The Congress supports favoring artisanal fishing in the capture of bluefin tuna

The Congress supports favoring artisanal fishing in the capture of bluefin tuna The Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Environment of the Congress of Deputies has requested a modification of the catch regime of eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna of 2017, so it benefits the artisanal fleet more.

The parliamentary commission has approved an initiative of ERC, transacted with the PSOE and the Grupo Mixto, to propose a “change of practice”, which allows craft boats in the Mediterranean to take advantage of the so-called working capital that the Government keeps with part of the national quota of the species.

The proposal has also been supported by Unidos Podemos-En Comú Podem-En Marea, rejected by the PP and Ciudadanos, while the PNV has abstained.

According to the spokesman of Agriculture of the ERC group, Xavier Eritja, the objective is that the craft boats that have permission to extract tuna as if it were accidental fishing can qualify their catches as directed fishing – that is, as a fish to which they have specifically dedicated a ship. It is a claim that is commonly defended by fishermen’s associations.

Spain has 4,244 tons of bluefin tuna in 2017, of which 5% is allocated to the so-called working capital, to meet the needs of artisanal fisheries and bycatch. According to the amendment, the deputies have requested to enable the change from accidental to directed within said fund. They have also claimed to include the list of artisanal vessels in the census of the fleet for that species so that it can guarantee “to Mediterranean and Canarian operators” the same quota assigned for directed fishing.

However, Eritja has advocated to “avoid suspicion” and that artisans should be favored within the reserve fund, because it has also defended to “guarantee the rights of the purse seine and longline fleet” of Catalonia.

Currently, there is a confrontation between fleets, because the fence of Catalonia defends historical rights and organizations of the artisanal fleet of the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands ask to change their distribution. Because of this discrepancy, the parliamentary commission has rejected another initiative presented by Unidos Podemos, transacted with Ciudadanos, also in defense of artisanal vessels.

The initiative has been rejected by the PP, by the PNV and the PSOE, who in this case had defended the trap and vessels that were harmed when in 2007 the bluefin tuna fishing was cut by a recovery plan. The spokeswoman of Agriculture and Fisheries of Unidos Podemos, Rosana Pastor, has exposed during the voting that it tried to transact a common text with the PSOE, but she has not had time.

In the debate, Pastor has said that the artisanal sector “has been mistreated by successive state administrations.” It has called for a “democratization” of the distribution for the sake of “sustainability,” to favor small-scale fleets, by criteria of “socio-economic cohesion.”

However, the socialist deputy Josefa González Bayo has defended an amendment, to request that the “premise” of the historical distribution be maintained.
He recalled that when the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) imposed a recovery plan, some boats and traps suffered “unrest” and were forced to ERE of companies.

The PP has argued that the Government has already made the necessary progress to favor the artisanal fleet. However, both the popular Fishing spokesman, Joaquín García Díez, and the spokesman of the PNV branch, Joseba Agirretxea, have been tougher with Unidos Podemos, whose proposal, they have pointed out, does not coincide with the truth; the basque deputy has pointed out that the Cantabrian ships have been forgotten.

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