Angry French Fisherman

On the wire from Oceana (Europe)…

Just a few weeks into our summer-long expedition, the crew of Oceana’s Ranger experienced an intense day at sea….At the time of the incident we had filmed, photographed and recorded the positions and catch of about 80 French illegal driftnetters…Seven ships coordinated their attack by surrounding the Ranger in the Mediterranean Sea. After immobilizing our propellers, they began to hurl objects of all kind – including poisonous fish, flares and 4-letter words – and demanding the photos and videos we had collected. They even went so far as dropping their pants and making obscene gestures before attempting to ram our ship. Our crew refused to hand over the evidence and we issued a “May Day” call to the French authorities. Shortly thereafter, the Coast Guard sent two helicopters onto the scene, causing the seven ships to disperse before anyone got hurt or the ship incurred any more damage. The illegal driftnetters later had the nerve to claim that Oceana prompted the encounter and that we were the aggressive ones…Although the attack was traumatic, the fishermen ultimately aided our conservation efforts by bringing this issue into the mainstream consciousness. London’s Daily Telegraph mentioned the incident and cited it as one of several reasons for the European Union calling for a ban on bluefin tuna fishing. The article reads,”Pressure for a ban has been mounting after rampant over-fishing by France, Spain and Italy and after French boats illegally drift-netting for tuna clashed with conservationists documenting their activities in the Mediterranean.”

There is also video of the encounter here.

Dr. M (1799 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.


4 Replies to “Angry French Fisherman”

  1. One thing you may not know is that the person representing the fishermen, one Mourad Kahoul, has been elected to the Marseille city hall as a UMP candidate.

    Since the UMP is the party of the current French President, I am afraid very little prosecution is going to happen. Unless our President decides to take a principled stand… not.

    Mr Mourad Kahoul was also instrumental in kicking Greenpeace ship out of Marseille (for exactly the same reason).

  2. So this just opens the door for overfishing in the Mediterranean, which doesn’t set great precedent for other places. Sounds as though this could be classified as a”head-turner”. The person who could do something will just look the other way. How sad!

  3. Though certainly a serious issue, I can’t help but think about Monty Python and the Holy Grail when reading about the taunting Frenchmen.

  4. Everybody in France is angry, what with the way the Tour de France is imploding.

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