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Fishermen, ecologists unite in northern France against giant factory trawler

In World
February 15, 2024

SAINT-MALO, France – Environmental activists and fishermen on Feb 15 joined forces to protest in northern France against a new giant fishing trawler factory, warning the vessel risked wrecking livelihoods and the environment.

Around 200 people protested in the port of the town of Saint-Malo in a show of anger against the Annelies Ilena, a massive fishing trawler with an on-board processing factory, one of the biggest such vessels in the world.

“It’s an aberration,” said Mr Nathan Kaufmann, a 27-year-old fisherman who travelled from his home region of South Finistere.

“I have a quota of 100 kilos of mackerel per week: the trawler can catch 400 tonnes in one day, it would take me 70 years to do the same.”

Flying the Polish flag and owned by a Dutch shipowner, the Annelies Ilena, 145m long and 24m wide, is to replace the Joseph Roty II, built in 1974 and which will now remain in dock.

The Saint-Malo Fishing Company said at the beginning of February that it had €15 million (S$21 million) of financing for the installation of a production unit for surimi – a fish paste used especially in Asian cuisine – on board the Annelies Ilena.

Too large to enter the port of Saint-Malo, the factory ship will have to dock in the Netherlands. The surimi produced on board will reach the processing unit located in Saint-Malo by road.

“This factory boat is going to take fish to make pate… unload it in the Netherlands then bring everything back by truck” to Saint-Malo, said another fisherman, Simon, who did want to be identified further.

The protesters formed a human chain along the fishing port of Saint-Malo, with slogans including “disarm industrial fishing” and “murderers of the seabed”.

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