“We are working at a loss…” Breton fishermen decree a “state of emergency”

On the occasion of the ises de la Mer, which took place in Nice, a few days ago, the Breton Hervé Berville, Secretary of State for the Sea, confirmed that the diesel aid planned until October 15 2023 (20 cents per liter) would not be renewed “to return to a form of normality while supporting our fishermen” and because “in the end, it is the French taxpayer’s money” he then clarified to Ouest-France and TV Rennes. Even before the end of his speech in Nice, all the fishermen present, including many Bretons (Brittany represents almost 60% of French fishing alone), left the room.

“Sailors will soon no longer have sufficient pay”

“The price of diesel for fishing is now between 90 cents and 1 euro per liter,” says Yves Foëzon, director of Pêcheurs de Bretagne, one of the largest producer organizations in France (650 ships including Loire-Atlantique, 85,000 tonnes of production for 350 million euros in turnover in 2022) based in Quimper. The problem is that no one anticipated this context. If diesel had still, at a pinch, remained below 70 cents, things could have been different. We are currently working at a loss, and sailors will soon no longer have sufficient remuneration to go to sea. There is now a real state of emergency. If fishing does not overcome this unprecedented state of crisis, a certain number of fishing companies will go out of business in the coming months.

For most professionals from Finistère, the bulk of whose fleet is located in the heart of Pays Bigouden, in Guilvinec, we cringe. The first French artisanal fishing port sticks out its tongue. “This is no longer tenable,” thunders Christophe Collin, director of Armament Bigouden. Less than 15 days ago, one of my boats returned from 15 days at sea. Result of the races: 43,000 euros of fish sold at auction… for a bill of 23,000 euros of diesel. This means that the fishermen spent half their working time paying for fuel…”

A second groundswell

Already threatened by fishing zone bans linked to Brexitthe entire sector, which has tens of thousands of jobs in Lower Brittany alone, is “on the brink of collapse”, as we hear almost everywhere in the department’s auctions.

A few months ago, the Individualized Support Plan (PAI), put in place to compensate for these prohibitions (and nicknamed by many “ heist plan »), provided financial aid from the State to help heavily impacted French fishermen… with, in return, the destruction of boats which were no longer profitable… In Brittany, 45 applications were accepted, including 26 from the Bigoudène fleet uniquely.

“This diesel crisis, closely linked to the war in Ukraine, is a second groundswell which would impact the territory’s economy. We must act ! », storm, Yves Foëzon.

In the meantime, Maël de Calan, president of the Finistère departmental council, announced that he had sent, with local elected officials and all fishing professions, a collective letter addressed to the President of the Republic. The objective: for Emmanuel Macron to come and see for himself “at Guilvinec or elsewhere, so that he realizes that this sector is on the edge of the precipice”.

“No question of giving up”

“We held an extraordinary board meeting this Monday to decide on our next actions and steps vis-à-vis the State,” Olivier Le Nezet, Breton fisherman and current president of the National Fisheries Committee, declared today. .

“At the European level, one wonders if the French state is defending its sector. We have been insisting for months for a renewal of the European emergency aid framework as long as the Ukrainian conflict lasts (…).” And the chairman of the Committee concluded: “We thought that the messages had been ped with the Dead Line days (end of March 2023). It is clear that the accumulation of constraints weighing on our profession continues and that, without any emotion, the State is witnessing the progressive disintegration of our sector. To professionals, I can only say that there is no question of giving up on the sad fate that seems to be reserved for us.”

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