Newlyn Fish Market - boats due to land.

Saturday, 28 August 2021

The future of coastal strip management and protection tools in Brittany


Marine Protected Area Brittany Integrated coastal strip management Littoral ENGO Artisanal fishing Recommend | Facebookprintertwitter Protect 30% of French territory, both land and sea, and place 10% in strong protection, these are the promises of the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron at the One Planet Summit on January 11, 2021 (MOUTERDE & VALO, 2021). Marine protected areas (MPAs) are at the heart of the news, as Marseille will host the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in September 2021.

Marine protected areas can be defined as maritime spaces delimited for the purpose of long-term environmental protection, according to the 1996 World Conservation Congress in Montreal (PETIT, 2019). The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) resulting from the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 sets the objective of establishing a network of MPAs throughout the world, by 2022. It is within this framework that IUCN is promoting the creation of marine protected areas on the international scene. However, there is a multitude of MPAs with very different statuses and levels of protection. If the MPA process has already started, the question of the level of protection and the involvement of local actors currently represent major issues. Faced with anthropogenic pressures on the marine environment,

The Fisheries and Development Collective thus looked into the future of management and protection tools in Brittany in the light of existing pressures. This study was carried out as part of a three-month internship and focuses on four Breton cases: the Iroise Marine Natural Park (PNMI), the cantonment of the Ile de Sein, the Natura 2000 site (N2000) des Roches de Penmarc'h and the Sea Development Plan (SMVM) of the Gulf of Morbihan. The study focuses only on the coastal strip, therefore not exceeding the limit of 12 nautical miles from the coast, an area in which small-scale fishing and coastal fishing takes place. 19 interviews and 2 embarkations were carried out in order to collect different points of view: fishermen, fishermen's representatives,

A controversial national strategy for protected areas

2021 marks the year of the release of the new national strategy for protected areas for the next decade. For the first time, this constitutes a global strategy for both marine and terrestrial space; this can be a first step to put an end to the land-sea divide provided that it is not only a question of projecting land policies on the sea. This strategy also materializes Emmanuel Macron's announcement which consists in protecting 30% of the French EEZ with a third in strong protection. On this point, all the people questioned were unanimous: the quantified objectives do not necessarily correspond to the reality on the ground and are above all akin to a political display. What interest if they are not achieved? Why 30%, why not 40% or 50%? The actors are questioning the scientific basis of these objectives and the implementation of such a strategy. If this results in the establishment of MPAs mainly in the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF), the effectiveness of this strategy would be very limited.

It should also be remembered that these 30% objectives are part of a top-down approach. In her book “Green growth against nature”, Hélène Tordjman highlights the “institutional proliferation” that characterizes international governance for the protection of nature. Among this multitude of actors, environmental NGOs have assumed a particularly important weight, having the capacity to exert pressure on States and international institutions, and thus participate in the development of what the author calls “soft law”. or soft law. She questions the validity of these standards: "The political legitimacy of such a law is problematic, insofar as the great majority of these actors are not elected" (TORDJMAN, 2021, p.177). Among these ENGOs, IUCN plays a major role. In particular, it has given impetus to the creation of marine protected areas at the international level via the Convention on Biological Diversity. The IUCN also considers the objective of 10% in strong protection insufficient, and asks to classify 30% of the world ocean in a no-take zone by 2030.

These announcements inevitably raise questions and concerns for the fishing industry since while a marine protected area does not necessarily exclude this activity, the purpose of a strong protection zone is to exclude human activities. Interviews reveal that fishing is too often the "adjustment variable", perhaps because it is one of the most visible activities on the water and because it is easier to act on a few. fishermen than to tackle problems with sometimes bigger political and economic stakes.

Four Breton examples for a diverse panel

The Iroise Marine Natural Park, a rather positive assessment

The actors questioned seem rather satisfied with the PNMI, set up in 2007 after 17 years of negotiations. The local actors were indeed opposed to it at the beginning, considering it as a “loss of freedom”. Quickly, the fishermen's representatives finally got involved in the discussions to avoid the empty chair policy when they understood that the park was going to be done with or without them. This tool works rather well today, with 4 of the 10 management objectives which concern fishing. Above all, the Management Board is an inclusive governance body, where we find all the players around the table. A criticism was however raised: the representatives of the fishermen are present but there is a lack of people on the ground to interact with the fishermen directly. Ultimately,

The management board also has a tool presented during the interviews as innovative and which gives it power: the assent. It makes it possible to act on land-based projects that could impact the marine environment, such as pigsty extensions. The effectiveness of this tool remains to be qualified, however, since it can only be applied under certain conditions (size, budget, etc.). For example, for a pigsty extension, an assent from the park is mandatory only from a certain size. These limitations also leave a door open for the installation of marine wind farms.

The cantonment of the island of Sein, a tool for fishermen

The cantonment of the Ile de Sein was set up by the fishermen following the degradation of the red lobster stock. It is located within the PNMI, which allows collaboration between the representatives of the fishermen, the fishermen themselves, the park team belonging to the French Biodiversity Office (OFB) and scientists from Ifremer. . This makes it possible to have funding and to ensure a follow-up to see if this zone is effective.

The first results are encouraging, with an increasingly abundant lobster population and especially the presence of juveniles, which was no longer the case before. However, the effectiveness of this area remains to be qualified since the lobster stock is doing better on the entire Atlantic coast. This improvement is therefore necessarily linked to more global phenomena.

This cantonment is a starting point for developing a larger-scale lobster management plan and for taking measures such as increasing the catch size to 110mm, closing fishing from January to March or banning fishing. fish grained females all year round. The next step is to standardize the size of the catch with Spain and Portugal in particular.


