Trawling fishermen from the ports of Tarragona, Torredembarra, L’Ampolla and L’Ametlla de Mar, will remain ashore for two months and ten days, starting today. They will not fish again until July 1. This is the longest biological ban in recent times because, as a general rule, the strike is two months. This year it is extended by two weeks, or what is the same, ten business days. The reason is to contribute to the limitation of fishing days, as required by the multi-annual plan for the Mediterranean, presented by Europe. The regulation intends that, in the year 2025, fishing days will be reduced by 40%. The plan calls for this reduction to be made progressively year after year, until the final goal is reached. The sector is against this law, which seeks to be able to fish only six months a year, which would make the business unviable. Despite this, fishermen have no choice but to respect the rules imposed from Europe.
This regulation marks the number of days that you cannot go fishing, depending on the length of the boats. The larger the vessel, the more days allowed. “We do not understand what they are based on to make this type of decision, nor do we understand why our ports are the most punished, if we are the ones that do the most bans,” explains Rosa Sans, secretary of the Confraria de Pescadors.
As of today, the 19 Tarragona trawler boats will remain moored until the beginning of July, while the shrimp boats, which are five, will not stop until May 1.
During these next few weeks without activity, shipowners will take the opportunity to fix and do maintenance work on their boats. «Tomorrow the mechanic is coming to do a big repair to the engine. Next Monday they do a review and, on the 6th, the boat goes to the slipway to do a second inspection, “explains Ramon Budesca, owner of the Nova Tortosina. On the other hand, Tomas Escoda, from the Xarinola boat, assures that «we take the opportunity to get everything ready these days, because we cannot afford not to go out one day due to a breakdown. Everything must be perfect.” And it is that, between the days marked by the regulations, the biological closures and the storms, there are fewer and fewer working days for this group.
During these 70 days, the boats do not leave and, therefore, the companies do not invoice. For their part, the sailors spend and receive unemployment benefits, while the shipowners live on the savings they have made throughout the season. It is not until the end of the year, when the European Union pays them a part of the ban. “They have told us that this year they will pay us 33% of the day, carrying out an average from 2017 to 2019,” explains Budesca. And this will happen in the best of cases, taking into account that, for some years, the sector has been left without subsidies. “In order to collect the aid, it is mandatory to have a clean file, without any sanction,” says Budesca, who adds that the administration cheats. “If they denounce us for a serious infraction, they force us to return all the aid from the last five years,” says the shipowner.
“There are many days without work”
Budesca explains how he lives the season. “There are many days without being able to go out to work. By the time we got to the end of June, we were already starting to get nervous. We see how the bank accounts are starting to go down and recovering the money is not easy”, explains the owner, who adds that “if the season has gone well, he can hold on. But if, on the contrary, it has been hard, there is no way to resurface.
Jaume Sans, owner of the Joan i Maria boat, believes that “all impositions are bad. With two months of unemployment, we had more than enough. However, we have to listen to Brussels because otherwise the sanctions we face would end up sinking us. For his part, Escoda assures that “from the federations we have always rejected this European regulation that forces us to reduce days of fishing. We don’t know why, but we always end up complying.”
And it is that these ten days of more than closure that are made on this occasion, is only the beginning. «I still have about 17 or 18 days left to be tied up. The thing is serious, “says Escoda, who has calculated that this year he will only work 8 months. “They will tell me what type of business would accept these conditions,” adds the shipowner.
Will there be fish in the Mercat?
That the boats of the Seraglio do not go out to fish, does not mean that in the fishmongers we cannot find local products. This time, the ban is limited to the ports of Tarragona, Torredembarra, L’Ampolla and L’Ametlla de Mar. But the fishermen of La Ràpita and Vilanova i La Geltrú will continue fishing. The biological stops go by zones. Now it’s Tarragona.
«We fishmongers are already smart to be able to bring fish from the Mediterranean to our stalls and shops. Don’t worry, “explains Kiku Dalmau, owner of the Rita fish market in Tarragona’s Mercat Central. In these circumstances, Dalmau must travel to other ports to look for fresh goods, as long as they don’t bring it to him, as happens very often.