Facing vote on European subsidies, fishermen cling to way of life

22 October 2013

Source: New York Times

Author: David Jolly

COMBRIT, France — In a world of giant trawlers and fish-farming operations, Gwenaël Pennarun still sets out most days from this Breton village to catch sea bass the old-fashioned way, with baited hooks. It is a way of life, and work, that he hopes the European Union will continue to support, depending on a coming vote on its fishing policies.

Early on a crisp and windy morning recently, Mr. Pennarun, 50, was a few miles offshore in the Bay of Biscay, hooking minnows and playing out several dozen long lines with an efficiency born of 30 years on the job. Though the risk of a fatal fall overboard is always present for someone working alone, he nevertheless appeared oblivious to the tilt of the deck and the soaking spray as his 8.5-meter, or 28-foot, aluminum boat climbed and plunged with each wave.

A kilogram — or 2.2 pounds — of line-caught sea bass fillets, known in French as “bar de ligne,” can retail for more than 100 euros, or $137, in a Paris fish market, about double that of trawled fish and perhaps four times that of most farmed. The line-caught fish reach the dock fresh, and often alive, not frozen like trawled fish, and many customers prefer the taste and texture of the wild fish to that of farmed. Eco-conscious consumers may also be willing to pay more for fish caught according to a method that groups like Greenpeace endorse for “sustainability.”

For more, go to: www.nytimes.com/2013/10/23/business/international/as-eu-subsidies-vote-nears-fishermen-cling-to-way-of-life.html