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Longfin mako shark hoisted aboard a surface longliner (Photo: courtesy Faro de Vigo)

Press Release: The surface longline in 'red alert'

Click on the flag for more information about Spain SPAIN
Sunday, September 13, 2020, 03:20 (GMT + 9)

The main organizations consider that the Ministry of Ecological Transition is not competent for fisheries management and denounce the inaction of the Ministry of Fisheries, for allowing a situation that is leading them to economic ruin, as they cannot sell or commercialize an important part of your catches.
The 4 main organizations (A Guardia, Burela-Lugo, Marín and Vigo) make a "call for help" before the Central Administration. On the one hand, the problems to commercialize the shortfin mako since its inclusion in Annex II of CITES, and on the other, the historical drop in prices of the quenlla, its main species, together with the instability in the demand for products, make a waterway in the economic viability of this fleet.
The situation is a "red alert". Most companies will not be able to last many months in this situation. Although the situation is global, the impact is more serious on the North Atlantic fleet due to its dependence on the quenlla, which represents an average of 75% of catches and 60% of income, but with prices in free fall, every day it is more difficult to survive for the 90 ships that work here.
Demand has disappeared or is very unstable, and prices are suffering a historic decline. As an example, in August the quenlla was already sold below € 0.30 / kg. Comparing prices in just one year, the price differences in the quenlla are more than 52%, and 17% in swordfish. Median earnings have fallen more than 30%. The shipowners are unanimous: "with these prices, this fleet will not last long, it is impossible to survive." If you hit any operating account, if you hit a 30% hack, in a few months companies will decapitalize and the situation becomes unsustainable.
All fleets must comply with the guidelines of the Regional Fisheries Organizations, which by international mandate are responsible for the management of fish stocks. Its recommendations affect all fishing countries and their corresponding fleets. In the case of the Atlantic, this multinational organization is ICCAT. Under its guidelines, the Spanish fleet complies with the exploitation rules of the different species, especially the shortfin mako, as well as the assumption of a National Observation Plan, which has implied a significant economic cost for companies and organizations, bringing physical observers or electronic on board, and providing data on the main species and fishing effort. The Spanish fleet is an example of compliance with these ICCAT fishing guidelines.
But the international trade of shortfin mako (SMA by its FAO code) has suffered a great complication since November 2019, after its inclusion in Annex II of CITES. Now, in addition to the Ministry of Fisheries, the Ministries of Ecological Transition (MITECO) and of Commerce (MINECO) intervene in its commercialization.
The lack of coordination and lack of understanding between the different Administrations is causing unsustainable economic consequences for the fleet.
The 4 surface longline organizations have been demanding for several months a solution to end the administrative blockade that is preventing the commercialization of this species, a situation that particularly affects the Galician fleet and is worsening the economic crisis that these small companies are suffering. because of COVID.
There are tons of porbeagle processed and stored in the refrigerators, which however cannot be sold, due to the administrative blockade caused by the Ministry of Ecological Transition, which has decided, in a totally unilateral way, and against the Fisheries criteria, to restrict the commercialization of this species, and allowing the international market to be supplied with other fleets that paradoxically had not habitually fished this species, and had not implemented the management measures that the Spanish fleet had imposed on itself.
The fleet considers that this excess of zeal and the lack of coordination between the different departments of the same administration, do nothing but harm them because this does not happen in the rest of the countries. And their efforts to expose the sustainability of the fishery, their efforts to get certified, or the launch of a global FIP are of little use. The rest of the countries are taking over the market that is taken away from this fleet since all are commercializing the porbeagle, except the Spanish fleet. Some shipowners wonder if Spain can afford the closure of so many companies, simply due to administrative incompetence.
The last straw for these organizations' patience is that MITECO has received a response to their request for an urgent meeting sent in July, in which they are called for October 15. They consider a lack of consideration and contempt, given the urgency and gravity of the situation, with hundreds of tons unsold and the economies battered, that the Administration continues to turn them off and without offering an answer.
Shipowners wonder what to do. The fishery is not closed because the management guidelines regulated by the ORP are being met, and the product cannot now be thrown into the sea, neither the one that is in the refrigerators nor on board the boats, since do this now and discard it Once gutted and frozen, it would be a real environmental attack. The solution is to document everything that is already caught and allow it a commercial outlet, and then make urgent decisions about the fishery, so the Administration is asked to act and offer urgent solutions to this serious problem created by itself.
Some of the organizations are studying different legal actions to defend a situation that they consider serious and unfair. “Both basic and essential sector, both applaud our efforts to make a sustainable fishery, and now we have no one to solve an administrative problem between different ministries, and where ministries without fishing powers are prohibiting the commercialization of sustainable legal fishing according to regulation of Regional Fishing Organizations of an International character ”.
Signatory associations:
OPP 03 - (Vigo)
OPP 07 - LUGO (Burela)
OPP 08 - OPROMAR (Marín)
OPP 49 - ORGAPU (On Guard)


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