Ministers, initiatives and changes are to be found among private players, who have, themselves, met the expectations of French citizens.