After more than a year of battle between London and Brussels, France finally obtained 1,054 fishing licenses from the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands.
For the dozens of fishermen who have remained on the floor or whose activity has been drastically reduced, the government has planned an "individual support plan" (PAI), or fleet exit plan, for boats that will be scrapped. .
"It is not with lightness of heart 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 declared to AFP Hubert Carré, director general of the national fisheries committee.
This plan could concern more than a hundred ships distributed between Brittany, Normandy and Hauts-de-France. A decree, expected for months, sets the terms.
According to this text, the vessel that is the subject of the aid application must be registered in France, entered in the European Union fishing fleet register, have carried out fishing activities at sea for at least 90 days a year during of the last two years preceding the year of the date of submission of the aid application.
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 value of the sales of its catches made during the reference year 2019 or 2020 in British waters, Jersey or Guernsey;
- not hold a fishing license giving access to the British 6-12 mile zone or the Channel Islands, and justify a prior activity in this zone;
- present a dependency on one or more specific fish stocks, generating at least 20% of the turnover.
The overall budget for the scheme is currently 60 million euros, financed by the European Commission as post-Brexit aid to the fishing sector.
The amount of the aid is calculated for each vessel according to its tonnage (power) and the beneficiary is prohibited from fitting out a new maritime professional fishing vessel or increasing its fishing capacity "during the five years following the payment of aid".
This prohibition "is an additional constraint", regretted Mr. Carré. For the national committee, the renewal of the aging French fleet requires the fitting out of more modern, more comfortable and quiet ships, and therefore more powerful, to attract a more demanding workforce and to accelerate the decarbonization of the sector. .
The fishermen had proposed the principle of a stock exchange, to scrap the oldest boats and keep the most modern, but this was not accepted, in particular because the gauges and fishing capacity of the vessels outgoing vessels and those of the beneficiary vessels would not have corresponded.
Fishing bosses have until November 18 to submit a request for assistance. If their application is accepted, they undertake to take their vessel out of the fleet within 90 calendar days.