Case study Granville

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The lobster fishery of the Granville Bay and its governance (France)

Presentation and history

The Bay of Granville (Figure 1) is an area that takes on a special significance because of its geographical situation. Indeed, it is a shared maritime border area between England (Jersey) and France (regions of Lower Normandy and Brittany). It is located west of the Cotentin and around Jersey[1]. The Granville Bay, also known as the Norman-Breton Gulf, takes its name from the town of Granville located in the department of Manche. Fishing in this maritime region, and lobster fishing in particular, is of particular importance. Lobsters are an iconic and very present species due to the numerous island groups and rocky shore platforms that provide shelter to one of the largest French lobster nursery habitats[2].


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Figure 1 : Geographical situation of the Granville Bay[3]

The lobster (Homarus gammarus) is a crustacean that is found in waters spanning from Norway’s southern coastline to the north coast of Morocco. It is a solitary and very territorial animal that only lives in marine waters and with large populations being concentrated in the Western English Channel and around the British Isles. It lives on all rocky shores between 0 and 100 m, and sometimes up to a depth of 200 m. Lobster fishing, being a species with very high market value, is generally carried out using pots (or lobster pots) which are passive fishing gears that have very little impact on the environment, as well as nets but to a lesser extent. It is directly targeted during its fishing season but is also a bycatch of the brown crab and spider crab fisheries. The main fishing trades are that of coastal trapping and French small versatile fishing vessels. In the Granville Bay, the largest lobster fishing community is that of Lower Normandy, located mostly on the west coast of the Manche department. About 220 licences for large crustaceans are allocated annually in Lower Normandy. Only about sixty specialised lobster fishermen from the western part of the Cotentin navigate to the Norman and Anglo-Norman island groups for fishing. In addition to these Norman fishermen, Breton ships (from the departments of Ille et Vilaine and Côtes d' Armor) and ships from Jersey fish in the Granville Bay (Figure 1). In all, 239 vessels practice pot fishing in this bay[4][5]. It is unusual due to its cross-border positioning, as community fishermen have fishing rights in the area of Jersey and vice versa. The most important port in terms of landings of lobster is Granville (Figure 2) with 44 tonnes landed in 2013 (data from the FranceAgrimer Fish Market Network (Réseau Inter Criée- FranceAgrimer)). This fishery is composed for the most part of vessels that are less than 12 meters in length and targets lobsters mainly between March and November. Fishermen mostly catch lobsters and spider crabs but also, incidentally, velvet swimming crabs and common littoral crabs.

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Figure 2 : Granville fish market

The lobster fishery of the Granville Bay is MSC certified with regard to its sound management and its healthy lobster stock (Figure 3). The MSC is a certification and eco labelling program that recognises and promotes sustainable fishing. 130 ships from Lower Normandy and Jersey are participating.

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Figure 3 : MSC certified lobster (photo : Normandie Fraicheur Mer)

Organisation of the governance

The governance of the fishery in this specific maritime area involves a co-management system that takes into account the cross-border nature of the fishing ground.

Governance in the French territorial waters

In Lower Normandy, a true co-management system prevails between administrative and occupational structures for the lobster fishery. In this system, the lobster resource management initiative originates mainly from the local users (Picault et al., 2014). Decision-making is participatory, thus giving stakeholders the opportunity to voice their positions. Fishermen enjoy a degree of autonomy because they hold some control over the management of the fishery[6]. However, the regulatory decision-making falls to the central (national level) or decentralised (regional level) administrations. The community of lobster fishermen of the Granville Bay in Lower Normandy is directly represented in terms of governance through the Regional Committee of Maritime Fisheries and Marine Fish Farms of Lower Normandy (Comité Régional des Pêches Maritimes et des Elevages Marins de Basse-Normandie - CRPMEM BN). In this region, there are no departmental Committees, as in Brittany for example (Picault et al. , 2014) but rather CRPMEM antennas (notably that of Granville for lobster). It is a structure that was officially created at the same time as all the regional Committees of France in 1991. However, a first institution had been created in Lower Normandy as early as 1980. The objective of the CRPMEM is to secure and manage fishing within 12 nautical miles , including through the introduction of regulations. Within this committee, the “Crustacean” Commission is the authority dedicated to the management of the lobster fishery in the region. It is a place of exchange between specialised fishermen. It also involves scientists who express their opinions on the issues that are addressed. The Committee has no decision-making power but rather a decisive role of recommendation, notably where regulations are concerned. It enables opinions to be fed back and to propose management measures that will be validated by the state at the level of the administration, through the Interregional Directorate for the Sea (Direction Interrégionale de la Mer -DIRM). This is how a system of licenses was established. The issuance of these depends on a set of eligibility criteria as defined by this Commission and by the “Shellfish” Commission of the National Committee of Maritime Fisheries and Marine Fish Farms (Comité National des Pêches Maritimes et des Elevages Marins - CNPMEM). Since 1993, vessels desiring to fish for lobster must hold a national license, which is mandatory for any vessel wishing to fish for crustaceans in French waters[7].

