Unprecedented poll: 98% of fishers against an industrial fishing technique supported by the French Government

In view of the “trilogue” negotiations that will start on September 15, 2022, in Brussels, between the three European institutions (Parliament, Commission, Council) to ban “demersal seining” (also called flyshooting), a devastating fishing technique invented by Dutch industrial lobbies, the fishers from Normandy and northern France who are affected by direct competition with these anti-ecological fishing methods have expressed their views in a poll organised by the Normandy Regional Fisheries Committee (CRPMEM) and the Normandy Fishers’s Organization (OPN).

Two hundred and five fishers took part in the survey, the result is crystal clear: 98% of the fishers surveyed answered “yes” to the question “Are you in favour of banning demersal seining within 12 miles for all fishing vessels?”.[1]

Half of the French fishers who practice demersal seining themselves do not hesitate to ask for a ban on the method in which they have invested, because it is so devastating for marine ecosystems, fish populations and the economic balance of the territories. [2]

Learn more about demersal seining

In this context, the France should unequivocally defend its in-shore fishers and their artisanal jobs, which have been weakened by decades of brutal and unfair competition with industrial fishing lobbies, especially – but not only – of foreign origin.  But in contrast, France is abandoning its fishers to the benefit of these foreign industrial lobbies.

The demersal seining is the final death blow of Dutch industrial lobbies against the French coastal fishing of Hauts-de-France and Normandy, already badly affected by Dutch vessels that proudly claim to have invented “technological fisheries” but which in reality accelerate the collapse of the climate, marine animals and fishers.  Fishers in the North have already had to fight against Dutch industrial lobbies when they practiced electric fishing, which hastened the closure of the Dunkirk auction and ruined French small-scale fishers.

On 12 July 2022, the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries voted to ban demersal seining in Normandy and Hauts-de-France territorial waters for Dutch and Belgian vessels (via the revision of Article 5 of the Common Fisheries Policy).” MEP Pierre Karleskind (Renaissance) obtained the mandate to go directly to negotiate in “trilogue” a common position with the European Commission and the Council of the European Union (the Member States) without going through the vote in plenary.

As rapporteur for the text, he is responsible, with France, for ensuring that the Parliament’s position is respected and maintained in the trilogue that will ratify the discussion.

But what is actually happening in Brussels?

France does not even try to defend its fishers.

The Member States want a status quo, i.e. to maintain the destructive industrial fishing following the position and interests of the Netherlands, despite the ecological arguments proving that such an efficient gear is incompatible with the vulnerability of the coastal strip, despite the demands of French coastal fishers and their distress, despite the climate emergency.

Far from the public and media scrutiny, France is playing a murky role in Brussels for the future of the Hauts-de-France and Normandy regions.

Banning demersal seining is a matter of economic survival for inshore fishers.  First deployed in the North Sea, Dutch seine vessels fell back on the East Manche in the face of the rapid decline of the resource, before melting on the resources of the Western Channel as mobile predators. Coastal fishers, who are much less mobile, are watching, helplessly and helplessly, the ecologicaland social disaster underway, in a scenario identical in all respects to that of electric fishing.  Years of alerts and reports to the authorities remained unanswered.

No rational argument can be invoked by France to leave such an effective fishing technique in such a fragile area on which coastal fishers depend.

The outcome of the trilogue depends solely on the determination of the French Government to defend the ban on demersal seine fishing.  In the absence of a ban, France will condemn its own fishers to ruin, forgetting that when the race for technological performance has emptied our seas, collective bankruptcy will be the answer to the war we are waging on fish.

BLOOM has launched a petition this September 14, 2022 to urge President Macron to defend the ban on demersal seining during the trilogue (in French only): https://interdiction-senne.bloomassociation.org/


[1] 205 respondents representant 36% of 568 ships bordering the Eastern Channel (from Cherbourg to Dunkirk).

[2] Six Respondents out of 205 practice demersal seines. Three out of six are in favour of banning it.

To go further

Several regions in France have banned this gear in their territorial waters. It is the case for Aquitaine, Brittany and part of Normandy. In this sense, a French National Assembly report recommends “regulating uniformly at the national level vessels’ access to the twelve-mile band by prohibiting in this zone the use of certain particularly effective fishing gear, such as the demersal seine” [translated from French].

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