In Saint-Malo, a few weeks ago, three seamen who were unable to go to sea due to the lack of a mechanic on board. In all ports, ships sailing with incomplete manpower. Former bosses, who are well past retirement age, who form the “third man”… In Brittany, fishing is short of manpower. And marine cultures aren’t doing much better.
“It is urgent. All sectors are under extreme stress”, confirm Émilie Larmet and Morgane Lahay, project managers of the Cap Avenir 22 – 35 association. From Pordic (22), the structure works to promote and recruit, in Côtes- d’Armor and Ille-et-Vilaine.
Few young men, few women
The figures support the observation, highlighting a very unfavorable age pyramid. In Brittany, in August 2021, 55% of seafarers were over 40 years old. And almost 20% are over 55 years old. When we know that the legal retirement age is set precisely… at 55 years. “Often they are bosses who cannot sell and continue, or who lend a hand to the buyer”, explains Émilie Larmet.
The age of entry into the profession also illustrates the problems of recruitment and unattractive or unattractive occupations: one in two entrants is over 25! And only a third of new sailors come from a maritime school.
Last point of concern, the profession is struggling to open up to women. “Although living conditions on board ships have improved in recent years and shared wages guarantee equity, women on board remain the exception,” the Interregional Directorate for the North Sea -Atlantic Channel pointed out in 2019. -West. Women represent only 1.5% of the fishing workforce and “small fishing” (less than a day away) accounts for three quarters of the workforce. “In August 2020, there were only 19 in Brittany”, confirms Émilie Larmet.
Pillars of the blue economy
The efforts of the sectors, however, are real. More and more shipowners are launching themselves into fixed lines, in exchange for part of the salary. Mechanization, which is increasingly present in shellfish farming, reduces the difficulties. Initiatives to promote trades are multiplying. In its territory, last year, Cap Avenir organized about forty “tides of discovery”. There are professionalization contracts, alternation is full in Paimpol and Saint-Malo. Enough ? “The profession is no longer a dream”, concedes a representative of the fishing committee 22. However, for the blue economy, in Brittany, it will be necessary for fishing and marine cultures to see their future in pink…