French Government ‘accomplice to Indian ocean destruction’

Non-profit organisation BLOOM Association, which works to protect sea and ocean-based habitats and boost social benefits of fishing, has launched legal action against France. 

Two separate proceedings have begun, one in the Administrative Court and another in the Conseil d’État (Council of State), as a result of irresponsible fishing in the Indian Ocean. 

gray fish lot in crate

In the first instance, failure to provide information on the control of French tuna vessels, and the location and number of floating rafts used by tuna fishing fleets lies at the centre of the case.

These ‘fish aggregating devices’ (FADs) are highly controversial, essentially tricking ocean-going pelagic fish – such as tuna and marlin – into congregating around them, where they can be caught in large numbers by fishing boats.

Ironically, campaigning for ‘dolphin safe’ and ‘ethical’ tuna has s led to a move away from old purse seining methods, and rise in FADs, which are not considered as much of a threat. This means that by 2018 96% of EU tuna catches in the Indian Ocean used d-FADS, which still pose a risk to other species. Meanwhile, of vessels still using purse seining in the waters, 97% of overfished yellowfin caught between 2015 and 2019 were juveniles. 

BLOOM’s second case centres on France granting approval for its tropical tuna fishing fleets to conduct operations that would be illegal in EU waters. This includes a proposal to deviate from rules that offer some protection to other types of fish that may be caught by tuna boats. Rather than using the standard 10% margin of error on a species-by-species basis, the margin is applied to an entire catch.

‘Such a change would make the collection of quality data incredibly unlikely, as the species making up these catches would no longer matter. This would have dramatic consequences for the monitoring of the health of marine ecosystems and the establishment of proper quotas,’ said Frédéric Le Manach, scientific director of BLOOM. ‘It would allow the continued overfishing of already endangered species, such as yellowfin and bigeye tuna.’ 

Earlier this week, the United Nations ended decades of debate with a new agreement on marine protection. Find out more about the High Seas Treaty here.

Image: Richard Bell




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