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Anchovy landings. (Photo: Stock File)

Andalusia pleads for greater anchovy quota before the sardine uncertain future

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Wednesday, December 06, 2017, 03:00 (GMT + 9)

Andalusia advocates a greater anchovy quota given the uncertain future facing the sardine fishery, said Undersecretary of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development Rodrigo Sánchez Haro, during his speech at the Advisory Council on Fisheries Policy for Community Affairs held in Madrid.

There, the Andalusian undersecretary warned Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment Isabel García Tejerina that it is "essential" for negotiations to be aimed at that goal, considering the "high dependence" of the purse seine fleet of the Gulf of Cádiz on the two species catches, and the situation the sardine is going through.

Sánchez Haro explained that this greater margin for the anchovy is getting even more necessary given the fact that the quota allocated to Spain is usually revised upwards due to the quota exchange with Portugal throughout the year.

In the undersecretary's opinion, "a lot is at stake", to the extent that there are 86 ships and 830 crew members that would be affected by a hypothetical conservative or reductionist proposal of the European Commission (EC).

This year, the purse seine fleet of the Gulf of Cadiz has provided fishing opportunities of 5,909 tonnes of anchovy and 2,552 tonnes of sardine, and the latter was exhausted on September 1. "A fall of both would greatly compromise their subsistence," said Sanchez Haro.

The head of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development maintains a similar position in relation to the total allowable catches (TAC) of horse mackerel and hake, in these cases with proposals from Brussels.

Faced with the EC's intention to cut fishing opportunities for horse mackerel by 24 per cent, "excessive if indicators from the Scientific Committee of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) are taken into account", he calls for an increase in quota "in order to guarantee the profitability of the Gulf of Cádiz sector".

With regard to hake, for which the EC also proposes a reduction that is "much higher than that justified by the scientific reports that would significantly damage the interests of the Gulf of Cádiz trawling fleet", the undersecretary requests, as a minimum, a maintenance of the limit established for the current period.

For Sanchez Haro, the reduction proposed for horse mackerel, whose possibilities would decrease from 73,349 tonnes in 2017 to 55,555 tonnes in 2018, is "too conservative", especially considering that the fleet of the Gulf of Cádiz has already experienced a closure of this fishery due to the exhaustion of the quota in the last three years. Furthermore, he stressed that until November 23, the catches had reached 1,110.4 tonnes and the EC approach would limit this figure to just 628.1 tonnes, which "does not cover, not even the minimum" of the needs of the Andalusian sector.

As regards hake, Brussels points to a 30 per cent decrease in the TAC, which would fall from 10,520 tonnes to 7,366 tonnes, despite the fact that the Scientific Committee of the ICES sets a quota for 2018 of 8,049 tonnes.

The undersecretary points out that the decision would have a "serious impact" on the fishing sector of the Gulf of Cádiz (the trawl method includes 135 boats and 675 crew members), which would only correspond to 294.09 tonnes (6.24 per cent of the total assigned to Spain). This amount, in his opinion, is "clearly insufficient", as evidenced by the first sale notes of the species in the markets of Huelva and Cádiz, which, until October 23, yielded a total of 302 tonnes.


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