French government special envoy for the planet calls on French Fisheries Minister to support phase-out of deep-sea bottom trawling and bottom gillnet fishing

Date: April 17, 2013

Source: BLOOM

At the conference on high seas governance organized by the French Consultative Assembly (The “CESE”,Economic, Social and Environmental Council) on April 11 in Paris, Mr.Nicolas Hulot,recently named “Special Envoy for the Protection of the Planet” by French President François Hollande, called on France to “take action” and urged French Fisheries Minister, Mr. Frédéric Cuvillier, to put an end to deep-sea fishing,which he called “an ecological and economic nonsense”, typical of a “wasteful civilization”.

The ecological effects of French deep-sea fishing boats are disproportionate to the size of the industry, which involves less than ten unprofitable but largely subsidized ships. Yet, the gear they use, mainly in UK waters, destroys vulnerable marine ecosystems and organisms, some of which live several centuries.

Nicolas Hulot expressed a “wish” that France, particularly Frédéric Cuvillier, adhere to the European Commission’s proposal on deep-sea fisheries. His speech was interrupted by thunderous applause.  The fisheries minister, due to speak that evening at the CESE, canceled his appearance.

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Last July, the European commission proposed a total overhaul of the deep-sea fishing regulation, as well as a phase out of the most destructive fishing methods for the deep-sea environment: deep-sea bottom trawls and bottom set gill nets. While the proposal is fiercely combated by France, it wasmassively endorsed (58 votes in favor versus 1 against) by Members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee last March 20th.

Mr. Hulot emphasized that France had great influence in maritime affairs, but that the country could be even more influential if it set the example. In June 2012, the newly elected French President Hollande declared an equivalent ambition at the Rio+20 Earth Summit, stating that France should be “one of the nations to set the example”. Three months later, during another speech in Paris, François Hollande went even further, setting out the objective to “make France the Nation of environmental excellence”.

Looking specifically at fisheries, how has France perform ed since these promising speeches?

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