Green news in France: April 2020

A monthly update on environmental events and occurrences in France: Overfishing issues, a gas bus, pomme pesticidesand in-jean-ious insulation

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French boats are overfishing, says report

More than a third of the fish caught by French trawlers are overfished, according to research published by the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer).

In its study “on the ecological state of fish caught in mainland France”, Ifremer said it was particularly concerned about the “collapse” of the cod and whiting population and overfishing in the North Sea, Mediterranean and the Atlantic, where mackerel is also being overfished.

Reproduction “is insufficient for the renewal of these populations, without leading to the extinction of the species,” warned Ifremer.

It added, however, that stocks of monkfish, scallops, anchovies and hake are in “good condition” in the North Sea and Bay of Biscay, and that in 2019, 49% of the volume of fish caught in France came from sustainably exploited stocks, compared with just 15% two decades ago.

All aboard the gas bus

The city of Nîmes (Gard) has taken delivery of nine new €290,000 buses, made in France by (Italian firm) Iveco, which are powered by natural gas.

“These buses are a response to our desire to try to get away from diesel,” said Yvan Lachaud, the President of Nîmes Métropole.

Stickers on the buses read: “Respirez. Je roule au biométhane” (“Breathe. I run on biomethane.”)

Customer comfort has not been overlooked just because the buses are eco-friendly – the 23-seaters, which have total capacity for 100 passengers, feature USB sockets, powerful air conditioning and an optimised access ramp for limited mobility passengers.

Reducing effects of pomme pesticides

After a three-year consultation period, apple producers in the Limousin have agreed a new code of practice around pesticide usage, it was announced at February’s general assembly of the Pomme du Limousin AOC organisation.

Among the measures being implemented are the planting of new hedgerows to prevent the spread of chemicals during spraying (27 kilometres of hedges have been planted in Haute-Vienne, Corrèze and neighbouring Dordogne), as well as a new mobile phone application aimed at warning hikers when orchard spraying is imminent.

The app, called Phyto-Alerte, was created by a Brive firm.

33 new windsocks are also on order, to help farmers to judge wind speed before spraying near homes.

An in-jean-ious insulation idea

A French firm has taken the concept of recycling clothes one step further – by making insulation bricks out of shredded old t-shirts and jeans.

FabBRICK is the brainchild of architect Clarisse Merlet, who told Franceinfo: “It is urgent and very important to find new outlets for recycling clothes.”

In keeping with her zero-waste ethos, Ms Merlet invented a machine to compress the bricks (the equivalent of two t-shirts) that does not use any energy.

Since the project’s inception, FabBRICK has made 12,000 bricks, which represents around five tonnes of recycled textiles.

Every year, in Europe alone, 4 million tons of clothing textiles are thrown away.