From north to south of the country, boats for sardine fishing recently returned to the sea. The activity begins at 6pm and the fishermen do not return until the morning of the following day. In the middle, a small stop to rest. And this is even good, because it means that you found a bulky school and threw the nets.
However, things do not always go well. Not so much for the lack of sardine pilchardus (scientific name) but for the imposed quotas. Portuguese sardine owners are against annual and daily catch limits for this year and have been "forced" to ask the government to postpone fishing from May 15 to June 3.
"We understand that the global quantities are reduced considering the evaluation we make of the resources," Jorge Abrantes, technical advisor to the Association of Fish Producers' Organizations (ANOP) of the Fence. "We are confident that the sardine has a larger dimension than the one that is being scientifically validated as a starting point," added the official,
In a dispatch published in Diário da República on May 15, the Government sets for this year a catch limit of 10,799 tons, to be divided by Portugal and Spain, whereas for 2018 the fishing possibilities were about 12 thousand tons.
Today, the European Commission's Director-General for Fisheries has estimated that Portugal and Spain still have to "tighten their waistlines" within the limits imposed on sardine capture, which is considered to be the only way to ensure the continuity of Iberian fisheries.
"If we want to have a sardine fishery that continues in the next few years, there will be a period when we have to tighten our waistlines and this is very difficult," he told the Lusa news agency in Brussels. Fisheries (DG-MARE), João Aguiar Machado.
In an interview with the head of the European Union (EU) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in mid-September, the official pointed out that the sardine stock in Portugal and Spain is " in a bad state, "a situation that has forced countries to reduce catch quotas to ensure this.
Although this quota was established, Portuguese fishermen will only be able to fish five thousand tons between June 3 and July 31, although a slight increase compared to 2018, when they could fish 4,855 tons in the same period of the previous year.
The daily landing limit per vessel was reduced from 1,250 to 1,063 tons for vessels up to nine meters, from 2,500 to 2,125 tons for vessels up to 16 meters and from 3,750 to 3,188 tons for vessels above 16 meters.
Unlike 2018, small sardines, but with a commercial size, can only be put up for sale between 00:00 on Monday and 00:00 on Thursday and their fishing is prohibited in areas up to 20 meters deep, delimited between north of Aveiro and south of Figueira da Foz, between the north and center of the country, and between Cacela and Vila Real de Santo António in the Algarve.
Vessels may no longer unload at more than one port for a period of 24 hours and may not transfer the sardines to a different bay than the port of discharge.
Since April, Portuguese and Spanish shipowners have requested that a quota of 15,425 tonnes, corresponding to the 10% of the existing stock estimate, be set at 154,254 tonnes in the most recent opinion of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). English) to 2019.
João Ramos, of the National Union of Fishworkers, receives complaints from fishermen and shipowners every day. "The former want to earn a living and work all year long. Others have many expenses because they have a boat stopped and can not make a bill. But, unfortunately, we have to obey the rules, "says the head of the Economic Journal.
According to data from Pordata, released earlier this year, mackerel is the most caught fish in Portugal – in 2017 19,000 tonnes were caught – having surpassed sardine fishing as of 2012. On the other hand, although 5% of the total fish catch in 2017, represents the highest revenue generated by the sales in Portugal (14%).
The Algarve continues to lead the octopus catch in Portugal, although there was a decrease of 39% between 2002 and 2017. Consequently, the revenue generated by the sale of the octopus decreased by 11% in the Algarve.