A French President should not stoop so low

28 November could well be the date chosen by future school textbooks as the moment when all was lost for the protection of the ocean.

Yesterday, at the Assises de l’économie de la mer conference in Nantes, France, President Emmanuel Macron delivered an hour-and-a-quarter-long speech to representatives of the industrial fishing sector, who could hardly contain their elated delight at the flood of good news coming from the French Head of State. In addition to guaranteeing his unwavering support for a destructive and climate wrecking fishing model, the President promised industrial fishing lobbies an absolutely colossal financial windfall from the tax on offshore wind farms, while repeating their speeches on ecological transition word for word. This was the very rhetoric they had been trying, in vain until now, to impose on the public debate, in order to limit the sector’s transition to the sole issue of the carbon footprint of fishing activities and the need to equip large nets that ravage biodiversity and marine habitats with hydrogen engines, in order to be rid of the “ecology” issue.

Emmanuel Macron had nothing to say about biodiversity and marine ecosystems, with not a word aboutFrance finally aligning itself with scientific recommendations on Marine Protected Areas, nor a single word on ending trawling and defending artisanal fishing. In the evening, his Secretary of State for the Sea, Hervé Berville, rounded off the government’s communication strategy by blatantly lying to the French people during the program “Super pouvoirs de l’océan” (English: “Super Powers of the Ocean”) presented by Léa Salamé and Hugo Clément on France 2, which BLOOM immediately fact-checked.

By asserting himself as the “super-destroyer of the ocean”, Emmanuel Macron is fulfilling the dream of industrial shipowners and defenders of the most destructive fishing methods, such as bottom trawling, but promising to ruin ecosystems, biodiversity, small-scale fishing and the climate. It also shows his contempt for scientific knowledge, the recommendations of intergovernmental panels of experts on the climate and biodiversity (IPCC and IPBES) and the European regulatory framework.

The entire BLOOM team is appalled to see a French President sink so low.


At a time when the French National Commission for Public Debate has just launched a major national debate on our relationship with the ocean, Emmanuel Macron has delivered his vision of things to come: massive investment to fuel growth and employment around the development of major offshore wind farm projects and industrial ports, and a financial windfall for industrial fishing to convert to hydrogen-powered engines and continue its methodical destruction of European waters.

There is no mention of biodiversity and the need for France to implement international scientific recommendations or to respect European law on Marine Protected Areas with the priority to be given to small-scale fishing in the allocation of fishing quotas and public subsidies, despite the framework set by the Common Fisheries Policy.


Mr. Macron also announced the payment of 700 million euros to fisheries committees by 2035 via the offshore wind tax. A “good move”, in his own words, given that the money has already begun to fall into the committees’ pockets, with no indication at this stage of how it will be used, or any guarantee of transparency. In an astonishing move, Emmanuel Macron directly questioned the president of the Pays de la Loire regional fisheries committee, José Jouneau, about the “million and a half” he has already received.

“The offshore wind farm will enable us to finance 700 million euros for the fishing industry […] And I think that Mr Jouneau, who was also with us from the regional fisheries committee in Saint Nazaire a few months ago now… must have received his million and a half already. So it’s a good start… I said that before I said 700 million… The first ones are here. President Le Nézet can tell you. So it wasn’t just promises. The money is rolling in. Thanks to offshore wind power. So it’s a good move.”

The development of offshore wind farms will thus enable us to pour huge sums of money into the industrial fishing sector, whose only response to the crucial challenge of combating the collapse of biodiversity and habitats is to install hydrogen-powered engines on board vessels that retain all their destructive properties.


Only within the bubble of industrial fishing, hermetically sealed from the alarming scientific findings on the deteriorating health of the ocean, does a hydrogen-powered trawler suddenly become environmentally acceptable. The industry’s transition involves, but is not limited to, decarbonization. In any case, the industrial fishing lobbies have seized upon this opportunity to renew their repeated demands for fleet renewal. In fact, they are hoping to overturn European rules on aid for vessel construction and restrictions on increasing the capacity of fishing vessels. The decarbonization of the sector has become the Trojan horse used by industrialists to perpetuate a model that has led to the ruin of marine ecosystems and jobs. Instead of putting an end to this socially and ecologically bankrupt model, France has decided to export it. Lorient, France’s leading industrial port, is now looking to Oman and the Arabian Sea to reproduce its destructive enterprise by investing millions in the development of a new industrial fishing port. This will enable Lorient to import the fruits of its raid on these unspoiled waters… by plane!

Industrial players and Emmanuel Macron are no strangers to inconsistency. For the country scheduled to host the 3rd United Nations Ocean Conference in 2025, the agenda is clear: it promises to be a summit of shame.

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