Speaking at a meeting in Le Guilvinec, France’s Secretary of State for the Sea has pledged that no fisherman will be left high and dry in the coming weeks as the state undertakes to extend fuel aid at a rate of €0.20/litre for a further six weeks. Current aid was otherwise scheduled to end on 15th October.
So far the French state has put €75 million into fuel aid since March 2022, with four extensions and three increases in the aid ceiling for companies.
This latest pledge to provide further fuel aid avoids any interruption in support while the French state and the European Commission continue their discussions.
‘I believe in the future of fishing and its importance for France’s food sovereignty, the dynamism of our coastlines, and the development of our local economy. Faced with the consequences of Brexit, rising fuel costs and inflation, I have been fighting for over a year not to leave anyone in the lurch,’ Hervé Berville told fishermen at the meeting in southern Finistère – one of the regions most affected as fishing vessels are decommissioned.
‘Alongside the fishermen of Guilvinec, we have together defined support measures and avenues for joint work to relieve the cash flow of their businesses and ensure long-term prospects.’
The government pledges come in response to a furious reaction from the industry and fishing sector organisations to the prospect of fuel support coming to an end.
He commented that landing volumes at French auctions have dropped, and that while its scope has been limited, the Individual Support (decommissioning) Plan has contributed to this decline.
‘We are in a transition phase which affects fish trading,’ he said, adding that the seafood trade will benefit from a specific state support plan to cover part of the operating loss of businesses affected by Brexit over one year, with aid of up to €15 million.
In the lead up to 2024, the Secretary of State said that the authorities are making efforts to bring together local authorities, regions and departments, the entire sector within the framework of FranceAgriMer, and energy companies. The first financing from the CMA-CGM €20 million private fund for the decarbonisation of the fishing fleet will be activatable early in the new year. France is also requesting an extension of the Ukraine temporary support system until the end of 2024 with an increase in the ceiling. This decision is expected in early November.
The French state has obtained a voluntary commitment from TotalEnergies to launch the greening of fishing fuel and implement a reduction at the pump of €0.13/L from 1st January 2024.
‘We are working to ensure that this commitment is also shared by other suppliers and distributors throughout the country. We need the sector to ensure that the entire territory is well covered,’ Hervé Berville said, and commented that banks are being requested to freeze loan repayments for fishing companies as required, while the government has also pledged to suspend tax payments and social costs for those companies that request it. In early 2024 the French state will present its National Fisheries Strategy