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Worry in Spain about new mackerel quotas
April 12, 2013, 02:34 PM
The fleet of the Northwestern Cantabrian mackerel fishing ground was shocked and worried by the newest sanction imposed recently by the European Commission for the overfishing of this species, adding to previous sanctions that had already put a damper on the industry.

The 2013 season started first for trawling, then for purse-seine and other gears on 25 and 27 February respectably, with an estimated available quota of 25,500 metric tons (MT), but on 8 March it had already been closed for purse-seine fishing. As a result, just a few landing days were left for this species and this gear, while a quota is still available for trawling and other gears, like hooks.

This season was already marked by the observance of another European sanction for overfishing in 2010, which won’t end until 2015. For this reason, the new sanction will be staggered, deducting around 100 MT annually until 2015, when this figure will turn into 5,544 MT annually until 2023.

Mercedes Rodríguez, manager of the Producers’ Organization of Lugo (OPP Lugo) was surprised by this new sanction, as the “fleet was convinced that there had been no problems, because they stopped when they received the order to do so. We were convinced that we really were fishing according to the law.” Iñaki Zabaleta, chairman of the Federation of Fishermens’ Guilds of Bizkaia (Basque Country) explains that the campaign “is really short” and adds that “we are having a difficult time.” Miguel Neira, manager of the Association of Ship-owners of Burela (ABSA), the Galician town with higher volume of mackerel landings in the last few years, states that apart from these sanctions, “the starting point is really bad,” as “the available quota is obviously insufficient for the Spanish fleet.” Zabaleta agrees with this opinion and states that this situation is leading some ship owners to think on prematurely stopping their vessels’ activity in a definitive way.

As for the alternatives, Mercedes Rodríguez explains that other species can be fished with the available quotas, but “unfortunately, this possibility is really limited for all the gears used in the Northwestern Cantabrian national fishing ground, as our quotas are extremely restricted.”

Looking ahead, she champions the increase of the quota as the only possible solution. Regarding the behavior of this species on first sale, this year the prices are not meeting the sector’s expectations, as they are quite lower than last year’s.

Source: (SeafoodSource)
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