IFREMER: the official alibi of deep-sea fishing industrial lobbies

chalutier © pierre gleizes

With an infamous political position paper, scientifically unfounded, the Ifremer has become the official alibi of lobbies and is at the center of the debate between industrial fishermen, Minister cabinets and NGOs.
It is distressing for the many excellent IFREMER researchers, whose work is marred by a dark politico-industrial – and supposedly – scientific affair.
Brittany MEP Isabelle Thomas pulled a so-called “news report” by the Ifremer to justify her outrageous statements about “sustainable” deep-sea bottom trawl fisheries. This political paper has no official status, it is scientifically unfounded and worth no more than any blog on the Web. By allowing such statements to be made on its Website, the Ifremer has accepted to become the official alibi of the industry. It remains to be seen whether the Ifremer’s new director François Jacq will challenge this non-paper.


So what is in this document for it to be so frequently put forward by the industrial fishing lobbies and their political supporters? See the advocacy of the Ifremer for bottom trawling.

This document does not represent the current state of knowledge or opinion of researchers from the Ifremer on deep-sea trawling. However, there are a number of perfectly false statements from a scientific point of view which would not stand a chance to survive peer-reviewing by a scientific journal. Note also that the IFREMER was careful not to translate this compromising document, but BLOOM did.
See BLOOM’s translation.
This paper therefore has no other purpose than to meet the political needs of Frédéric Cuvillier’s office and the elected officials of Brittany sitting in the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament (Alain Cadec – EPP and Isabelle Thomas – S&D): these few individuals work together to derail, since the beginning, the regulation which has the task of protecting the world’s most vulnerable marine ecosystems. But with no scientific ammunition, the task is not easy. This is what this illegitimate document from the Ifremer sought to overcome. But as pro-industrial fishing “ifremerians” would not pass the gauntlet of anonymous peer reviews, they opted for the only possible solution: a web article in French only, without proof-reading or even official approval by the Ifremer.
The scientifically incorrect statements that are held were nabbed by the journal “Nature” in an editorial that namely calls into question the Ifremer and the infamous political role science plays in France on this matter. See the article.
This is reminiscent of another French context of creating false controversies over climate…



“The sustainability of stocks exploitation (grenadier , blue ling and black scabbardfish) is now established” => FALSE.
Nowhere is there any mention of “sustainability” for deep-water species. Instead, whenever the monospecific sustainability is considered for one or two species of deep-sea fish, it is immediately balanced against the non-sustainable exploitation from an ecosystem perspective (either bycatch species or marine habitats).
“The observations showed that the discards are largely dominated by two species: the Baird’s slickhead and Greater argentine, to which one must sometimes add Rabbit fish, for which scientists do not express concerns.” => FALSE.
An editorial in Nature shows instead that Baird’s slickhead fell to only 6% of its abundance in 2002, making it eligible for an endangered species status according to the criteria of the IUCN Red List. See the article.
And this is not all:
“The knowledge of deep-sea fish and ecosystems is increasing rapidly. The areas of distribution, the longevity and growth of exploited deep-sea fish are now well known.”
“The deep-sea ecosystems have been studied and mapped, allowing to identify the most vulnerable areas and protect them.”
And other exquisite statements…
BLOOM has done a thousand times the decoding of these assumed and very regrettable lies.

It will be interesting to see how the new President of the Ifremer, François Jacq, will positione himself in relation to the lackluster file for French research. Will he breach with his predecessor Jean -Yves Perrot or renew the complacency towards the Ministers offices?

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