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7.3 FRANCE


7.3.1 Catches

French catches of Elasmobranchii amount to 2.7% of total French landings and to 2.9% of world chondrichthyan catches. In 1997 French landings of Elasmobranchii were 22 540 tonnes, 28.1% more than 1950 (17 600 tonnes). This increase was not regular: the annual average catch in the 1950s was 22 400 tonnes, in the 1960s 30 900 tonnes, in the 1970s 26 600 tonnes and in the 1980s it rose to 35 100 tonnes. The peak year was registered in 1981 with more than 42 000 tonnes. From 1987 catches began to decline sharply to reach 21 600 tonnes in 1995, from which they have recovered slightly.

Figure 74 French elasmobranch catches by species in 1 000 tonnes (1950-1997)

Source: FAO - FIDI.

French elasmobranch landings are particularly varied and France reports about 20 species of sharks and rajiformes to FAO. Squalidae represents the largest group of shark species caught by French vessels, with picked dogfish as the major identified shark species. In 1997 picked dogfish catches were 1 730 tonnes. There has been a drastic drop in these landings in the last few years. Catches by species have only been reported in detail since 1978. In that year picked dogfish catches were 8 100 tonnes, increasing to peak at 14 300 tonnes in 1981 but then declined gradually to a low of 1 350 tonnes in 1995. There has been growth in captures of Squalidae and Scyliorhinidae from 3 700 tonnes in 1978 to 7 800 tonnes in 1997. Captures of blue sharks have increased from 4 tonnes in 1978 to 285 tonnes in 1997, peaking at 360 tonnes in 1994. Catches of porbeagle have shown several ups and downs, from a peak of 1 100 tonnes in 1979 to a low of 250 tonnes in 1985. In 1997 they were 280 tonnes. In the same year catches of tope sharks were 410 tonnes and smooth-hounds nei were 580 tonnes.

In 1997 other major shark species reported by FAO statistics were “dogfish sharks nei” (200 tonnes), angelsharks/sand devils (3 tonnes). “Elasmobranch not identified” amounted to 270 tonnes and total and rajiformes to 10 990 tonnes.

The most prevalent shark species caught by French vessels now are catsharks, mainly Scyliorhinus canicula with small amounts of S. stellaris, followed by picked dogfish. Catsharks are mainly caught as bycatch in trawler and longline fisheries, while picked dogfish are mostly captured by directed fisheries. Other shark species, such as porbeagles, are harvested either incidentally or in limited target fisheries. Catches of tope sharks, smooth-hounds (Mustelus mustelus and M. asterias), shortfin mako and thresher shark are reported. According to Kreuzer and Ahmed[126], tiger sharks are also caught. The expansion by large trawlers into deep-water areas in the last few years has increased the bycatch of deepwater shark species as leafscale gulper shark (Centrophorus squamosus) and Portuguese dogfish (Centroscymnus coelolepis)[127]. This latter species is particularly important for its liver oil and squalene.

The vast majority (99.6%) of French elasmobranch catches come from the Northeast Atlantic, from the Faeroe Islands to the Azores but mainly in the Irish Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea and the northern part of the Bay of Biscay. Only 0.4% comes from the Mediterranean and negligible quantities from the Southwest and Northwest Atlantic. No data are reported for landings in the Indian Ocean, where French tuna vessels primarily operate. Brittany and Normandy yield 80% of French production. The major ports involved are Lorient, Cherbourg, Concarneau and Douarnenez.

Figure 75 French elasmobranch catches by fishing areas in 1 000 tonnes (1950-1997)

Source: FAO - FIDI.

