The European Commission's recent agreement to reduce fishing quotas has come as a severe blow to the sector in Andalucía, leaving it in a vulnerable situation and its economic future in jeopardy, according to representatives from the sector and the regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing, Water and Rural Development.
The cuts are likely to affect 65% of the region’s fishing fleet and cause serious problems for those who trawl in the Mediterranean, they claim.
The agreement in Brussels means that the 64 trawlers will be able to operate in the Mediterranean for fewer than 150 days a year, and this comes on top of cutbacks of 37% which have already been applied in recent years. The decision will mean millions of euros in economic losses, the sector says.
In 2023 the EU will also reduce the quotas of red prawns which can be caught in the Mediterranean by 5% for the first time.
For the fishing fleet in the Atlantic, there will also be a reduction of 36% in the crayfish catch and this will make the situation inviable for many boats, say sources in Andalucía. Fifty trawlers will be affected, and they account for 40% of the total fleet.
The Junta de Andalucía and representatives from the sector are already planning to ask the government to take measures to alleviate the effects of the situation.
The president of the Faape fishing federation, José María Gallart, said the sector needs to be defended against the “disastrous” EU agreement.
“We had already warned that further cutbacks would make the situation inviable and this means that a large part of the Andalusian fleet will have to stay in port because it will not be profitable for the boats to go out to fish,” he insisted. And he said the fishing industry needs to be protected because it is essential for the Mediterranean coastal region of Andalucía and also for its gastronomy, culture and tourism.
He also accused EU fishing commissioner Virginius Sinkevicius of drawing up baseless policies and putting them into effect without using updated scientific studies or taking the socio-economic aspects into account.
The president of the Andalusian Association of Women in the Fishing Sector, Mari Ángeles Cayuela, was also dismayed by the EU agreement. She described it as “a tragedy for entire families in the sector because small boats will not be able to survive financially to the end of the year".
"They face complete economic ruin,” she said.