Two days after the investiture of Nicolas Sarkozy as the new president of the French Republic, the international marine protection organisation Oceana is asking him to put into place measures in line with his electoral commitment to respect the law. Oceana is demanding that these promises be met by making effective the European ban on the use of driftnets in the Mediterranean and definitively eliminating the use of this type of fishing gear by French vessels.
Driftnets, banned since 2002 by the European Union, whatever their length, for the catching of large pelagic fish and other species, have continued to be used in France under the name of thonaille, taking advantage of a loophole made by the absence of a definition of a “driftnet”. Despite the fact that in 2005 the French Council of State cancelled the decrees authorising the use of this type of fishing gear, which is against European Regulations, in 2006 the French Government granted a quota of 300 tonnes of Bluefin Tuna for a large number of thonaillers. Others continued fishing despite having no quota allocation.
In June, the European Fisheries Council will vote on a Regulation which would provide a clear definition of a driftnet, a definition which would certainly include the thonaille as an illegal driftnet.
”Since August 2005, when the French Council of State cancelled the decrees authorising the use of thonaille, this gear continues to be used illegally under French law and in contradiction with European legislation” states Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana Europe.
In 2006 Oceana, in its campaign for the elimination of driftnets in the Mediterranean, travelled around the southern French ports, documenting the continued use of this type of gear by French vessels. In 2007, Oceana is continuing, on board the catamaran Oceana Ranger, to document the vessels which use this illegal method to report their activities so that the authorities finally apply the appropriate measures to eliminate it.
Xavier Pastor concludes: “Nicolas Sarkozy must meet his electoral promises on respecting legislation and protecting the environment. French legislation must reflect European regulations which declare the use of thonaille illegal”.
For further information: Thonaille: the use of driftnets by the French fleet in the Mediterranean