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Storm pounds western France, crippling fishing industry


Brittany in north-western France, already struggling after weeks of violent storms, was battered afresh Friday by Storm Ulla. Up to 90,000 households are without electricity and the region’s crucial fishing industry has been crippled.


Huge waves pounded France’s western coastline with winds reaching up to 150 km/h overnight Friday to Saturday. The powerful storm has already caused at least one death: an elderly man who was swept to his death from a cruise ship off the Breton coast.

The region’s residents are not only struggling without power, but they are also cut off due to numerous road closures across the area.

The fierce weather has not only caused devastating flooding, but also affected the region’s key fishing industry, with trawlers confined to their ports.

With 100 small ships, Le Guilvinec is one of the biggest traditional fishing ports in France, but its boats have been held in port for days.

Fishermen here are used to the slow months of winter, but report that it hasn’t been this bad for years and the local fishermen are losing money.

“We can’t go out on the sea so we don’t have any salaries,” said fisherman Johan Gueguen.

Storm is a 'catastrophe' for industry

The fishermen are not the only ones affected, with related trades and industries also being hit.

“We need fish to work. If there is no fish, we can’t serve the customers,” said René-Claude Daniel, fish market salesman.

Soizic Palmer-Le Gall, the head of a local fishing company L'Armement Bigouden, estimated that her business has lost half a million euros in missed income since the start of the year.

“It’s been a catastrophe ever since the start of February. We are losing a lot of days at sea and that means losing revenue and it’s affecting our wholesalers,” Palmer-Le Gall said.

The French government is examining the possibility of tax breaks for struggling fishermen.
In the meantime, the storm continues, and boats look set to stay put for another day.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)


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