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Association de Ligneurs de la Pointe de Bretagne -
2009 Seafood Champion
In 1993, facing a growing Mediterranean aquaculture industry and threatened by big trawlers moving into their traditional fisheries, a collective of Brittany fishermen took an unusual and forward-thinking approach to ensuring the sustainability of their livelihood and its resource. Rejecting the argument that traditional fisheries must soon adapt or disappear, these fishermen from the Brittany coast in France went to look for customers who would be willing to purchase a different type of product.
There are about 200 handliners, also known as trollers, spread over the Brittany coasts. They target one main species, the seabass; additional target species include: seabream, pollack and whiting. They only use lines and their boats must be less than 12 meters. Fish are subjected to an individual marking for trade, and more than 500,000 fish are identified each year, bringing in 10 million euros annually
The trollers view their approach not as a money matter but as a matter of the heart. Wanting to earn a living in the 21st century with a piece of thread and some hooks is quite a challenge, and making this choice means being part of nature: “not taking anything from the sea that the sea does not want to give us.”
Leading by example
The Association has implemented its own management efforts: a 45-day fishing closure during the spawning season, and choosing a 32-centimeter size limit for fish caught instead of 25 centimeters (European size) for the red (sea)bream / common pandora.
Holding a dialogue
Engaging stakeholders is key because the issues facing this fishery and many others are incredibly diverse. The Association meets regularly farmers and oyster-farmers on the issue of water quality; it is working to develop relationships with fishermen communities in the southern countries (Madagascar and Seychelles) and is working with other French fishermen on resource level recovery.
The Association has also begun an effort to bring the “fishermen to the consumer.” A label fixed to the fish gill of each seabream caught allows consumers to access online all the information about their fish, allowing them to know WHO caught the fish, WHERE it was caught and HOW. Additionally, the Association has begun to take a more active approach to media and press outreach to ensure the fishermen are able to be ‘seen.’
Building a future
Each of these actions has helped showcase a sustainable fishing approach, and the success that a collective, partnership-based strategy can bring. While some coastal and inshore fishing continues to decline, the Brittany liners’ community is increasing its workforce. However, the collective does not take this for granted and each year, wild bass stocks suffer the assaults from some seafaring/deep-sea fishermen only concerned about their immediate benefit.
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