Saturday, 27 October 2018

French fishing report - which is their bluest fishery?

It is at times like this, when the UK finds itself with a new Fisheries Bill setting out the terms for the future of the industry in a post-Brexit world that many UK fishermen would dearly love to have an organisation representing them with the depth and scale of the French CNPMEM - their National Committee for Marine Fisheries and Marine Livestock. Membership is compulsory for every organisation and operator in the French industry,

The National Committee for Marine Fisheries and Marine Livestock (CNPMEM) is a professional body governed by private law with public service missions. 
Bringing together all the professions of the fishing and marine farming sector, it represents and ensures the defense of the general interests of the fishermen with the national and Community public authorities. It participates in the management of fisheries resources in the framework of responsible fishing and sustainable development. 
Thus, the CNPMEM is consulted on regulatory measures for the management of fish resources (fish, shellfish, marine plants) or adopts its own regulations to regulate certain fisheries. These decisions are then binding on all the professionals concerned.
It also participates in the implementation of public policies for the protection and enhancement of the environment and the implementation of economic and social actions for the benefit of its members. 
It collaborates with studies and programs aimed at improving maritime safety and scientific programs that provide better knowledge of marine environments and species or improve fishing techniques (increase the selectivity of gear by, for example, changing mesh size on the nets or by providing "exit doors" for non-target species ...).
The CNPMEM is the national level of the professional organization of fisheries and marine farms which also includes regional (12) and departmental or interdepartmental (13) committees located along the metropolitan coast and domains. The committees are all autonomous and independent.

They have just helped fund a report into the environmental impact (within the Blue Economy) that the fishing industry has across a wide range of fisheries.

After two and a half years of work, the ICV Pêche project coordinated by the CNPMEM has just delivered its first results: the environmental performance of French fisheries is variable but, overall, very satisfactory compared to other terrestrial animal productions.

The study of the environmental impacts of French fishing does not stop there and continues with the project IMPECH,  launched in early October 2018. Still coordinated by the CNPMEM and funded by FFP, it brings together professionals and scientists and aims to continue and refine the an initiative initiated by ICV Pêche, focusing in particular on explaining the variability observed for certain fisheries.

The French fishery has made its ecological assessment, screening 15 fisheries. The most virtuous targets included sardine, mackerel and herring.

The ICV fishing survey (life cycle inventory) integrates all consumptions and emissions to produce one ton of fish or shellfish, reduced to its protein portion for comparisons. The materials - ship, gear, equipment - weigh little against the fuel consumption, determining. "The environmental impact is mainly related to fuel efficiency , " says Thomas Cloâtre, who led the project to the National Fisheries Committee (CNPMEM).

Thanks to good yields, the weakest impact can be seen in pelagic trawl, purse seine and ring-net: sardines, herring, mackerel, bluefin tuna, anchovies and tropical tuna. On the other hand, fisheries are penalized by the travel time to fishing areas or low tonnages: albacore tuna, Celtic sea gadids, sole. Behind the pan, champion all categories, the fishing is doing well against meat and aquaculture. The worst positioned: beef and gadidae.

The study incorporated pressure on stocks, targeted or caught accidentally. It is the lowest for single-species fisheries because the measures or quotas are then adapted to the state of the target stock. In contrast, multi-species fisheries increase the risk of threatened species. The impact on the ecosystem is not yet taken into account: it is a perspective, with the integration of other important species and downstream of the sector.

ICV Pêche was funded by Ademe and France fishing industry, and coordinated by the CNPMEM with other professional structures (UAPF, Anop, Fedopa, Sathoan, CITTPM and Aquimer), in connection with INRA, IRD and design offices. Its results will feed the Agribalyse base of the Ademe. They are consistent with those of a global meta-analysis of the environmental cost of various sources of animal protein.

Story courtesy of Solène LE ROUX

The actual report is titled:

ICV Fishing - Life cycle inventories for selected fishery products
Towards an assessment of the environmental performance of fishery products

For many years, the fishing sector has been mobilised to practice sustainable and responsible fishing, based on three pillars: environmental, economic and social. From this point of view, one of the major challenges is to acquire a better knowledge of the impacts of fishing activities on the environment in order to put in place the appropriate practices.

In this context, several stakeholders in the fisheries sector have wished to join the Agribalyse program ( proposed by ADEME. This program aims to quantify the environmental impacts of many French food products through the life cycle analysis (LCA) method.

The project "ICV Fishing" is part of this dynamic and aims to evaluate, via LCA, the environmental performance of some fishery products, in particular to show how they can contribute to a sustainable food.

