For several months, fishermen have been mobilizing to voice the difficulties they have in practicing their profession with dignity. Last March in particular, a major demonstration took place in Rennes, and fishing activity was then completely blocked for two days in the ports of Normandy, Brittany, as well as in several other cities on the Atlantic coast.
On this World Ocean Day, Europe Ecology Les Verts wishes to show its solidarity with the fishermen of our coasts, who will be the first victims of the overexploitation of marine ecosystems. Our elected officials are listening to them to find solutions to the crisis that is currently threatening this activity so essential to our food and our coastal economy.
Faced with the collateral effects of Brexit (fleet exit plan which primarily impacts small-scale fishing) and fuel price increases, fishermen are up against the multiple measures aimed at protecting fisheries resources. Where we understand them is that they suffer from the government’s lack of vision to defend small-scale fishing and enable the transition of the fishing sector towards more sustainability.
Fishermen depend on healthy ecosystems and are aware of the need to act to protect the marine environment. But if they are taken without a global vision and without consultation with the fishermen, necessary measures such as the landing obligation, the prohibition of bottom trawling in marine protected areas, or fishing closure periods in the Gulf of Gascogne risk causing real social damage in the fishing sector.
Public policies must be part of a global vision of the territories, adapt to local realities, be thought out over the long term, and be built in a democratic framework that gives power back to the women and men who live in our regions. The fishermen’s blue belt on the island of Houat, the governance of the Iroise Marine Park, the parliaments of the sea in the Hauts de France and in the Mediterranean are experiences to be studied and adapted to build a concerted policy of “care for our maritime countries”.
It is the entire sector that must evolve : the end of speculation on fishing rights and a fairer distribution of quotas, the geography of Marine Protected Areas and the moderation of uses, the decarbonization of the sector, the impact of land-based activities on the marine environment, essential changes fishing techniques and vessels, generational renewal, improving working conditions, the necessary support for change, etc.
The model we defend is the opposite of industrial fishing, it is that of artisanal, responsible and sustainable fishing that provides income to workers and healthy food to the population. It is also the model that will allow the ocean to regenerate and marine ecosystems to be protected. We hear the anger expressed, and call for the dialogue to continue to ensure both the sustainability of the artisanal fishing activity and the protection of the ocean. The two are intrinsically linked.
Aminata Niakaté and Sophie Bussière, spokespersons
The Sea and Coastal Commission of EELV