The European Court of Justice condemns France for using driftnets

The marine conservation organization notes that Italy faces a similar process and is home to more than 150 pirate boats that continue to use this illegal gear

Press Release Date: May 13, 2010

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: | tel.: Marta Madina

Oceana welcomes today’s ruling by the European Court of Justice condemning France for the use of illegal driftnets to catch bluefin tuna. The European Commission denounced the State of France in December 2007 for not controlling or inspecting the use of illegal driftnets, and for not taking sanctioning measures against the offending vessels.


For the past few years, Oceana has been actively carrying out a campaign against driftnet use in the Mediterranean. For France, which the marine conservation organization has denounced multiple times, the case is now finally closed.


Xavier Pastor, Executive Director for Oceana in Europe, declared his satisfaction with the European court’s ruling: “This sentence represents a victory against the use of this illegal fishing gear, prohibited in the European Union since 2002.” He also pointed out that a similar process is being taken out against Italy: “We are hoping for a similar ruling for Italy, where we’ve denounced more than 150 boats that continue to use illegal driftnets, after having received subsidies to convert to other gears. Italy has recently had to return 7.7 million euros to the EU for this fraud.”


Driftnets were used in France under the name “thonaille” until 2007 to catch juvenile bluefin tuna. Oceana denounced these vessels in multiple manners. In 2007, these vessels attacked the Oceana Ranger catamaran on the high seas, a situation which had to finally be resolved with the intervention of the authorities.


Video: Oceana Ranger attacked by French driftnetters


Thonaille: the use of driftnets by the French fleet in the Mediterranean 2007


Thonaille: the use of driftnets by the French fleet in the Mediterranean 2006


Judgement of the Court of Justice