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Photo: courtesy Álvaro Ybarra Zavala

Turnover of Galician shellfish sector falls 77% due to coronavirus impact

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Friday, March 27, 2020, 01:30 (GMT + 9)

A report from the Xunta shows that the drop in the shellfish sector’s turnover in the community is greater than 77%, above the 75% set by the central government to receive financial compensation for the effects of the health alert

The Minstry of Marine Affairs  of the Xunta de Galicia  is constantly monitoring activity in the Galician fishing and shellfish sector since the health alert for the coronavirus began, and the consequent declaration of the state of alarm by the State, with the objective to know its evolution and defend the interests of professionals in the sector. In this sense, the department led by Rosa Quintana is making various tools available to the sector so that it can take advantage of measures such as extraordinary provision for cessation of activity foreseen by the Royal Decree-Law for urgent measures to face the economic impact of COVID- 19.

Photo: Stockfile

Among these tools is a report prepared by the Galician Executive that confirms that the drop in turnover of the shellfish gathering sector on foot  and of specific resources in Galicia is more than 77% so far this month -and that the stoppage would leave the same quantification - in relation to the previous semester, a percentage higher than 75% established by the State to be able to access these financial compensations.

The document, which is already available to the sector, endorses the fulfillment of the requirement to access the service and shows that the drop in sales is due to the fact that the products of the sector, of great economic value, have little demand as a result of the fact that the hospitality sector is closed and there are no alternatives for their commercialization.

Clam auction at the Cambados fish market (Photo: courtesy Iñaki Abella)

The Ministry of Marine Affairs has already sent this report to various entities in the sector requesting the general closure of shellfish gathering activity in Galicia, while clarifying that shellfish gathering, as it is a food supply activity, is not among the activities suspended by the measures established by the Xunta and by the central government in the face of the coronavirus crisis. In this sense, it stresses, the autonomous Executive cannot proceed to the closure of the activity in a general way since it is a competence that the State attributed to itself by issuing the declaration of the state of alarm, bringing this capacity to the Ministry of Health.

However, the Galician Administration reminds that the regional regulations allow each guild to request the closure or postponement of the extractive activity within the framework of its management plan -in the banks in which it works-, so the Ministry of Marine Affairs can proceed - and will proceed, if applicable - to issue specific pertinent resolutions for each requesting guild under the criteria and close arguments. Once this process is completed, those affected could request the benefit for the cessation of activity as a result of this situation and use the Xunta’s report to reinforce their request.


Support to the sector

The study prepared by the Ministry of Marine Affairs to support the sector in its demand for this extraordinary benefit due to the cessation of activity adds to the recommendations sent in recent days to the different segments of activity to complement those established by the Xunta and by the central government in the declarations of sanitary alert and of the state of alarm.

In the case of shellfish gathering, the possibility was included that those people who for health reasons are more vulnerable to the disease, or who are in charge of minors, may stay at home during the state of alarm without that inactivity represents a penalty for the renewal of the operating permit.

Regarding security measures, the Ministry of Marine Affairs recommended avoiding crowds both in work areas and at control points, maintaining a distance between people of more than one meter and avoiding physical contact. In addition, it advised shellfish professionals to use gels in all facilities where product handling is carried out, and to increase, as far as possible, the availability of areas for handwashing. It also suggested reinforcing hygiene and disinfection measures in spaces and vehicles for transporting the product to the fish market or point of sale.

The Galician Executive sent similar measures to reinforce hygiene and prevent other professionals in the sector, such as the fishing fleet or fish markets, due to the lack of specification by the State on how to act in these activities during the state of alarm.



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