19 March 2013
Employment: the last joker of the French deep-sea fishing industry
19 March 2013
BLOOM Association published today a new estimate of jobs generated by the deep-sea sector in France, a very small sector since only nine vessels (six belonging to Intermarché) fish 98.5% of French deep-sea species catches.
According to BLOOM’s analysis, 112 seamen in full-time equivalent jobs (FTE) are working on board vessels engaged on various degrees in deep-sea fishing. None of these vessels target exclusively deep-sea species, which themselves represent only a maximum of 40% of the catches of the most involved vessels. Reduced to the pro rata of deep-sea species catches, there are 44 jobs on board directly related to the “deep sea” activity. These 44 to 112 direct jobs represent 0.2 to 0.5% of active French seamen in 2012 1.
Applying a multiplier of 2 to 3.2 (low and high bracket) 2 to estimate induced on-land jobs by jobs at sea, the entire “deep-sea fishing” industry in France consists of a total of 88 to 358 jobs, according to the initial value selected.
The impact of the regulation on deep-sea fishing proposing a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling can be evaluated according to several scenarios:
• If bottom trawlers targeting deep-sea species were converted to another more selective method such as longlining, there would be a zero or a positive impact on employment, because longlines seemingly require a higher workforce per kilo of fish caught than trawls.
• If jobs pro rata to deep-sea species catch disappeared, 88 to 140 jobs would be affected.
• If the boats partially targeting deep-sea species ceased their activities entirely (despite these species representing only 40% of their catch, which means that such a radical scenario need not be envisaged), a total of 224 to 358 jobs would be lost in the entire French fishing sector.
This estimate contradicts the figures put forward by the region of Lorient (600 jobs for the region of Lorient alone) when the proposal for a regulation of the European Commission came out in July. BLOOM was surprised by this very high estimate since a maximum of 200 jobs had been mentioned several times by professionals during the “Deep Sea” mission at the French “Grenelle de la Mer”. Despite our requests, the bases of calculation of this public study were not disclosed to us. The firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers, which performed the study on behalf of the Planning Agency of Lorient (AuDéLor), responded that the bases of calculation were “confidential”. BLOOM analyzed their estimations in detail and identified several problems that invalidate its results.
BLOOM’s own estimation reveals that whatever the multiplier values, deep-sea fishing activities in France are residual with regard to employment in the global fishing sector and the impact of the EU regulation on deep-sea fisheries on this residual activity is minimal or even generates jobs. The vulnerability is to be found in Intermarché’s fleet, Scapêche, who specialized in the capture of deep-sea species (they make up to 85% of French deep-sea species catches) and has therefore become the dominant player in France.
While Intermarché’s fleet, which is characterized by bottom trawling, has committed in recent years to a conversion policy, and the recent acquisition of a pot vessel attests to this, is it meaningful to mobilize MEPs and the French government in order to avoid Intermarché from taking responsibility for their mistakes in their strategic choice? Deep-sea bottom trawling is chronically unprofitable, heavily subsidized, highly fuel consuming and is destroying the most vulnerable marine environments and organisms in the world. It is not the fishery of the future and it will be necessary to bow down to this fact.
1 – 22 049 active French seamen in 2012, according to key figures from the fishing sector in 2012
2 – These multipliers are equivalent to values from 3 to 4.2 depending on the method used by the study of the Planning Agency of Lorient.