Wednesday, 10 May 2023, 13:10
Trawler fishermen from across Malaga province gathered at Caleta de Vélez port as the fishing industry along the coast protested against EU cuts and changes to the conditions of bottom fishing, on Tuesday morning, 9 May.
"With just 150 days of work a year, the numbers for the trawling sector do not add up, it is unsustainable," said the top representative of the five Malaga fishing ports (Estepona, Fuengirola, Marbella, Malaga city and Caleta de Vélez).
According to president of the Malaga fishermen's guilds, Mari Carmen Navas, the European Union also wants to impose changes to the type of fishing nets allowed, and a new regulation on bottom fishing.
"We already have 12.5% of fishing protection zones and they want to put it up to 40%, if they continue like this there will be no fishermen or trawling left," she said.
The trawling sector on the Costa, made up of around 40 vessels, protested at Caleta de Vélez, where around half of the boats are based, to demand the EU "let us breathe, because every day there are more restrictions, since 2020 we have made a reduction in fishing efforts".
At the protest meeting, around 30 demonstrators chanted messages such as "We are fishermen are not criminals".
In Andalucía's Mediterranean waters there are now barely a hundred trawlers, when a decade ago there were more than twice as many. "There has been a major effort to eliminate vessels and one of the things that hurts us most is that every time the trawling sector is spoken of it is as something industrial, but that is not the reality in Malaga," Navas said.
"We are all lumped together in the same bag and we do not see the reality that we have, the efforts we have made. Some countries that do not have the same restrictions as us are being favoured, such as Morocco or Algeria, which have three times more fleet, being so close, and yet their product can be sold in Spain with fewer control measures,” she added.
Trawl fishing is multi-species, which is why it is a very attractive market, with species such as shrimp, Norway lobster, hake, monkfish, squid, squid, cuttlefish, rays and sole, Navas said.
Wind turbine farms
Another issue of concern to the fishermen are the wind farm turbine projects planned for the Malaga coastline.
"There are no environmental or socio-economic reports on how they could affect the fisheries, they are squeezing us in one way or another, they are not telling us to go away, but they are inviting us to leave," Navas claimed.
Rafael Barrientos, a retired captain of two boats based in the port of Caleta de Vélez, said the the situation "is bad, because it has reached a point where they are squeezing us too hard". "They treat us as if we were the destroyers of the sea, but there is surveillance by land, sea and air,” he said.
Head of fisheries for the CC OO union, Juan Manuel Trujillo, said that fishermen "are the greatest guardians of the maritime environment".
"We are concerned about biodiversity and biomass, we ask that not only environmental objectives be set, but also that the founding treaty, which is obligatory, establishes that food be supplied in both agriculture and fishing, and that they have an acceptable and dignified development," he said.
The trawling sector is in biological shutdown this month, within the calendar set by the Junta de Andalucía, in compliance with the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
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