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Saturday, 28 March 2015

What future for Bigouden's artisanal fishermen?

This is an extract from review of a book called 'Red Hats and Breton Caps' written by Charles Menzies. It looks at investigating a desire to move towards an artisanal model fishery rather than capitalist - something that might find some sympathy and empathy here in the South West. The term 'artisanal worker' does not have an equivalent here in English - in France it is a recognition of more than just skilled in the art of making or producing - artisanal workers have equal status to those in professions like medicine and education - more so where they are key to the identity of a community

"Charles Menzies, the artisanal model is far from being condemned, it is contrary to the operating mode of capitalism today that subcontracts increasingly random production activities to small units and decentralizes. For him, the resistance movement and 1993-94 revolt, is in a conservative logic of the status quo against a state (EU) increasingly restrictive and liberal, opening the European market to the winds. They want to preserve an artisanal system that seems archaic to Brussels officials and even some local politicians like former MP Ambroise Guellec. 
The Bigoudens engaged in a battle at European and even international level to preserve their way of life. If they contest the opening to fish around the world, they also know that resistance requires openness to other artisanal fishermen worldwide. Thus they were able to accommodate in October 2000 in Loctudy, the Constituent Assembly of the World Forum of artisanal fishers. They also seek answers to resource management problems, trawl selectivity, biodiversity protection. They promoted and supported the creation of a marine park and engaged in the steps Natura 2000 in their fishing grounds. The battle is far from won. It will be lost if ITQs lead concentration, the collapse of the collective dynamics of resistance to an individualistic struggle for survival and accumulation of fishing rights. There are many other challenges and analysis of Charles Menzies draws attention to some. The first concerns the renewal of men as bosses sailors. The patterns come from a small community. The demographic decline as the attractiveness of other jobs reduce the pond. Added to the uncertainty related to the constraints of European policy that does more than this scale fishing, even though it boasts of defending the little fishing.
It is necessary to attract new patrons from other areas; it is also necessary to attract and retain sailors. Revenues remain attractive, but they are no longer sufficient to offset the difficult working conditions, especially because of the difficult to reconcile work rhythm with normal family life. This is all the more difficult to accept that women seek their autonomy access to employment and their income can compensate for the instability and insecurity of fishing income. It will probably why design a new organization of work. 
A new phenomenon, as the severity of job opportunities in other sectors, can bring back to fishing many young people. The phenomenon is noticeable in agriculture and maritime schools that recruit new. These newcomers, not always from fishermen media can bring new blood and new visions of fishing. Charles Menzies does not directly mention a more recent problem, the cost of energy. This is an important challenge for a fleet-based trawl tradition, but it is a challenge to the whole economy and society: how to get out of a carbon economy in the medium term?
Charles Menzies offers bigoudens fishermen, even as they lose their autonomy Local Committee, a gift, full of empathy, rigorous and uncompromising. It primarily conveys a message of hope: there is a future for artisanal fishing. It would really be necessary to translate the book that will be helpful to fishermen and bigoudènes families but to all decision makers and NGOs who want to think instead of fishermen without really understanding the foundations of their social and economic system and make a simplistic idea artisanal fisheries."
The full report is here: