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Peak Oil hits French fishing industry - State subsidizes trawler-fuel

French State subsidizes French fishing fleet oil in harsh context of oil prices of $134US on 21-5-08

Industrialised fishing is not only no longer sustainable due to falling fish-stocks but now falling energy supply has priced it out of the free market.

This is a real loaves and fishes crisis. Where is a miracle when you need it?

The French and most Europeans realize that they must prepare their industries to sustain a self-sufficient Europe.
After days of strikes with roads to petrol stations barricaded so that bowsers could not be replenished, the minister in charge of the French fishing industry received permission from the EU to accede to some of their demands. 40 m euros will go to assist the industry to deal with higher petroleum prices. 22 m of that will go to cod fishermen who have been temporarily unable to work due to having exceeded their quotas.

The French Primeminister, Francois Fillon, said yesterday that marine fishing is the only profession in France where the cost of petrol is deducted from the crew’s wages. It is now costing more to fish than fishermen earn. Marine fishing is also the most dangerous profession in France, with the greatest numbers of accidents and fatalities. He stated that these factors meant that the industry is not comparable to the trucking industry, when asked if similar subsidies would be accorded to road transport.

French fishermen complain that the price of imported fish is too low to compete with. The French fishing catch has fallen by 60% whilst the French consume 40% more fish. One in nine fish consumed comes from aquaculture.

The French fishing fleet has been rationalized by law and through attrition from 43,000 to 17,000 over the past few years as the fish-stock falls and the EU tries to come to grips with ecological limits. There have been battles for fishing territory between French fishermen and other European fishermen, notably the Spanish, who, in 1994 boarded a French fishing boat, “La Gabrielle”, and surrounded it with 300 Spanish tuna-fishing vessels for seven days whilst negotiations proceeded at an international level to free the French boat.

The French fishing fleet is made up mostly of trawlers. Since the 1970s, line fishing was replaced by huge metal nets. Trawlers drag these heavy nets back and forth across the sea all day long. According to the Regional economic observatory in Britanny, petroleum made up 20% of costs for a trawler 16-20 meters long in 2006, compared with 10% for a lobster pot-boat of 12-20 meters and around 6% for a line-boat of 12-24 meters. ( Source :Laetitia Clavreul, « La crise du gazole révèle les failles de la pêche française, », Le Monde, Paris, )
The possibility, so cherished by growthism-economists, of increasing productivity to solve all resource problems, comes head on up against the reality of declining fish stocks and declining oil production in this case. Aquaculture is not a simple solution because it also relies heavily on fossil fuel to feed its fish, is highly polluting and disturbing to ecosystems, and cannot compete with the variety supplied by nature. There is currently research into using organic waste, including human waste, to feed aquacultures, but doing this safely on an industrial scale is problematic like so many processes which work on a small scale.


If only it had been an April Fool’s joke. But it’s true. On 1 April, the 95-metre industrial factory trawler the Dirk-Dirk (now reflagged as the Geelong Star) arrived in Australia, and it’s starting to fish in our waters right now.

Unbelievably, the Abbott Government has welcomed this foreign factory trawler, despite huge opposition from recreational fishers, conservation groups, tourism businesses and local communities alike.

Join a weekend of action at these events around Australia to Stop the Trawler. Bring your friends, banners and boats along!

Melbourne: 11am Saturday 18th rally at the Victorian State Library

Fremantle: 11am Saturday 18th banner event outside Cicerello's on Mews Road

Hobart: 10am Sunday 19th boat rally on the water or 12noon outside Fish Frenzy at Elizabeth St Pier

Sydney: Perth (TASMANIA): 10am Saturday 18th boat towing to rally at Lions Park

Adelaide: Sunday 26th banner event at Birkenhead Bridge, Port Adelaide (note, the weekend after)

For more details on the events visit Stop the Trawler

And if there isn’t a rally being organised near you, you can take a photo with your ‘Stop the Trawler’ message, and post it on social media using the Stop the Trawler Alliance’s hashtag #StopThisBoatTone or email it to us on

This is the largest factory trawler to be fishing in Australia, and it’s starting to fish in our waters now. But we don't know where or we don’t know what they caught, because the company is protected from providing this information!

Massive freezer-factory trawlers represent the most extreme excesses of global over-fishing, wreaking ecological havoc in our oceans. We must not let them get a foot in the door.

Please take part on our national weekend of action to protect our marine life, our fisheries and the future of our local fishing communities. In 2012 we stopped the Margiris, and we can do it again.

For our marine life and fishing future,

Michelle and the team
Save our Marine Life & Protect our Coral Sea