7.3.2 Markets and trade

France is the largest consumer of shark and skate meat in Europe, provided by domestic landings and imports. French production of elasmobranch has been recorded in FAO statistics from 1976 to 1992 and has always been rather scanty. France is the second largest importer of shark meat in the world after Italy. French imports have increased substantially since 1976 when they were at 4 700 tonnes, worth US$6 million. This growth was not regular and imports were particularly significant in the mid/late 1980s, peaking at 10 100 tonnes in 1988. A period of decline was experienced from 1992 to 1995, followed by growth of 18.8% in 1996, a decrease of 10.8% in 1997 and a further decline of 16.9% in 1998. According to EUROSTAT data, France is the principal importer of dogfish in Europe. As reported by DNSCE (Direction Nationale des Statistiques du Commerce Extérieur), in 1998 France imported nearly 6 100 tonnes of sharks, worth US$17.7 million. Picked dogfish constituted 87.4% of these imports, 3.4% were catsharks and 9.2% were other shark species. The French began to consume picked dogfish after the Second World War. According to Gauld[128], this new French market for dogfish helped to expand and establish the fishery for picked dogfish by Norway and the UK, who were major suppliers to France until a few years ago. In 1975 France imported 4 600 tonnes of sharks, worth US$5.6 million, of which 2 800 tonnes (US$3.3 million) were from Norway and 1 400 tonnes (US$1.8 million) from the UK. In the following years other significant exporters to France were Turkey, Ireland and Japan. The great bulk of French imports now come from the USA. In 1998 these amounted to 4 500 tonnes, worth US$13.0 million, representing 73.3% of the total volume of shark imports. Other noteworthy suppliers were the UK (690 tonnes, US$3.3 million), Canada (282 tonnes, US$622 000), Faeroe Islands (116 tonnes, US$ 331 000), Denmark (79 tonnes, US$287 000) and Ireland (71 tonnes US$127 000).

Figure 76 French shark imports by product forms in tonnes

Source: EUROSTAT/ DNSCE.

The USA steadily and substantially expanded its exports of shark to France until 1996. In 1988 they amounted to 800 tonnes, in 1992 4 500 tonnes and in 1996 6 700 tonnes, worth US$15.4 million. In the following two years they substantially declined. In 1998 shark imports from the USA consisted of 1 990 tonnes fresh and 2 340 tonnes frozen picked dogfish, 1 tonne of frozen catsharks and 116 tonnes of dogfish and catshark fillets.

In 1998 the UK exported 690 tonnes of sharks to France of which nearly 650 tonnes were fresh (345 tonnes of picked dogfish, 185 tonnes of catsharks and 120 tonnes of other sharks) and 40 tonnes were frozen (10 tonnes as whole and 30 tonnes as fillets). In 1998 UK represented the major supplier of catsharks to France.

Figure 77 French shark imports by country of origin in tonnes

Source: EUROSTAT/ DNSCE.

In 1998 3 120 tonnes of fresh sharks were imported, worth US$11.2 million, of which 2 560 tonnes (US$9.6 million) were picked dogfish, 200 tonnes (US$507 650) catsharks and 360 tonnes (US$1.1 million) other sharks. Nearly 2 800 tonnes of frozen sharks were imported, worth US$5.9 million, composed of 2 640 tonnes (US$5.7 million) of picked dogfish, 9 tonnes (US$15 900) of catsharks and 130 tonnes (US$204 400) of other sharks. Frozen fillets imported amounted to 184 tonnes, worth US$611 100: 121 tonnes of picked dogfish and catsharks and 63 tonnes of other sharks.

The great bulk of French imports consist of backs and whole (head-off, tail-off, skin-off, gutted) carcasses. Imports are very seasonal, with a peak in autumn. The main species favoured are picked dogfish, small spotted catshark and porbeagle, followed by smooth-hound, nursehound and tope sharks. Fresh dogfish is the preferred market option; frozen has a much lower price profile.

Figure 78 French shark imports by species in tonnes

Source: EUROSTAT/ DNSCE.

Sharks are often marketed in France under a number of euphemisms. Picked dogfish (aiguillat or chien de mer), smooth-hound (emissole) and tope sharks are usually commercialised as chiens. The skinless meat of these species and of small-spotted catshark and nursehound are marketed as saumonette, which sounds similar to salmon (saumon) in French. This name is due to their meat, skinless, head-off and gutted, being light pink. Small-spotted catsharks and nursehound are also marketed as, respectively, petite roussette and grande roussette. Porbeagle shark is usually sold gutted and head off and is commercialised as taupe or veau de mer. This species is sold mainly for export, to Italy primarily, as are tope sharks and smooth-hound.

Shark meat is consumed all over the country but with less demand in the centre and south. Normandy and Brittany, which harvest most French Elasmobranchii, are also the major consumers. Shark meat is consumed more in restaurants than at home. Shark meat is easily available in shops, supermarkets and hypermarkets. Its relatively accessible price and the absence of bones have favoured its use in catering for large groups such as schools, cafeterias and hospitals.

Fresh and frozen meat are preferred on the French market. Other shark products are not highly valued. The Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER) tried to promote the consumption of smoked meat but this was not a great success.

Three factors have an impact on dogfish prices in France: quality, competition between traders and their relative positions in supplying the Italian market, as dogfish obtains higher prices in Italy.

