45.8238° N • 1.1040° W

Atelier des Gens de Mer – social inclusion paying its way

What to do when, after twenty years at sea, you end up unemployed and seemingly unemployable on dry land, following an injury?

That’s what happened to Vincent. Fishing was his life, his profession, his passion.  

Fellow seafarer Samuel had to sell his boat because he could not sail anymore. Of course he tried, but alternative employment was not available for him.

There are more stories like this in Vincent’s and Samuel’s home, the famous fishing port of La Cotinière on the island of Oléron.

Fortunately, the stories do not stop here. Today, Vincent, Samuel, and the others are once again working in the fishing industry near their hometown.

And this is thanks to the Atelier des Gens de Mer (Seafarers’ workshop). Spotting a gap in the workforce – traditionally, a fishing master and his crew would use the periods spent on land to repair their boat and mend their fishing equipment, but today family time is more important to them –  they came up with the idea of employing fishermen who have been excluded from their profession because of an injury, illness or disability.

The project received EU funds to buy special equipment that would allow people like Vincent and Samuel to go back to work in the field they love and know best.

Yldau and Fabian went to work with the seafarers in their workshop for a day, learning the basics of how to repair a fishing net and listening to their stories.

It has been a very special day on their Atlantic Route, that Yldau and Fabian will not forget anytime soon.

Watch Here: a presentation video of the Atelier des Gens de Mer (French with English subtitles).

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