Objectives of the program

The ICV Fishing project has been experimental and has pursued several objectives. First, it aimed to improve knowledge and methodologies for assessing the environmental performance of fishing through LCA. Such a study had never been conducted in France before. A second objective was the production and availability of objective and robust data on the different stages of production of seafood for the evaluation of different types of fishing practices. Ultimately, this project provides a basis for the development of good practices by the fisheries studied.

Case studies

A sample of products representative of the diversity of fishing activities and environmental constraints was sought by the group of project partners. Fifteen "triplets" resulting from the species / fishing area / fishing gear combination have been identified. It is listed below:

  • Anchovy - East Central Atlantic - Seine
  • Scallop - Bay of St Brieuc - Dredge
  • Gadidae (cod, haddock, whiting) - Celtic Sea - Bottom
  • trawling Herring - North East Atlantic - Pelagic
  • trawl Black Sea - North Sea - Bottom trawling
  • Mackerel - North East Atlantic - Pelagic trawl
  • Sardine - Eastern Central Atlantic -
  • Sardine Sennie - Bay of Biscay - Ring-net
  • Sole - Bay of Biscay - Net
  • albacore - North East Atlantic - Pelagic trawl
  • Bluefin tuna - Mediterranean - Longline
  • Bluefin tuna - Mediterranean - Seine
  • Tropical tuna (yellowfin and Skipjack tuna) - Eastern Central Atlantic - Seine

The study area covers all fishing activities until the landing of the fish, including any on-board processing activities.

  1. Surveys were conducted among the various professionals concerned.
  2. An innovative project in contact with professionals
  3. This project has been an innovative initiative in several aspects:

The field of study was an originality in itself, since the environmental assessment of French fishery products through the life cycle analysis method was never carried out;

  • It involved actors in the sector: professionals and their representatives (UAPF, ANOP, FEDOPA, Sathoan, CITPPM) will ensure the collection of data - essential phase to carry out the analyzes;
  • It has brought together scientific experts from several research institutes (INRA, IRD) and specialists in LCA (Cycleco). Providers have also been engaged on certain actions (Mauric, New Wave Innovation Platform, Xavier Joly Conseil).
  • The project was coordinated by the CNPMEM over a period of 2 years (2016-2018).

It has been co-financed by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) and France Filière Pêche (FFP), in addition to the self-financing component of the partners. It is followed by the CGDD (General Commissariat for Sustainable Development) of the Ministry in charge of Ecology of MEEM (Ministry of Environment, Energy and the Sea).

First results that jostle the received ideas:

  • Unsurprisingly, the main parameter influencing the impact on the environment is the fuel efficiency of the fishery (ie: consumption of diesel per quantity of product landed).
  • Initial results suggest that fisheries targeting blue fish (sardines, anchovies, herring, mackerel, tuna, etc.) have the lowest overall environmental impact. This is explained by a lower fuel consumption compared to other trades (benthic trades in particular) and / or large quantities landed.
  • Some fisheries could also be penalized because of long travel time and / or fluctuating yields (eg the case of the albacore tuna fishery). Others suffer from a rapid wear of their gear (example of sole fishery net).
  • In general, these first results suggest that the environmental performance of fishery products is as good or better than that of meat products derived from terrestrial animal production.
  • These results are consistent with other similar international studies (ex: Hilborn et al, 2018)
  • However, our study shows a significant variability of these impacts, both between the different fisheries analyzed and between the vessels of the same fishery. Given this variability, it is therefore advisable to remain cautious.

A study that deserves to be deepened and completed to lead to an environmental improvement of tools and practices:

These first results, which will be more finely exploited during the new IMPECH program conducted by the CNPMEM from October 2018 to June 2019, already propose several avenues for improvement, for example:

  • As mentioned, it is necessary to analyze and explain the important variability existing between the vessels of the same fishery. This variability could be explained by more or less virtuous practices and / or the heterogeneity of the characteristics of the fishing vessels. and / or fluctuating interannual returns and / or uneven data quality.
  • The analysis of the impact on habitats and ecosystems (biotic impacts) appears complex but remains an important issue.
  • Taking into account the downstream sector (fish auction, fish trade, etc.), certainly more complex, would make it possible to be more exhaustive in the environmental assessment of fishery products.
  • It would also be interesting to analyze, in addition to the environmental aspect, the social and economic components of the sustainability of the fisheries studied.
  • Beyond this innovative French initiative, the interoperability of results between the various life cycle analysis programs must also be sought.