A cross-border management of the lobster fishery

The Bay of Granville has a rich history in terms of maritime law. Agreements in this area started in 1839 so as to define the maritime boundaries between the two countries and, thereby, three fishing grounds. In 1959, the British obtained sovereignty over the Minquiers by decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Agreements were signed in July 2000 following recurring exchanges between the two countries since 1992[8]. These agreements, known as the “Granville Bay Agreements", delineate a marine border between France and Jersey. They also define a fisheries agreement taking into account both the boundaries and historical fishing rights [3]. From these agreements emerged the creation of the Granville Bay Joint Management Committee (Comité Consultatif Conjoint de Gestion de la Baie de Granville - CCCBG), which is a pioneering example of cross-border fisheries management. The CCCBG enables discussion between stakeholders of the fisheries sector. Its role is to build a maritime area with an internal management consistency. Its function is to ensure the effective conservation and management of fisheries resources in the sector governed by these agreements. This cross-border structure involves two states with a representation of the professionals of the fishing industry (Brittany and Normandy for France), the administration, and scientists. Fishermen therefore have a forum where they can exchange on different topics to find management consensus between Jersey and France for a given resource [3].

Outlook for the fishery

The lobster fishery is a fishery that has managed to evolve in recent years. It can now be considered as a sustainable fishery in which all stakeholders work together. The governance that has been established is an example of co-management where professionals work together with the administration and scientists.

The surveys conducted within the framework of the GIFS Project (Picault et al., 2014) allowed to summarise the principal means by which the existing structures contribute to the environmental, socio-cultural and economic sustainability of the fishery.

The environmental dimension, first item of the sustainable development triptych, is one of the pillars of this fishery and its governance. The fishery exploits a healthy stock which has also led to the MSC certification of the fishery. In addition, fishermen show respect for the resource, resulting in a better understanding of the latter and a communication of information on their best practices. An analysis conducted on this fishery in 2011[9] pointed out a lack of scientific data to monitor the stock. Since then, the MSC certification has allowed actors to improve on this aspect by creating a specific working group on knowledge of the lobster resource by increasing, for example, the gathering of scientific data. The socio-cultural aspect, another key element of sustainable development, is present within the fishing community and is underlined by the existence of a healthy working environment with many interactions with other sectors, other communities. There is a strong will from fishermen to develop the economy of their trade by advertising the fact that this fishery is managed in a reasoned manner with quality and eco-labelled products. The means used by the lobster fishermen community are, for example, staging festivals enabling them to communicate on the trade, the fishing methods, and enhance the value of lobsters caught in the Granville Bay. Finally, the economic dimension, last pillar of sustainable development, is essential for fishing businesses that exploit this resource. The fishermen’s income comes from the sale of the catch on the basis of two factors: the quantity and the selling prices. The quantity that is landed partly depends on the resource which, through effective local management, is preserved. The price, however, is a function of supply and demand at the time of the sale. Certain fishermen, to increase the selling price, and thereby their income, sell their catch directly on the markets or to restaurants, which also enables them to communicate on their trade. At the level of the lobster fishermen community, valuation steps were put in place to sell at a better price, such as the MSC eco-label or the collective mark “lobster of Cotentin” (homard du Cotentin).

These different dimensions of sustainable development are an integral part of the local management of this fishery. Members of the community of lobster fishermen and various associated stakeholders are attempting to secure the future of the fleet on the basis of co-management. This governance allows fishermen to benefit from local regulations that are pertinent to their needs and to the sustainability of the fishery, notably with the development of management tools such as licenses for example. The management of this fishery is atypical because the Granville Bay is a cross-border area within which French and Jersey fishermen cohabit. Both communities have established a shared resource management with the creation of the Granville Bay Joint Management Committee (Comité consultatif conjoint de gestion de la baie de Granville), which is a pioneering example of cross-border fisheries management. Relationships and partnerships that are maintained between all actors are a solid foundation for the future of the fishery. Despite all this and according to the survey respondents, there are some limitations to this governance. • At the fishery level Despite the efforts made over the past five years, the management system of the fishery at the Granville Bay level has not allowed a full harmonisation of regulations between Jersey and France. Between the two countries still linger regulatory disparities that discriminate against some fishermen in terms of fishing capacity. It is therefore important for the representatives of fishermen to be involved in the management Committees so as to defend their views. Currently, these appointed representatives are fulfilling their role perfectly. However, according to those surveyed, few people wish to represent the community of lobster fishermen in the future, or to get involved in occupational structures. There is a certain neglect of key representation positions of the sector, which will be problematical in the medium term to defend and make the voice of fishermen heard at the local as well as national level. Finally, according to the fishermen, elected representatives of the Manche department are not sufficiently invested in maritime activities. Fishermen do not always feel supported politically. • At the national and European level At the national and European level, this small scale fishery and its representatives are struggling to make their voice heard. Yet, even if it is managed at the local level, it is forced to comply with the regulatory constraints of the European Union, in particular through the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). In addition, fishermen operate in a space where uses are increasingly diversified and where conflicts of use are multiplying. As a result, they fear a loss of support from political bodies in favour of other sectors.


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