Fishing and fish farming

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The fishing industry – from boat to consumer – is an important sector both for the economy and for regional development. Ranked 4th among sea fisheries in Europe, with 9% of community catches, continental France has 63 fishing ports, 38 fish markets, 12 producers' organisations and 608 wholesale and processing companies. 

This forward-looking industry relies on ever more innovative technologies for better knowledge and management of the resource: identification and targeting, selectivity, etc. Projects for future fishing boats – especially those by Breizh Marine Consult – respond to key issues such as energy saving, adaptability, ergonomics and safety in particular, which will allow fishermen to be even more competitive to meet the growing demand for sea produce. 

Indeed, with a world population estimated at 9 billion people in 2050, fishing and fish farming will make a significant contribution to meeting food requirements. Forecasts by the OECD and the FAO stress the importance of fish as a source of proteins, which will spur the economic growth of the sector. 

Apart from catching and farming, advances in R&D open up prospects for developing new fish and aquaculture products, co-products and by-products. The Pôle Aquimer is a leader in this field and accommodates a cluster of specialised industries. As a result, structured around these new developments is a complete value chain from production through processing and industrialisation to distribution, which responds to the needs of different markets: human and animal nutrition, cosmetology, health, etc. 

In this spirit of innovation and sustainable development in fishing and aquaculture, France has contributed a budget of E 588 M for the period 2014-2020 (70% more than for the previous period) as part of the FEAMP (European Fund for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) aimed at boosting growth in the sector and this is now awaiting the operational programmes for its implementation. 

The structuring of this sector, in part by the professional organisation of sea fishing and fish farming (CNPMEM), was altered following the Law on the Modernisation of Agriculture and Fishing (LMAP) passed in July 2010. 

French headline data 

  • 7,121 vessels representing 8% of the European Union fleet, 
  • fleet composed mainly of boats less than 12 metres, with 18% made up of 12 to 24 metre vessels in continental France, 
  • turnover (fresh and frozen fish): around € one billion, 
  • Brittany accounts for 44% of landings in mainland France by value, followed by the regions of Pays de Loire (13%), Lower Normandy (13%), and Nord-Pas-de-Calais (8%), 
  • 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, Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Oléron. In 2014, nearly 209,200 tonnes were sold there by French and foreign boats, 
  • in 2013, French households bought, for home consumption, 33% of their seafood products fresh, 32% as chilled prepared products, 20% as frozen products and 15% as tinned products. Average annual consumption per person is 35 kg, 
  • in 2013, restaurants spent E 1,135 million, of which E 603 million was on fresh products, E 431 million was on frozen products, E 57 million was on chilled prepared products and E 44 million was on canned products. 



National Bodies


The CNPMEM (National Committee of Maritime Fisheries and Marine Fish Farms) is a private body with public service responsibilities, which represents all professionals in the production sector of maritime fisheries and fish farming. 

Apart from the CNPMEM headquarters in Paris, this professional body is now organised along the coast of mainland France and the Overseas Territories in 14 Regional Committees and 12 Departmental or Interdepartmental Committees. 

More and more of the work of the CNPMEM is devoted to ensuring the responsible and balanced exploitation of the marine resources and achieving recognition of the value of the jobs and the men and women in the sector. It is responsible for regulating the maritime fisheries and actively participates in drawing up French and European regulations for the industry. 

All of the matters dealt with by the CNPMEM pursue the same objective: to gain recognition at all levels of French, European and international decision-making for the commitment and responsibility of the professionals of the sector, especially as an example of a “responsible fishery and sustainable development”. 

“French Fisherman, a legitimate responsible occupation, serving the great majority and resolutely forward-looking.” 

Coopération Maritime

Coopération maritime, an association under the 1901 Act, has been the umbrella organisation for French small-scale fishing cooperatives for more than a century. With six branches of activities, it covers around 1,230 fishing boats and more than 150 cooperatives or subsidiaries of cooperatives: operation-management cooperatives, producers' organisations, provisioning cooperatives, regional maritime cooperative credit banks, marine and mutual insurers, marine farming. 

It represents a total turnover of € 800 million, more than half of which is generated by the fishing boats themselves. A quarter of this turnover comes from provisioning cooperatives and their affiliates under the brand “Comptoirs de la mer”. 

A leading player in the social and solidarity-based economy in the maritime world, it is implementing a number of projects on behalf of the fishing industry in two key areas: financial engineering and tax optimisation related with the French solidarity wealth tax “ISF” via a special mechanism; energy savings and optimisation of the use of diesel fuel by boats at sea. 

Association des Directeurs et Responsables des Halles à Marée de France 


The Association of Directors and Managers of French fish markets aims to facilitate relationships between its members, in order to optimize and enhance the running of fish markets. 