In November 1998, the cif prices for skinless backs of picked dogfish, origin USA, were US$2.09/kg for grades more than 400 gr/pc and US$2.38/kg for 400-800 gr/pc. In February 1999, average wholesale prices in Rungis were US$5.53/kg for medium dogfish, foreign origin and US$5.61/kg for frozen dogfish, foreign origin. The following figure shows four price series for fresh and frozen dogfish at the wholesale market of Rungis (Paris) from January 1990 to May 1999.

Figure 79 Rungis wholesale prices for dogfish in FRF/kg

Source: MAREE.

Figure 80 French shark exports by product forms in tonnes

Source: EUROSTAT/ DNSCE.

In 1998 France exported 1 130 tonnes of sharks, valued at US$5.2 million. The Italian market absorbs the great bulk of French shark exports as it pays the highest prices. France exports picked dogfish, catsharks, porbeagle, smooth-hound and tope sharks to Italy. In 1991 there was a substantial decrease in exports to Italy due to finding a high mercury content in the fish. French exports to Italy remained rather limited for several years and only exceeded 1 000 tonnes again in 1996. In 1998 France exported nearly 900 tonnes (US$4.3 million) to Italy of which 870 tonnes were fresh sharks (400 tonnes of dogfish, 135 tonnes of catsharks and 335 tonnes of other sharks) and 14 tonnes were frozen (12 tonnes picked dogfish and 2 tonnes other shark fillets). Porbeagle are particularly appreciated in Italy and their export prices are higher than those of catsharks and picked dogfish.

France also exports sharks to Belgium and Spain. Exports to Spain exceeded 2 000 tonnes in 1993 but this has declined to only 73 tonnes in 1998. There have also been re-exports of imported picked dogfish to Italy and Spain since 1994.

Figure 81 French shark exports by species in tonnes

Source: EUROSTAT/ DNSCE.

Figure 82 French shark exports by country of destination in tonnes

Source: EUROSTAT/ DNSCE.

There is demand for shark fins among the population of Chinese origin. Fins are available in France as dried fin noodles, dried fin products, and canned fin soup. These products are imported from Asian countries, mainly Singapore and Hong Kong.

Shark cartilage capsules have been introduced to the French market from the USA.

French companies use shark liver oil and squalene in the manufacture of cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. Liver oil is used in the production of perfumery and cosmetics such as milk, lotions, creams and oil for the skin and hair.

Shark leather is used in the production of luxury items such as handbags, wallets and jewellery.

Table 49 French elasmobranch catches by species in tonnes


1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

1957

1958

1959

Dogfishes and hounds nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Cuckoo ray

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Raja rays nei

13 400

13 400

13 000

14 300

13 600

14 800

15 100

15 100

15 100

15 100

Thornback ray

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Picked dogfish

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Spotted ray

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Smooth- hounds nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Tope shark

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Longnosed skate

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Blue skate

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Blue shark

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Porbeagle

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Sharks, rays, skates, etc. nei

4 200

5 200

7 400

7 900

8 300

7 300

13 200

8 500

9 400

9 400

Dogfish sharks nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Rays, stingrays, mantas nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Shagreen ray

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Torpedo rays

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Angelsharks, sand devils nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Eagle rays

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Basking shark

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Total

17 600

18 600

20 400

22 200

21 900

22 100

28 300

23 600

24 500

24 500


1960

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

1968

1969

Dogfishes and hounds nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Cuckoo ray

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Raja rays nei

16 500

17 000

15 600

15 800

15 300

15 800

15 800

14 800

14 400

15 300

Thornback ray

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Picked dogfish

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Spotted ray

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Smooth- hounds nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Tope shark

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Longnosed skate

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Blue skate

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Blue shark

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Porbeagle

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Sharks, rays, skates, etc. nei

9 800

10 300

10 700

12 300

14 200

18 800

20 200

17 900

12 600

23 400

Dogfish sharks nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Rays, stingrays, mantas nei

-

-

-

-

400

300

300

400

400

400

Shagreen ray

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Torpedo rays

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Angelsharks, sand devils nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Eagle rays

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Basking shark

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Total

26 300

27 300

26 300

28 100

29 900

34 900

36 300

33 100

27 400

39 100

Table 49 French elasmobranch catches by species in tonnes (continued)


