Synergies of fishing tourism on the coasts of the English Channel: State of play and diagnosis

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Synergies of fishing tourism on the coasts of the English Channel: State of play and diagnosis

The study presented[1] is realised as a part of GIFS. The objective is to present an overview of sites of collaborating fishing with tourism along the shores of the English Channel and to identify incentives and obstacles for the development of these activities.

A first survey was carried out by contacting various tourism stakeholders, the groups are focused on 4 of the FEP (FLAG) and other media using information to identify projects and involving actors. Secondly, in-depth interviews were conducted with stakeholders. The semi-structured interviews were used to discuss various topics such as the purpose and origin of the subject, interest in the development of this type of collaboration and the incentives or difficulties encountered in the implementation of gateways between these two sectors.

In the first inventory, various valuable tourist activities with coastal fisheries have been identified. The list here is not complete; the choice was to focus the study on the activities where fisheries stakeholders are involved:

  • Activities of diversification set up by fishermen and which has supported fisheries;
  • Activities where fishermen are actors among others (involvement of other regional players, politicians etc.);
  • Activities proposed by tourism stakeholders and which serves for both fishing and tourism.

These activities are thus characterized by different degrees of involvement of the fishermen.

Five activities were selected and further analyzed in detail: direct sales, pescatourism, maritime festivals, visits of fish markets and fishing towns.

Direct sales

Direct selling of fish remains a traditional activity present all along the coast of the eastern Channel. However, it is not organized in the same way everywhere. To the east of the channel, that is to say, from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais to Lower Normandy, there is a dominance of permanent market stalls, either in bigger cities (Boulogne-sur-Mer, Dieppe) or smaller (Etaples, Crotoy). We also note the presence of many small stalls on the beaches of Normandy, especially due to the landing of Doris, small traditional boats.

To the west of the English Channel up to Brittany, direct selling is less organized. This activity has the advantage of “the boat ass" for the most regular customers. No doubt this is due to the presence of a larger network in this area, including a large number of fish markets. Finally, the distribution network is different.

More generally, we observe a major attraction of direct sales face to face with the fishermen, particularly related to the economic context of the fishing itself which is becoming more difficult.

Fig1 synergies.jpg

Figure 1 - Direct sale


As we saw in the surveys, the list of activities of fishing-tourism at the English Channel is not complete. Two types of approaches exist: individual or collective initiatives. The fishing-tourism exists already for several decades on the coastal ports of the Channel. Until 2006, it required only a permit to ship one or two people (CDPMEM Bretagne). In 2006, the CEO Michelin, friend of a skipper at Audierne, froze at sea during bass fishing. From then on, the activity of fishing-tourism was completely redesigned to be better managed and regulated. The regulations also specify the obligations relating to the safety of ships and the boarding passengers. Indeed, the interviews emphasized that although there is a real potential for development of fishing-tourism, regulations appear to be a major obstacle for the development of the activity, discouraging most fishermen interested.

Maritime Festivals and Celebrations

There are three types of festivities:

  • The festivals that celebrate the maritime heritage. Often around an ancient technique of fishing including Flobart or Earth-Neuvas.
  • The celebration organized around a specific product. This is for example the case of herring holidays in Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Upper Normandy. Further down along the coast, more and more festivals focus on the coquille Saint-Jacques scallop. Lastly, the English Channel and Britain have various festivals around the lobster, whelks, crab and langoustine. This type of celebration is newer and does not necessarily take place during the tourist season.
  • The blessings of the sea. Present all along the coast, these traditional and popular festivals are a tribute to the missing men at sea.

Fig2 synergies.jpg

Figure 2 - Celebration of the Coquille Saint-Jacques at Erquy

Visits of fish markets

Visits of fish markets are mainly offered by tourism stakeholders, often as part of a partnership between managers of fish markets and tourist offices. These group tours attract many tourists. An explanation may be the overview of the offer when visiting the complexes.

Fig3 synergies.jpg

Figure 3 - Visit and sell of the coquille Saint-Jacques at the fish market of Erquy.

