The French Government defined this Thursday the conditions of access to compensation for fishermen whose activity has been seriously affected by Brexit and who will send their boat to scrapping, epilogue of a diplomatic-commercial battle of more than a year between Paris and London , arbitrated by Brussels.
France eventually obtained 1,054 fishing licenses from the UK and the Channel Islands, allowing holders to continue fishing in its waters, as before Brexit. For the dozens of fishermen who have been left on the ground or whose activity has been drastically reduced, the Government has provided an “individual support plan” (PAI), or fleet exit plan, for the vessels that will be destroyed.
“It is not with joy that we accept a fleet exit plan. But we have been waiting for this decree for months: finally, business leaders will be able to organize themselves, move forward,” added Hubert Carré, Director General of the National Fisheries Committee. The Secretary of State for the Sea, Hervé Berville, defended “a plan that does not lead to the destabilization of a fishing port or a fish market and therefore does not contribute to the weakening of our fishing capacity,” in a statement.
This plan could affect more than a hundred ships distributed between Brittany, Normandy and Hauts-de-France. The conflict escalated through 2021, with London going so far as to send two patrol boats out of Jersey, while Paris threatened to cut power to the Channel Islands.
Selon l’arrêté published in the Journal officiel jeudi, tout navire object d’une demande d’aide doit avoir mené des activités de peche pendant au moins 90 jours par an au cours des deux dernières années précédant l’année of the date of presentation of the demand. The vessel must have “entered the fleet before January 1, 2021” and meet at least one of the following conditions:
– justify a dependency of at least 20% of the total sales value of your catches made during the reference year 2019 or 2020 in British waters, Jersey or Guernsey
– do not have a fishing license giving access to the British 6-12 mile zone or the Channel Islands, and justify previous activity in this zone
– Present a dependency on one or more specific fish stocks, generating at least 20% of the turnover.
The overall endowment of the device is currently 60 million euros, financed by the European Commission. The amount of the aid is calculated for each vessel according to its power and the beneficiary is prohibited from equipping a new vessel or increasing its fishing capacity “during the five years following the payment of the aid”.
This prohibition “is an additional restriction”, lamented Hubert Carré. For the national committee, the renovation of the aging French fleet requires equipping more modern, more comfortable and quieter boats, and therefore more powerful. The fishermen had proposed the principle of a stock exchange, to scrap the oldest boats and keep the most modern ones, but this was not accepted, in particular because the calibers and fishing capacity of the outgoing boats and those of the beneficiary boats they would not have reciprocated. .
Fishing captains have until November 18 to submit a request for assistance. If their request is accepted, they undertake to withdraw their vessel from the fleet within 90 calendar days. “Beyond this plan”, Hervé Berville mentioned ways to support the sector, in particular with “a fund for the decarbonization of fishing boats”.
But fishermen do not stop worrying about the consequences of Brexit: they fear that new technical modalities (types of nets, quotas) associated with the new British licenses will be imposed on them, and they already fear overfishing in French waters after the summer of 2026, when European vessels will have to give up 25% of their catches in British waters.
Source: BFM TV