1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976

1977

1978

1979

Dogfishes and hounds nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

3 676

5 621

Cuckoo ray

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

479

Raja rays nei

13 200

13 300

12 500

13 265

11 972

11 646

12 035

12 125

10 584

9 574

Thornback ray

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

583

2 260

Picked dogfish

-

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

8 098

9 066

Spotted ray

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

94

80

Smooth- hounds nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

37

22

Tope shark

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Longnosed skate

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Blue skate

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

983

306

Blue shark

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

4

12

Porbeagle

-

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

833

1 092

Sharks, rays, skates, etc. nei

14 600

11 500

12 800

13 700

13 285

11 982

14 370

10 963

2 564

2 835

Dogfish sharks nei

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

96

481

Rays, stingrays, mantas nei

400

400

400

400

325

303

259

201

237

96

Shagreen ray

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Torpedo rays

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Angelsharks, sand devils nei

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

24

19

Eagle rays

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Basking shark

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

28 200

25 200

25 700

27 365

25 582

23 931

26 664

23 289

27 813

31 943


1980

1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

Dogfishes and hounds nei

5 475

-

6 318

7 133

5 974

6 017

7 519

6 767

7 707

6 292

Cuckoo ray

493

-

1 642

2 735

3 948

5 835

5 862

5 315

5 145

5 283

Raja rays nei

10 299

21 744

7 343

7 741

7 059

4 029

4 592

4 859

5 428

4 098

Thornback ray

1 951

-

3 006

2 017

1 910

3 417

3 544

3 079

2 970

2 553

Picked dogfish

11 627

14 259

12 006

14 901

12 474

11 109

10 941

13 523

9 892

5 701

Spotted ray

0

-

115

200

438

939

1 180

757

943

896

Smooth- hounds nei

24

11

9

356

197

190

309

351

295

274

Tope shark

-

-

-

1 669

478

422

1 257

602

705

465

Longnosed skate

0

-

19

104

102

71

-

200

94

143

Blue skate

259

-

196

144

177

326

438

386

356

376

Blue shark

12

-

9

8

14

39

50

67

91

83

Porbeagle

896

768

198

792

411

254

260

280

446

351

Sharks, rays, skates, etc. nei

3 445

4 999

1 468

440

316

254

245

243

216

318

Dogfish sharks nei

201

-

173

252

61

93

90

101

27

237

Rays, stingrays, mantas nei

311

252

279

271

263

13

10

6

0

215

Shagreen ray

0

-

-

372

113

89

43

67

63

88

Torpedo rays

0

0

0

0

1

6

11

1

4

14

Angelsharks, sand devils nei

25

-

20

15

14

31

18

18

15

10

Eagle rays

8

-

-

21

11

9

9

12

3

9

Basking shark

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

35 026

42 033

32 801

39 171

33 961

33 143

36 378

36 634

34 400

27 406

Table 49 French elasmobranch catches by species in tonnes (continued)


1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997



Dogfishes and hounds nei

6 145

5 995

5 248

5 035

5 842

7 418

7 790

7 795



Cuckoo ray

4 984

4 353

3 676

3 058

3 371

3 762

4 076

4 084



Raja rays nei

4 474

4 368

3 709

3 815

3 384

3 183

3 344

3 354



Thornback ray

2 608

2 618

2 255

1 754

1 584

1 749

1 767

1 763



Picked dogfish

4 144

3 553

2 435

1 940

1 687

1 349

1 378

1 734



Spotted ray

933

998

1 172

1 127

959

925

980

983



Smooth- hounds nei

277

348

305

305

358

414

574

582



Tope shark

415

454

279

299

309

317

350

411



Longnosed skate

162

265

393

396

354

359

349

354



Blue skate

391

321

266

254

249

285

308

304



Blue shark

135

193

276

329

358

266

302

285



Porbeagle

561

309

496

643

828

565

305

276



Sharks, rays, skates, etc. nei

745

1 278

3 291

3 628

2 598

752

289

266



Dogfish sharks nei

150

669

623

374

200

174

119

199



Rays, stingrays, mantas nei

174

198

172

135

108

20

84

78



Shagreen ray

112

75

88

77

59

51

47

50



Torpedo rays

18

19

15

22

23

20

20

17



Angelsharks, sand devils nei

7

5

1

3

3

2

1

3



Eagle rays

4

5

5

4

3

2

1

1



Basking shark

0

0

0

0

0

-

-

-



Total

26 439

26 024

24 705

23 198

22 277

21 613

22 084

22 539



Source: FAO - FIDI.


[126 ]KREUZER R., AHMED R., idem.
[127 ]OLIVER A., “An overview of the impacts of the biological status of sharks”, discussion paper pursuant to CITES resolution conf. 9.17 for the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, 9-20 June 1997, Harare, Zimbabwe, 1997.
[128 ]GAULD J.A., “The dogfish - an ocean rover” In Scottish Fisheries Bulletin, 47:13-16, 1982.

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