Les Sables d’Olonne, 3rd of June 2016
Following the dismantling of a glass eels traffic, individuals in charge of a fish trading company operating in Loire-Atlantique (France) and several fishermen (including professional) have recently been interrogated. Properties resulting from the traffic have also been seized by the justice. The regional fisheries committee of Pays de la Loire (COREPEM, France) together with the fishermen it represents is truly satisfied with these events because legal fishermen are more often victims than guilty.
The drastic changes that have occurred in the past ten years in the regulation have badly affected the glass eel fishery and led to both a regression of the fishing conditions and the rise of illegal fishing and trading. These trends are accentuated by the improvement of the resource recruitment and the high profit that can be expected from glass eel illegal trade.
The COREPEM has always reported these illegal practices implemented by some fish traders who can collect, store and export several hundreds of kilos of living glass eels out of the French boundaries.
However, these practices only concern a minor part of the fishery. It is necessary to make the difference between (i) the large majority of professional fishermen who agree to make efforts to adapt their activity to the new regulation and commercial context, (ii) the marginal professional fishermen who do not declare all their catches and feed the illegal traffic, and (iii) the poachers who destroy the efforts made by the professional fishermen, plundering the resource without any limit and feeding the limited European market with lower prices.
Despite the socio-economic difficulties, the first category of fishermen has taken many actions to improve the resource (restocking program), the traceability (Télécacivelle system), the catches quality (Hydrotamis), or the valuation of their product (producer organization Estuaires). To sustain their activity, they strive to develop a social and economic system having a limited impact on the resource while respecting the regulations.
The COREPEM also wants to congratulate the control services for their commitment in combating poaching and illegal fishing, which is requested by fishermen themselves. While a lot still needs to be done, this struggle goes on and the diversification of the control methods shows its efficiency.
We hope this dismantling will mark the glass eels fishery history and will discourage fishermen, poachers, fish traders and other stakeholders tempted by short-term profit, to the detriment of responsible and determined profession.