Home > The maritime sectors > Fish and Sea products
Fish and Sea products
Sea fishing and aquaculture are two complementary activities essential for the food chain, and France is ranked among the leading countries in Europe for these activities.
Metropolitan France has 63 fishing ports, 40 fish markets, 12 producers’ organisations and 600 wholesale and processing companies.
The fishing industry – from boat to consumer – is an important sector both for the economy and for regional development. Marine aquaculture, with 2,997 businesses, is included in this sector.
The structuring of this sector, in part, by the professional organisation of sea fishing and fish farming was changed following the Law on the Modernisation of Agriculture and Fishing (LMAP) passed in July 2010.
France is ranked 4th in Europe for sea fishing with around 10% of community catches.
• 7,235 vessels representing 8.7% of the European Union fleet (at 1st September 2011).
• Fleet composed mainly of boats less than 12 metres, with 10% made up of 12 to 24 metre vessels.
• Turnover: around one billion euros.
• Brittany accounts for 43% of landings in mainland France by value, followed by the regions of Lower Normandy (13%), Pays de Loire (12%) and Nord-Pas-de-Calais (9%).
• By quantity, fresh fish accounts for 49% of fishing and marine aquaculture.
• In frozen fish, tropical tuna (skipjack and albacore) is the number one species.
Diversified fisheries and extensive fishing grounds
In France four types of fishing are prosecuted:
• Distant-water fishing prosecuted by vessels over 1,000 GRT, and vessels over 150 GRT making trips of more than 20 days.
• Offshore fishing, carried on by vessels making trips lasting between 4 and 20 days.
• Inshore fishing, with trips of 1 to 4 days.
• Small-scale fishing, with trips of less than 24 hours.
The fishing grounds are located off the French coast, in the waters around Scotland and Ireland, between Iceland and Greenland, off Spain, and from the Gulf of Guinea to the Indian Ocean (tropical tuna) and as far as the Antarctic (Chilean sea bass).
Sales and consumption
• The principal fish markets by value are Le Guilvinec, Lorient, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Les Sables d’Olonne, Erquy, Oléron and St Guénolé. In 2011, nearly 212,232 tonnes were sold there by French and foreign boats.
• In 2010, French households bought, for home consumption, 33% of their seafood products fresh, 31% as chilled prepared products, 21% as frozen products and 15% as tinned products. Average annual consumption per person is 35.2 kg.
• In 2009, restaurants spent €1.182 billion, of which €527.002 million was on fresh products, €548.241 million was on frozen products, €47.470 million was on chilled prepared products and €59.332 million was on canned products.
French sea fish and marine aquaculture production in 2009-2010*
Comité National des Pêches Maritimes et des Elevages Marins (CNPMEM)
The National Committee of Maritime Fisheries and Marine Fish Farming (CNPMEM) is a private organization which has part of its mission delegated by the State. The membership of the CNPMEM is made up of all professionals from the production sector of Maritime Fisheries and Marine Fish Farming.
Apar t from the CNPMEM headquar ters in Paris, the professional organisation has 14 Regional Committees and 12 Departmental and Interdepartmental Committees of Maritime Fisheries and Marine Fish Farming spread along the seaboard of mainland France and the Overseas Territories.
More than ever, the CNPMEM works to ensure the responsible and well-balanced exploitation of the marine resources and to secure the jobs of the men and women working in the sector. It handles the structure of the maritime fisheries, and participates actively in the elaboration of the related French and European regulations.
The subjects and matters dealt with by the CNPMEM all pursue the same objective: to gain recognition at every level of decision making, whether French, European or International, for the commitment and responsibility of the professionals of the sector, especially as an example of “responsible fishing and sustainable development”.
“The French Fisherman does a legitimate and responsible job, of benefit for the largest number and determinedly forward-looking.”
France Pêche Durable et Responsable
France Pêche Durable & Responsable (France Sustainable & Responsible Fishing) is the interim association of a national foundation intended to act as a focal point for views and actions designed to help sustain small -scale and industrial businesses in the fishing industry in France and to develop the fishing economy.
It was established in 2008 by a group of single-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds, all with long experience in the fishing industry or having carried out high-level mandates in French and European representative organisations and sharing the desire to promote the much-needed development of fishing within an independent, innovative and collaborative framework.
France Pêche Durable & Responsable has initiated several high value-added technology projects aimed at identifying innovative technical solutions, especially in fuel-efficient propulsion systems and sustainable fishing gear.
Orthongel (French frozen and deep-frozen tuna producers’ organisation) is responsible for seeking and managing licenses giving access to the waters of third countries where vessels operate, representing, defending and promoting the interests of tuna shipowners, contributing to the management of the fishery and promoting the adoption of sustainable and responsible fishing methods. It is therefore a key contact of the DPMA and the DG MARE of the European Commission.
The fleet operated by Orthongel’s members includes 22 tuna purse seiners of 60 to 90 m divided among 3 shipowners: Compagnie Française du Thon Océanique (13 seiners) Saupiquet (4 seiners) and SAPMER (5 seiners) operating in the Atlantic (9 vessels) and Indian Ocean (13 vessels). French shipowners employ around 400 French crewmen and 550 crewmen mainly from countries with which fisheries agreements exist. The production is mainly composed of yellowfin and skipjack (98% of total tuna) and is used for canning. In recent years, French global production accounted for around 100,000 t of which two thirds came from the Indian Ocean. The annual turnover is between € 110 and 140 M.