The Fisheries Committee, operator of the Roches de Penmarc'h Natura 2000 site

The N2000 site of Roches de Penmarc'h is special since the regional fisheries committee is the operator and facilitator, in particular thanks to the local committee of Guilvinec at the time and the regional committee who fought to be part of the N2000 network. Being at the heart of decisions was essential for fishermen since fishing activity is very important in Brittany and around 50% of Breton territorial waters are classified in N2000.

However, this tool is criticized for its usefulness, whether by associations for the protection of nature and the environment (APNE) or by representatives of fishermen, because it lacks financial and human resources. Strictly speaking, it is not a management tool and its framework is imposed by Europe. Governance is therefore not carried out by local actors and decision-making capacity has nothing to do with the PNMI.

Fishing risk analysis is now mandatory in order to assess the risk of habitat degradation by fishing gear. However, the environmental associations questioned were not satisfied with this system. Finally, the perimeters of the N2000 zones do not necessarily make sense from an ecological point of view and it is currently very complicated to change them.

The Gulf of Morbihan SMVM, a shutdown device

The SMVM is intended to be a land use planning tool for integrated management of the coastal zone. The first on the Gulf of Morbihan dates from 2006, while a second was created in 2020. The objective is to regulate the multiple uses existing on the Gulf of Morbihan and to provide a global approach. Its implementation was conflictual since it came from the State and thus calls into question the actions of local elected officials. However, the SMVM offered an interesting space for consultation, bringing together all the local players.

However, the SMVM does not have any means of action on land, beyond the 100-meter band, while water quality is an extremely important issue in the Gulf of Morbihan; this reinforces the land-sea divide.

It should also be noted that this is not a tool for nature protection according to environmental associations. Above all, the SMVM is now at a standstill and appears overwhelmed by other existing tools, in particular the Morbihan Regional Natural Park, defined during the interviews as a tool for promoting tourism. Added to this are SCoT, SAGE, PLU and PLUi, etc. This highlights a plethora of tools with acronyms that are difficult to read and raises questions about the necessary simplification of the tools.

For a global and democratic approach to the coast This study finally highlights the need to have a global and democratic approach to the coastline, through a few lines of thought.

Between “above-ground” ENGOs and territorialized APNEs

If there is pressure from environmental NGOs, it is necessary to differentiate between territorialized nature protection associations and “above-ground” ENGOs. In Brittany, associations such as Bretagne Vivante and Eaux et Rivières operate in the region. Their objective is not to marginalize fishing and the interviews show a desire for collaboration between these associations and the representatives of the fishermen. The two parties also recognize that they have a common objective since the fisherman is dependent on the good quality of the environment. Conversely, the dialogue is completely cut off with NGOs like Sea Sheperd.

The positions also differ depending on whether these associations are territorialized or above ground. Stakeholders interviewed spoke of a different degree of activism as well as a sometimes simplistic approach to fishing, in the sense that Sea Sheperd would not differentiate between different types of fishing well in the eyes of the general public. Above all, these big ENGOs have significant financial and media resources.

ENGOs currently support two main subjects: the prohibition of dragging arts in marine protected areas, in particular bottom trawling, and the fight against accidental catches of marine mammals. The Finistère fisheries committee considers this last point as a turning point that will be decisive for the sector.

The challenge for fishermen is therefore to keep control of the management of their activity, which does not prevent collaborations with other organizations or scientists, for example. They defend a bottom-up approach to this management involving local actors.

A third way, between “paper” devices and exclusion

Finding a third way would consist in finding a happy medium between doing nothing in paper MPAs and the total exclusion of human activities. In the first place, the management board of the Iroise marine park can appear as a model of governance. Even if it is imperfect, it is the most successful tool and it involves local actors by giving them real decision-making power. This could, for example, inspire a review of the Natura 2000 decision-making framework in order to provide the means that correspond to the ambitions.

Ensuite, l’idée d’une ceinture bleue bretonne, c’est-à-dire d’une aire marine protégée tout autour de la Bretagne, a été proposée en entretien. Les avis sont très partagés sur la question. Cela permettrait en effet d’éviter le mitage actuel des zones de protection et d’avoir une vision globale de la défense de la bande côtière pour répondre à la fluidité du milieu. Cependant, l’existence d’une zone comme le PNMI, suffisamment grande mais dans un périmètre tout de même restreint, permet d’avoir un site laboratoire pour tester des mesures et les exporter uniquement si ça fonctionne. Les entretiens soulèvent surtout la question des moyens financiers et humains, des réglementations et de la gouvernance.

Finding a third way cannot ultimately be done without having adaptive and participatory tools. Adaptive from a spatial point of view because the sea is a fluid environment and from a temporal point of view because the environment evolves over time. Participatory to guarantee decision-making power to local actors and real involvement. For example, fishermen have tools that work. Involving local actors also means guaranteeing better adherence and therefore better compliance with the rules for a more efficient marine protected area.

Issues beyond the perimeters of MPAs

Many issues now go well beyond the perimeter of marine protected areas. It is therefore fundamental to have a comprehensive land-sea approach. Water quality is a land and maritime matter since most of the pollution found in the sea comes from upstream watersheds, and current tools do not allow correct action on this. In this regard, plankton is representative of the need for a global approach since it is an indicator of water quality. It is very sensitive to the inputs of nutrients which come from the earth and completely modify the planktonic balance. This is not without consequences since plankton are found at the base of the trophic chain. Unfortunately, plankton is not in the media unlike dolphins.

The question that ultimately arises for the future of professional fishing is that of space. The uses of the sea are multiplying and many activities are developing there, be it tourism, renewable marine energies, aggregate extraction, aquaculture, etc. In addition, there are marine protected areas and strong protection zones, defended by ENGOs. In the words of Julien Dubreuil, of the Brittany Regional Fisheries Committee, we have gone from a resource war to a “space war”.