Fishing town

There are two main fishing cities at the coast of the English Channel: Haliotika at Guilvinec and Maréis at Etaples. Being centers for the discovery of fishing, these two were often cited as examples in terms of synergy of fishing and tourism. Haliotika and Maréis play an important role for the improvement of synergy of fisheries with tourists thanks to the diversity of their activities and the richness of their respective exposures.

Conclusion, the tourist fishing activities are present all along the coast with a certain dynamic in Bretagne. There are probably other activities but there may be a lack of communication which does not allow them to report. New initiatives are emerging as networks of participants around the sea especially moved by the AOCD as the "superior sea" as well as reflections around the coastal roads or the seashells.

Diagnose of synergies of tourist fishing

Once completed the inventory, the interviews were analyzed to establish a diagnosis of fishing tourism synergies, which helped to identify obstacles and success factors for the development of their activities. Results of experiments have highlighted several key points for the proper functioning of these synergies because there are several ways to do it.

The obstacles identified

Obstacles to the development of fishing tourism synergies lie mainly within the camp of the fishermen. First of all it should be remembered that tourism activities are extra divergent activities for the fishermen itself. The fishing business has to support these activities, which account only for a small share of the revenue. During interviews, the fisheries stakeholders mention often the regulations as the first barrier to touristic expansion of their business (fishing-tourism, company visits or direct sales…). The limitations can be overcome but with many financial investments. Major investments and limited short-term benefits discourage fishermen to embark on such a project. "The fishing industry is not 100% in the touristic approach. They are above all fishermen; they cannot focus on more. Their job is already taking."

With the tourism stakeholders, the interviews highlighted limits of several kinds. First of all, fishing is a minor activity in this sector. The touristic market related to fishing is a niche that is not part of the regional tourism plan. According to the interviews, the stakeholders of this sector do not know to who they need to approach, unlike the freshwater fishing. They are not used to work with the fishing industry and sometimes find it difficult to work with fishermen.

The difficulties are not just about the two central actors in these synergies. They also exist on the level of territory. Today, there is a lack of political guidance for synergies fishing on coastal tourism. According to those people, encountered in certain regions / states, it lacks a political framework to be able to provide a territorial boost which clearly identifies the structures who to approach to get territorial supporting (financial or regulatory...). The people we met are in perfect condition, but in some cases, a lack of attention from regional stakeholders is present.

Factors of Success

There is no single recipe, but several ingredients. Based on the interviews, one of the keys to success is the dynamics of local fisheries stakeholders and tourism. Projects that have led to this reported a collective movement to drive more projects and used the skills of each person (communication, knowledge of fishing ...). These projects have not been achieved alone. There was always a very good guiding by the various stakeholders.

Another key to success discussed in the interviews is the presence of structures that are gathered for the project leaders:

  • Create an emulsion and assist to set up projects (eg role of FLAG)
  • Carrying projects and manage the administrative aspects (eg Mareis, Haliotika)
  • Create a local, regional network: reconciliation of actors, exchange of experiences (eg AOCD, SIBA, CCI).

There is usually no need to create new structures. We can make a link with agriculture and the dominant role of the Chamber of Agriculture in the farmhouse.

Finally, the strategies implemented through public policies can promote interactions between fishing and tourism. This can be done by setting guidelines for development that lead to cooperation between these two sectors. In this sense, public policy can play a leading role, contributing to the implementation of joint projects and the creation of synergies between fishing and tourism.


The fishing-tourism synergies are part of the experimental tourism market. There is a growing demand in terms of direct sales, fishing-tourism or visits of fish markets. For now, the offer is limited. There is a potential opportunity to grow if everyone works together (tourism, fishing, government, local authorities).


  1. FORATO Guillemette, LESUEUR Marie, PICAULT David, 2014. Les synergies pêche-tourisme sur les côtes de la Manche (France) – État des lieux et diagnostic. Rapport d'étude. Les publications du Pôle Halieutique AGROCAMPUS OUEST n°26, 50 p.