Union des Armateurs à la Pêche de France (UAPF)
The Union des Armateurs à la Pêche de France (UAPF) is an organisation representing French fishing vessel owners. Its members operate deep-sea and distant-water fishing boats in the North East Atlantic as well as in the waters of French Guiana, the Central East Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean.
The UAPF represents and promotes the interests of French fishing vessel owners with public authorities, community authorities, regional and international fisheries management organisations, and other national and community professional organisations. It also helps to build relationships between its members and Fisheries Research Institutes.
With nearly 28% of sales, marine fish farming has become a key branch of the sector
French aquaculture essentially comprises shellfish farming (oysters and mussels) and fish farming on land and sea.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that around 100 million people today depend on fish farming to provide for their needs. According to its 2012 report on the global situation of fish and fish farming, caught fish and farmed fish produced approximately 148 million tonnes of fish in 2010 for a total value of 217.5 billion dollars, around 128 million tonnes of which were for human consumption, and the preliminary data show that production rose in 2011 to 154 million tonnes, 131 million tonnes of which were for food.
SFAM - Syndicat Français de l'Aquaculture Marine et Nouvelle
The SFAM, the French Marine Aquaculture Association, is the representative body of the vast majority of French producers of marine and new species (sea-bass, gilt-head sea-bream, sturgeon, meagre, salmon, turbot and now sole). The sector produces approximately 70 million juveniles (of which more than 70% are for export), and rears around 6,000 tons of table fish and 20 tons of caviar.
The headquarters of the SFAM are located near Bordeaux. The association engages with all entities in the sector and is spearheading a drive for sustainable growth aimed at boosting production by the French aquaculture sector from a mere 2% of French consumption of marine food products. The sector is currently going through difficult times and is pushing the government to act more decisively on its expressed political will to implement the measures needed to secure current activity and promote further development.
COFREPECHE - France Aquaculture
COFREPECHE – is a worldwide fisheries consultancy company established in 1980 jointly by professionals of the fisheries sector and Ifremer, the well known French Marine Research Institute (Institut français de recherche pour l'exploitation de la mer). In 1994, COFREPECHE took control of France Aquaculture, a former subsidiary company of IFREMER. The sustained deployment of special French then Spanish purse seiners in the Indian Ocean during the 80’s was their first success story. Since then, experts from COFREPECHE have travelled all over the world to carry out studies and assessments and to provide technical assistance and engineering supervision aimed at sustainable management of the sector and job creation. With significant experience and ‘know-how’ gained in several countries, COFREPECHE has become a key international partner in fisheries and aquaculture consultancy. In 2009, COFREPECHE created a subsidiary company in Morocco, “COFREPECHE Maroc”.
The French Coopération Maritime groups together 138 maritime cooperatives and other structures divided into 6 branches of activity (provisioning – social matters, vessel ownership – management, producers’ organisations – the wholesale fish trade,
aquaculture, mutuals and insurance and bank activity). With a global turnover of €417 M, it is one of the leading French groups in the maritime fisheries sector. Its brief is to represent, defend, stimulate and promote the fisheries sector and aquaculture.
French shellfish farming is ranked 2nd in Europe, with production averaging 200,000 tonnes of shellfish per year for a turnover of around 774 million euros.
4,643 licence holders operate a total of 49,716 concessions in the publicly owned tidelands, i.e. 15,480 hectares of mussel beds and 1,631 km of lines; plus 2,118 hectares in private waters.
2,872 businesses hold a health certificate to sell and market their products. They employ 20,000 people in 10,500 full-time equivalent jobs.
Cultivation conditions in shellfish farming vary greatly in terms of both species and diversity of production sites along the French coast (Channel, Atlantic, Mediterranean).
Oyster-farming, with nearly 2,654 businesses, produces an average of 130,000 tonnes of oysters. This volume represents a turnover estimated at 630 million euros.
Mussel breeding produces an average of 65 thousand tonnes of mussels and generates a turnover estimated at 120 million euros.
Farming of other shellfish generates a turnover in the order of 24 million euros.
(Source: Comité National de la Conchyliculture – 2011)
Sea fish farming is notable for the degree of concentration in the sector. The largest eight companies in the sector (which contains about fifty businesses) account for three quarters of sales, which total nearly 8.000 tonnes. The sector specialises in breeding sea fish and produces more than 70 million young fish of which 72% are exported.
Production of the main species (sea bass, sea bream) is split between the Northern region and the Mediterranean, with turbot being reared on the Atlantic coast.
As a mark of quality, those operating in the sector have produced a set of specifications leading to the inception of a quality initiative “Qualité- Aquaculture de France”, to identify and promote marine aquaculture products.
The French Aggregate Producers’ Association (UNPG) is made up of companies producing sand and gravel. From an annual consumption of 376 millions tonnes of aggregates, 6.5 million are siliceous and limestone aggregates of marine origin. A dozen companies extract marine aggregates using around fifteen sand dredgers which supply some twenty French ports. The activity employs 300 people at sea and ashore (sand terminals). It generates a turnover of around 70 million Euros.
The UNPG was set up to represent the mutual interests of its members. Its role also consists of providing them with assistance and information in a range of fields such as access to mineral resources, legislation, environmental protection, product quality, economic trends, etc.haut de page