The Association is a privileged interlocutor of State departments (DPMA, DGAL...) in the implementation of regulatory rules. 

The Association is member of the Board of Directors of France Filière Pêche, as well as participating to the Specialized Council for Fishing and Agriculture for France Agrimer. 

The 36 French fish markets organize the marketing for 220,000 tons of fish products for a total value 

reaching € 660 million. 

CRPMEM Bretagne 

With more than 6,000 fishermen and a fleet of almost 1,500 ships, the CRPMEM de Bretagne represents a third of the French profession. It is the essential link between the fishermen and the other actors of marine economy. Source of proposal, this organization is totally involved in a sustainable exploitation of marine resources. Its role is to inform the entire Brittany fleet on national and European measures and to provide assistance to the fishermen for their activities. It also carries out research work, experimentation and socio-economic studies and participates in the promotion of marine resources. 

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 E 110 and 140 M. 

UAPF - Union des Armateurs à la Pêche de France

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. 

Sea fishing shipowners

France Pélagique

FRANCE PELAGIQUE is a French fishing company created in October 1988. From the very beginning, all vessels managed by FRANCE PELAGIQUE have caught only pelagic species such as mackerel, herring, horse mackerel, blue whiting and sardine. 

FRANCE PELAGIQUE operated two freezer trawlers: Prins Bernhard and Sandettie, both registered in Fécamp (France). 

The company employs around 70 people, including 5 in its Paris headquarters, the remaining 65 being fishermen working on board the two vessels. 

All catches are frozen on board and unloaded at the company’s cold stores in the Netherlands. Its annual turnover is between 20 and € 24 million, 100% of sales being made abroad. 


Les Mousquetaires invested more than 20 years ago, in a fishing company, Scapêche. With 23 ships and 250 sailors and officers, Scapêche is now the largest fresh fishing company in France and makes a significant contribution to the French and European fishing industry. 

Administrative, technical and commercial divisions of Scapêche, comprise 30 employees, are based in Lorient with premises in Le Guilvinec and La Réunion. 

The fleet operated by Scapêche comprises: 

  • 1 55-meters frozen longliner (Patagonian toothfish), 
  • 1 33-meters longliner (fresh fish), 
  • 16 trawlers from 24 to 46-meters (fresh fish), 
  • 3 16-m purse seiners (sardine), 
  • 2 18- and 24-m pot vessels (crab). 


Aquaculture today represents more than a half of world fish production, against only 9% in 1980. This is a major transformation, and a vital extra contribution to the drive for responsible fishing. 

However, in 15 years production in France has dropped to less than 50,000 T, while Norwegian production has passed the 1 million tonne mark. Consumption of aquatic products is growing, but this increase is being fed by imports (87% in 2012). 

Yet going by its wealth of resources, France has numerous advantages for developing diversified high quality production (Charte Qualité-Aquaculture de nos Régions®, LR, AB, IDAQUA® sustainability indicators) which it supplies to consumers in a committed sustainable approach: 

  • 35,000 T of trout sold for consumption or live for recreational fishing, 
  • with 7,000 T, pond fish farming is in free fall due to exponential predation by cormorants (a protected species), 
  • in marine fish farming, hatcheries produce nearly 93 million alevins, around 90% of which are sold for export as the sector has been prevented from expanding due to problems of access to sites and tight regulatory and environmental restrictions: only 4,500 T on 15 ha over 5,000 kms of metropolitan coastline! 
  • finally, with a Sturgeon caviar production of 19 T, this French fishery is one of the two world leaders. 

In future, the real challenge for aquaculture will be to increase production sufficiently to meet the world’s food and nutritional needs without increasing pressure on the aquatic resources for fish feed, and without losing control of the environmental impact. 

In France and Europe, many are taking a stand in favour of aquaculture development, but this has translated only partially into concrete action. 

There needs to be a change in the regulations, especially those on the environment, to take account of the difficult issues faced by this young industry in order to boost development and provide a clear field of play for the professionals. On this aspect there are in fact positive developments. Although implementation of the regional marine aquaculture development schemes (SRDAM) is sometimes proving difficult, specific examples, such as the introduction of a Plan for Progress for continental fish farming show that dialogue can produce solutions which are viable and profitable for everyone. 

Under the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy), France works on a national long-term strategic development plan for aquaculture. This involves translating the political will expressed by the government into specific action based on the strategic orientations of the European Commission (simplifying administrative procedures, coordinating land-use planning, boosting competitiveness in aquaculture, creating conditions of fair competition). This is a new impetus for developing sustainable aquaculture in France! 

