Canarian fishermen have already caught 80% of the bluefin tuna quota assigned to the vessels of the Archipelago – stipulated at 537 tons for this year – despite the fact that there are still almost two months to go before the end of the campaign. For this reason, the General Sub-Directorate for Fisheries Surveillance and the Fight against Illegal Fishing has ordered the precautionary closure of the fishery to vessels from the Canary Islands fishing ground, in order to verify the volume of catches. A preventive stoppage, stipulated in the resolution of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food through which these catches are regulated.
After this closure – which came into effect last midnight – the agency will have to verify whether or not the assigned quota has been reached. In the event that there is still availability, the reopening will proceed, agreeing with the sector the necessary conditions so that the amount stipulated for the boats is not exceeded. Canary Islands. In this way, the catches of all vessels that do not have an electronic on-board log must be landed by Tuesday, May 2, at the latest.
Delayed ban speeds up catches
Although the clause that establishes the precautionary closure of the fishery is not new in the bluefin tuna catching campaign, according to the sector, some specific features of this year have contributed to this closure occurring earlier than in previous years. The first is the delay in the opening of the closure of the catches, which occurred on March 7. A situation that, according to Víctor Díaz, president of the Federation of Fishermen’s Guilds of Santa Cruz de Tenerifehas done nothing but speed up the catches by the boats in order to take advantage of the passage of this species through the waters of the Archipelago.
“That it opened later makes it difficult for us because the fish has already passed through here,” he explains. By opening at the same time in all the fishing grounds “when we can fish it we have less quantity and there is a greater volume in the market, with which prices drop,” he points out. For this reason, many have stepped on the accelerator to try to gain time in the first weeks.
fishing without penalty
Another aspect that has caused the precautionary closure to occur earlier is the greater margin that has been given to excess catches that remain without penalty, which has gone from 10% to 30%. In other words, the 248 authorized vessels can exceed the volume of their assigned catches by 30% without fear of having to face a fine. This greater room for maneuver has also reduced the fear that fishermen might have of catching a few more specimens due to the danger of going too far.
Although Díaz points out that in addition to these factors there is another that also influences the quotas being reached before the end of the campaign. “For the Canarian fleet, the quota is insufficient and ridiculous,” he points out. And that despite the fact that this year it has increased, although only by 1.8%. “The Canarian fleet fishes in an artisanal way, we do not deplete the tuna resources,” he values. For this reason, it insists that based on this and its status as the Outermost Region (RUP) they should be left out of the quotas or, failing that, “have a larger and more reasonable quota” that is around 700 or 900 tons, quantities that the Archipelago fleet historically fished.