Spain will battle it out in the European Council of Agriculture and Fisheries ministers that will take place on December 15 and 16 in Brussels. Specifically, against the proposal of the European Commission to propose an extra cut of 15% of the days of activity of the Mediterranean fleet, which would be added to the 10% already required during this year within the new Management Plan. What, from the sector, they believe threatens 17,000 jobs in five autonomies and would lead to “More than 60% or 70% of the Mediterranean trawl fleet closed”. It is not the only cut that has not sat well with Madrid, there is also the decrease in catches in the Atlantic / North Sea for species such as southern hake that could be cut by 13%. In parallel, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas He has been hopeful that there will be an agreement with the United Kingdom, although he assures that in the event of a hard Brexit, “the planned contingency plans” will be put in place.
Planas has assured in a press conference prior to the Fisheries Policy Advisory Council, made up of the regional councilors of the sector, that next week in Brussels will put on the table the opposition of Spain to the extra cut in the days of activity of the fishing fleet of the Mediterranean 15%, which would be added to the 10% applied from January 1. A belligerence that will extend to cuts in fishing quotas in the Atlantic and North Sea by 2021 in fisheries such as southern hake whose catches are to be cut by 13%. Nor does he believe that there are conditions to reduce catches of species such as sole, pollock or Norway lobster, and advocates maintaining the current quotas. In line with the above, the minister has recognized the importance of this species for the sector. In this sense, the proposed catch for sea bream is not yet known, but the Government is fighting to improve its management.
For its part, on the Management Plan for the Mediterranean, Planas has shown its “disagreement” with more cuts given that «Effort has not been correctly evaluated carried out »with a 10% decrease in the work days already applied during this year. In this sense, the reduction in working days of 40% is proposed until 2025. In this sense, the minister has also appealed to the “Social and economic sustainability” of this activity and the need for an agreement that allows the “continuity” of the Mediterranean fleet. In his opinion, it would not be fair to concentrate two-thirds of the effort agreed upon in the first two years of the plan.
In this sense, estimates the president of the Andalusian Federation of Fishing Associations (FAAPE) Javier Gallart, this extra effort would represent “the total ruin of the sector” and warns that, in 2021, «More than 60% or 70% of the Mediterranean trawl fleet closes». To the above, we must add the collapse in market prices due to the second wave of Covid with the consequent partial closure of the Horeca Channel (hospitality). An activity that, between March and April, was forced to stop by the pandemic.
Regarding Brexit, Planas has supported the negotiation developed by Brussels and recalled that the fate of 119 out of 146 fisheries (species) in total and that these are not yet on the table. In any case, if there is a hard Brexit, the minister has ensured that the Government will implement “the planned contingency plans” although he has shown moderate optimism about an understanding between both sides of the English Channel.