SFAM - Syndicat Français de l’Aquaculture Marine et Nouvelle

The SFAM groups together the great majority of French producers of marine and new species (sea-bass, gilt-head sea-bream, sturgeon, meager, salmon, turbot and sole). The production of the sector represents over 90 million juveniles (of which more than 70% are for export), nearly 5,000 tons of table-fish and over 20 tons of caviar. With its offices near Bordeaux, the SFAM participates in the work of all bodies concerned with the sector and pushes for a sustainable growth because, at present, the products of French aquaculture represent a mere 2% of the consumption in France of aquatic food products. The sector is still going through difficult times and is waiting for the firming up of the expressed political will to implement the necessary tools to secure the present activity and promote further development. 

Ferme Marine de Campomoro 

Campomoro site is located in Campomoro bay in the extreme southwestern Gulf of Valinco, southern Corsica, on an exceptional environment. 

It enrolled in the approach of quality desired by Gloria Maris group. Campomoro site products 150 tons of bio seabass and bio seabream per year. 

Campomoro aquacul ture si te has st r ict specification, guaranteeing an efficient and 100% natural feed, long farming cycles for ideal growth, densities below national standards and artisanal production. All that grants to fish very good growth andauthentic taste approuved by famous Michelin chefs. 

With 4,000 tons of production of high quality, Gloria Maris group confirms its national leadership position in high quality aquaculture market in French aquaculture market. 

Les Poissons du Soleil 

Created in 1975, Les Poissons du Soleil (a subsidiary company of the Aqualande group) produces juveniles of fish destined for Mediterranean farmers and delivers them by sea directly on its customers offshore cages. It is based in Languedoc-Roussillon with 4 production sites and 50 employees, including a unit on the Port of Sète - Frontignan allowing industrial development of marketing by sea. 

The quality of its juveniles is recognized internationally through its know-how and its R & D investment, in particular in terms of genetic selection The export represents 88% of production, mainly in Europe and North Africa. 

Development of sea products

Pôle Aquimer

Founded in 1999 and label l ised as a Competitiveness Cluster in 2005, AQUIMER specialises in the promotion of aquatic products. 

  • The role of AQUIMER: 

to facilitate the emergence of R&D ideas and projects, from their origin to the search for funding and right up to their market launch. 

  • The aim of AQUIMER: 

to encourage the competitiveness of businesses, to help them to continue and develop their activities on a long-term basis through innovation and collaborative projects. 

Portde Pêche Lorient Keroman

SEM Lorient Keroman operated and manages the fishing port of Lorient, property of the Brittany administrative region. 

The Port of Lorient Keroman is one of the most dynamic fisheries trading centers in Europe and as a leading port of France, Keroman invests regularly in infrastructures and ultra-modern equipment. 

  • 7,000 m. of chilled fishmarket floor space, 
  • access to the catalogue and the auction via the web live for all type of sale, 
  • vivier tanks for shellfish, 
  • automatic supply of ice, 
  • production of clean sea water, 
  • automatic distribution of diesel fuel 24h a day, 
  • 7 ha high-equipped ship repair area, 
  • ship lift with a capacity of 650 tons, 
  • logistic platform with 36 loading bays. 
  • Lorient Fishing port key-numbers: 
  • 100,000 T / year of seafood products handled in Lorient, 
  • including 26,000 T directly sold by the port, 
  • 3,000 jobs. 

ALD- Atlantic Limpet Development 

Crepidula is the number one shellfish in France, and probably in Europe. Fished in Brittany, on the Emerald Coast of France, this is a small iodine pastel, ready to be cooked and eaten. Crepidula has her own unique personality; nevertheless, she does share some characteristics with her marine cousins. She is shelled and is completely cleaned, raw and frozen to allow the chef’s imagination to roam freely. The flesh is aimed at the food-processing market (Europe, Asia, Nor th America). A sustainable and renewable resource, the shell is made of a high-quality sea limestone (soll-enriching agent, water treatment). This weak impact on the environment and the virtuous nature of our fishing program has resulted in crepidula being acclaimed by the Mister Goodfish program which promotes sustainable fishing. 

A complete industry from fishing to processing has been established in cooperation with the local shellfish producers’ union supported by institutions and Breton politicians. Its approach is one of commitment to a green and circular economy. 

Communication and lobbying 

Blue Fish 

NGO for sustainable development, Blue Fish, the European association for the promotion of sustainable and responsible fisheries, is an NGO working on sustainable development. 

Created in 2013 upon the initiative of the ports of Lorient and Boulogne-Sur-Mer, Blue Fish is developing in the main fishing ports of Europe and works towards sustainable development objectives for the sector, from an environmental perspective as well as economic and social ones. 

Blue Fish is committed to disseminate good practices developed by the European fishing sector and its scientific partners, and supports sustainable development projects. It informs the public and fosters trust and dialogue with policy makers and elected representatives at national and European level. 

Its actions and broad membership make Blue Fish an NGO unique in Europe and an influential voice in debates on sustainable and responsible management of fisheries, at national level and with the European institutions. 


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 Maro