Monday, 25 May 2020

French artisanal fishermen want the same as Looe fishermen - a licence to fish for bue-fin tuna.

Translated by Google from an article on the Small French artisanal fishing platform website:

Franck Romagosa is a fisherman with small trades in Saint Cyprien , on the PETIT DAMIEN, a speedboat of 9 meters. Franck has been fighting for 7 years to obtain a bluefin tuna AEP (European Fishing Authorization). Franck does not ask for the moon: according to him, one tonne of quota per year for small trades would be sufficient: “One tonne per year means that you can fish on average 1 tuna per week . With one tuna per week, sold locally, you can generate € 35,000 per year, which will allow you to employ a sailor and therefore generate local employment. In addition, by fishing bluefin tuna, you reduce the pressure on other fish species ”

Despite his fight, Franck has still not obtained a bluefin tuna AEP. The issuance of new DWS is limited to a few dozen per year for several hundred requests . The candidates are handpicked ... Thus, the criteria of the size of his boat, the first installation or the age of the captain are all priority conditions for obtaining the precious sesame. One year before retirement, needless to say that Franck is rather poorly classified to be a winner ... He denounces an award system which is not transparent, even discriminating against the oldest fishermen: “In fact, as I am close to retirement, they do not want to give me EAF, while some who are already retired keep their EAF. It is a fairly opaque system and the best way to have quota ... is the piston!" The union of fishermen small trades of Occitanie (SPMO) of which it is a member wishes to review the criteria of delivery of the AEP in order to give a chance to the oldest who renew their requests each year for sometimes more than 10 years… without success. The SPMO also denounces the hijackings of the system which allow the same shipowner to hold several EPAs under the names of different companies and entrusted to young priority managers.

Other fishermen with small trades also point out the aberrations of the system: "The bluefin tuna caught by purse seiners with the French quota will never arrive on the French market: everything is sold in Japan!" And before that the tuna are fattened in cages in the south of Spain, with blue fish caught by giant trawlers off the African coast or the North Sea. During this time the French consumer eats tropical tuna which we will loot off the Seychelles . It is a series of injustices for local artisanal fishermen" The bluefin tuna industry, which represents a considerable economic windfall for around twenty vessels, contributes absolutely nothing to the local economy, apart from a few seafaring jobs a month a year, during the fishing season!!

However, as all artisanal fishermen say, bluefin tuna would be a real gift for the local economy : "A bluefin tuna sold in slices at the stall or in short circuits , it allowed people to know about a magnificent product, revitalise many businesses, and that would save some struggling fishing businesses. ”Tuna is found everywhere, closer to the coast, in concentrations never seen before. It is there, there is only to bend down to fish it , but it is prohibited for Franck and for the great majority of small trades, lack of AEP in sufficient number and too high a concentration of quotas.

“We would fish tunas one by one, with rod , by releasing those which are too small, and by preserving the resource. But instead we prefer to fatten billionaires by giving them thousands of tonnes of quota”. Indeed, for several years, the owners of industrial tuna vessels which already hold 90% of the French quota, in particular by having pre-empted the quotas allocated to the small trades segment , have been offered hundreds of additional tonnes "thanks" to the prior art system catch: those who fished the most in reference years are those who obtain the most quota, an inequitable distribution system, which gives the premium to manufacturers at the expense of artisanal fishermen.

Franck can't help but be nostalgic for the time when he fished bluefin tuna with his father, "at a time when the tuna was not fattened in cages but landed on the quay, and where the local economy benefited of this gift given by the sea”. Times have changed, but fighting the injustices done to artisanal fishermen remains a priority and the fight of small trades for bluefin tuna is not yet over…