Fishing in France

p. 339

People who live on the coasts of France have been fishermen for many centuries. Fishermen were among the first people to come to France. They fished along the Atlantic coast for many years.

From the 15th century on, fleets of fishing boats set sail from ports on the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. They had a huge market, for the Catholic church had decreed that on many days of the year Catholics could not eat meat. The fishermen had no trouble finding plenty of fish. The Atlantic teemed with cod and other fishes, and the Mediterranean supplied sardines and varieties of larger fish.

. Why was fishing important in France long ago?

In this century, things have changed. There are fewer days when Catholics eat fish instead of meat. In addition, so many boats have fished the Atlantic and the Mediterranean for so long that the supply of fish is running out. Countries also want to protect fish near their coasts, so many have declared fishing limits as far out into the ocean as 370 km. French fishermen are no longer welcome near Great Britain or Scandinavia or in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The costs of fishing are rising, but the prices offered for fish are not.

For all these reasons, fewer than 1 French worker in 1000 works as a fisherman today. Still, the catch is important. French fishermen supply thousands of tonnes of sardines, cod, whiting, coalfish, tuna and mackerel every year. They also provide shrimp, crabs and oysters to the fish markets and processing plants.

Oyster farming is an important part of the fishing industry in France. Oyster farmers grow and harvest oysters in special beds along the seacoast of Brittany and the Atlantic shores from Nantes to Bordeaux. They do not have the problems that fishermen do. Oysters are a very popular food in France, and the demand for them is growing. In addition, oyster farmers do not have to go out into the ocean to find oysters. Instead they grow them from tiny oysters that they attach to tiles along the seacoast of Brittany. When the oysters grow to a certain size, they are moved to another area, where the oyster farmers take care of them until they are ready to be harvested and prepared for market. The oysters are shipped as quickly as possible-they must be eaten fresh because they spoil so quickly, and in fact people usually eat them alive.

. Why is oyster farming an important part of the fishing industry in France