Promoting sustainable fisheries and supporting local communities in diversifying their economies and creating new jobs are key priorities of the EU’s common fisheries policy. The EU-funded project Terre et Mer (land and sea), in the Hérault department in southern France, does all of the above and goes one step further, advocating inclusion in the job market.
Some years ago, the management of the Criée (fish market) of Grau d'Agde noticed that certain species of lesser-known fishes were harder to sell, but also that large unexpected influxes of catches could go unsold. Despite the excellent quality of the produce, there was the risk of some of it going to waste. In the same region, the Red Cross (through its subsidiary Capdife), was active in workplace integration with four organic vegetables farming sites. The Criée and Red Cross had complementary objectives: a more efficient marketing of fish and better promotion of fishery resources, on the one hand, and the promotion of inclusive employment, on the other. Therefore, they decided to join forces and created in May 2019 Terre et Mer, a seafood processing and social integration enterprise. However, EU-funding was vital. The money “made it possible to concretise the project that we had had since 2014. The financial support provided has enabled us to set up a seafood processing workshop and to create our commercial brand: the Terr'iodée brand - l'occitane gourmande et solidaire, which is distributed in supermarkets and specialist shops in the Hérault and Gard regions,” explains Aurélie Dessein, the project promoter.
Terre et Mer manufactures and markets ready-to-cook, ready-to-eat fish. Its purpose is to enhance the value of Agde fisheries products: lesser-known fish species are on sale, ready to be eaten or cooked, less than 16 hours after they have been caught. Surplus catches are processed and frozen, and put on the market, when it is no longer their fishing season: currently, the available products are skate, mackerel, hake, capelin, red mullet and octopus. There are six species of fish in the "ready-to-cook" range, and a total of 24 fresh and frozen products. Frozen seafood is supplied to local canteens of schools and retirement homes, and to restaurants, and will in the future also be made available to the public in normal retail. The project includes a third component, associating seafood products and vegetables from organic farming through the common Capdife trademark.
The project does not compete with fishmongers or local distribution channels but responds to consumer demand for ready-made meals while encouraging locals to eat locally caught seafood. This contributes to economic activity in the region. Through its operations, Terre et Mer supports unemployed, marginalized citizens to gain work experience and skills in the seafood processing laboratory set up in the Criée of Grau d’Agde. Terre et Mer has created seven new jobs (five previously unemployed people under the supervision of a Production Manager and a Development Manager). Currently, 15 tonnes per year of frozen products leave the processing laboratory, and 60 tonnes of fresh seafood are going to be processed annually by 2021.
The EU funding has supported a project with three significant objectives: sustainability, since Terre et Mar absorbs fish catches that would otherwise have been wasted and distributes them locally; economic and territorial development, and eventually solidarity as it succeeds in integrating disadvantaged citizens in the job market with training and employment opportunities.
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- Publication date
- 28 January 2021
- Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries