An Alang scheme

10 Sep 2008

Within the framework of adapting the fishing fleet to the European policy, hundreds of boats will be demolished in France from now until the end of the year. Each owner receives a substantial compensation bonus from the European Union and the French State which could reach up to 600,000 €. The bonus is calculated taking into account the age of the vessel, its size, the type of fishing and the related catch quota and finally the engine’s power. The paying of this bonus is triggered by a proof of destruction or of the incapacity to navigate.

Yet, some boats are broken up by mechanical excavators within 1 h in dusty and noisy conditions without any preliminary extraction and sorting in proper containers of the electric equipment, the batteries, the accumulators, and the heat-insulator’s parts. Pipes are not totally purged and fuels are not thoroughly disposed of. This type of “round’ em up” demolition is worthy of Alang Bay, Pakistan or Bangladesh. The demolition sites will quickly become polluted followed by the harbours basins and the sediments. The toxicity of dredging sludge will increase.

Robin des Bois will ask the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, who has invited environmental organisations Thursday 11th of September, to impose as quickly as possible guidelines concerning the demolition of fishing vessels in conformity with the French and European regulations concerning waste recycling and disposal. A protocol on demolition based on an asbestos diagnostic, a PCB diagnostic and the preliminary removal and regrouping of toxic materials as well as the protection of workers and of the environment should be imposed quickly. An existing requirement for cars at the end of their life should be adapted for boats. The bonus for the breaking up of a boat should not be paid before a guarantee is provided stating that the demolition was carried out conforming to regulations. Financial compensation to fishing boat owners should not be a licence to pollute.

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