They had been asking for it for weeks. French fishermen will benefit from the extension of aid of 20 cents per liter of fuel within the European framework which authorizes it until June 30, 2024, Emmanuel Macron announced Tuesday during the maritime economy conference in Nantes. This aid, which expired on December 31, will apply up to a ceiling of 335,000 euros per company. “These 20 cents will be combined with the aid that we have obtained from several large groups, Total and others, which means that we will have exceptional aid that our fishermen will never have had on fuel,” assured the president of the Republic.
The European system allows Member States to help fishermen faced with soaring energy prices in the context of the war in Ukraine. According to the national fisheries committee, diesel costs up to 40% of fishing owners' turnover. At the head of an aging fleet which has lost more than a quarter of its ships in 20 years, the professionals who have been so hard hit by the consequences of Brexit called for the maintenance of this emergency aid.
Beyond this “oxygen balloon” in the “short term”, the president recalled that he wanted to provide the French fishing sector with a “modernization strategy”. “Because it is the same challenge for our fishing as for our agriculture: there is no point in being more and more demanding with producers if behind us we allow more and more fishing products to be imported and from the sea that come from powers that do not respect these rules,” he explained. Recalling the launch “between now and next summer” of a “real contract for the transformation of French fishing”, he mentioned “several projects”. The question of the price of fish, the absence of a remunerative price making young people “reluctant” to embrace the sector, he cited, also evoking a better distribution of the value of margins.
The Head of State also wanted to “modernize the auctions”, because today “it costs less to land in Scotland or Ireland and transport the catch by truck to France”. “As a result, we have a carbon footprint which is disastrous, we have an economic balance sheet which is not the right one,” he regretted, also wishing to review “the governance of the sector”, today “too much complex". All these issues will therefore be discussed to decide “how we properly use the aid and investments that we will continue to make and in particular 700 million euros” generated thanks to offshore wind power between 2023 and 2035.