A net improvement for anchovy prospects has triggered a 15 million euro plan to get the French off the hook. Paris is determined to support its anchovy fishermen in the wake of the European Commission’s decision to keep the Bay of Biscay off limits at least until this time next year. The estimated tonnage in the sea has improved since last year but not enough.
A disgusted French anchovy buyer told national television: “It is a scandal: stopping us from going to work on a fish that is readily available! It’s too easy. I can be a scientist too! I’ll ban fishing, and in ten years I guarantee you there’ll be more fish!” The new administration in Paris invoked national solidarity. Commission officials are due to meet the French authorities next week to discuss the plan.
A spokeswoman in Brussels said: “The aid France has talked about is community aid from the European Fisheries Fund and also national aid.” Given the short life span of anchovy and the depletion of their numbers off southwestern France and northern Spain, the Commission says more time must be allowed for the stocks to recover before sustainable commercial fishing can resume.