The Spanish Minister of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs, Rosa Aguilar. (Photo: MARM)
Spanish fleet receives 15 per cent increase in hake quota
Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 22:40 (GMT + 9)
In 2011, catches of hake, a species of high commercial value for the Spanish fleet, will increase by 15 per cent in the southern fishing grounds and the same volumes of this year will remain for the Northern fishing grounds.
This was resolved by the Board of Fisheries of the European Union (EU) which met on 13 and 14 December in Brussels, the agreement set the Total Allowable Catches (TAC) and fishing quotas for member countries during next year.
For Spain, the distribution of the new TAC was halfway between the cuts proposed by the European Commission (EC) and the claims of the industry, as they considered their proposals too restrictive.
As for hake, fishing opportunities have finally been distributed in compliance with the recommendations of the Commission, which proposed an increase of 15 per cent for the stock which is caught in Iberian waters (Bay of Biscay, Galicia, Portugal and the Gulf of Cadiz).
The Spanish Government, shipowners and the guilds sought to also obtain a 15 per cent increase in the quota for the North (Gran Sol, Scotland, Ireland and the Spanish waters of the Gulf of Biscay). But while scientists argued that the reports endorse a favorable evolution of the species, the Council decided to maintain the same level of catches of 2010.
The Spanish Minister of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs, Rosa Aguilar, was satisfied, as Spanish interests were broadly preserved, except in the possibility of increasing quotas for northern hake.
Among the achievements, Spain received an increase of 5 per cent in the quota for anchovy fishing in the Gulf of Cadiz. In addition, they managed to maintain stable quotas of other species, despite the reductions proposed by the European Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki.
Another of the Spanish claims which were accepted by the Council is that ships returning from the fishing grounds of Gran Sol will be allowed to pass through the closed area of Porcupine Bank. This will cut costs, as ships will save up to nine hours of sailing.
Also, the Spanish fleet managed not to be affected by the cod recovery plan, which involves a 50 per cent reduction in fishing effort.
The twenty-seven member states also undertook to review the recovery plan for hake in Iberian waters, in order to obtain higher percentages of days for fishing.
Aguilar said that the Spanish delegation had to struggle to maintain some fishing opportunities in which the Commission recommended cuts, such as Norway lobster in Iberian waters, for which it was possible to "minimize" the decline of 25 per cent proposed by Brussels.
Also managed to soften the cuts proposed for horse mackerel, Nephrops, haddock and anchovy in the Gulf of Cadiz (the latter with a 5 per cent increase).
Meanwhile, the national fishery catches for monkfish will improve by 5 per cent and sole by 11 per cent. And shares remain during 2010 remain the same for monkfish and megrim in Scottish waters, for which the Commission had requested a reduction.
However, the Cooperative of Shipowners of the Port of Vigo (ARVI) made their disagreement public with regards to the results achieved by Spain in the Council of Ministers, as they "confirmed the restrictive policy that presides over the management of the current Commissioner of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki" the association said in a statement.
The owners are complaining about the general trend of declining fishing opportunities to reduce the TAC for most stocks despite "the good results that are shaping the recovery plans and management of key marine species."
- Spanish government seek to obtain larger hake quota
- Shipowners consider EC quota plan to be 'too restrictive'
By Silvina Corniola