Our Last Game – Fishermen say sardine 'stock' has recovered and want to fish 30,000 tonnes

The fishermen of the siege fisheries argue, based on scientific data, that the ‘stock’ of sardine in the waters of Portugal and Spain it is recovered and is sustainable, and they want to fish 30 thousand tons this year.

In a press release sent today to the Lusa agency, the National Association of Organizations of Fisheries for Siege Producers (ANOPCERCO) states that the fishermen in Portugal and Spain “were right” and that the sardine stock “is fully recovered and is sustainable ”.

The association representing the owners of the siege fisheries bases this conclusion on scientific data collected by the PELAGO 2020 research campaign, carried out by the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere (IPMA) in March, to assess the amount of sardines on the Portuguese coast and Gulf of Cadiz, and the results of which were presented to fishermen in a videoconference held during the late afternoon and Friday night.

“The data now released are excellent and come as a result of all the positive data that the scientific campaigns carried out in 2018 and in 2019, either by IPMA, or by the Spanish Oceanography Institute (IEO), were showing”, reveals the statement.

The document adds that “the main objective is already reached (in 2020)” of the Multi-Annual Plan for Management and Recovery of the Iberian Sardine Stock, which was to reach, in the beginning of 2023, approximately three years from now, in the Atlantic waters of Iberian Peninsula, a total of about 270 thousand tons of sardine biomass over one year old.

“The data now released from the PELAGO 2020 campaign point to a total of 385,202 tons of sardine biomass for more than one year for this same area. Fantastic ”, points out ANOPCERCO.

In fact, according to the IPMA report to which Lusa had access, sardine biomass over one year old increased by 153% in 2020 compared to 2019 (from about 152 thousand tons to 385 thousand tons).

Based on these and other data, Portuguese fishermen in siege fisheries and their producer organizations are “particularly proud” to announce that the 'stock' of Iberian Atlantic sardines “has been clearly reached and exceeded, after more 10 years in which it was below that limit, having reached its minimum in 2015 with 117,929 tons ”.

“For us, the fact that by 2020 the objective of the Multiannual Plan for Management and Recovery of the Iberian Sardine Stock, planned for 2023, has already been largely transposed, is clear proof that the sacrifices made by the sector in the last five years have paid off and that contributed for the Iberian sardine to reach the sustainability goals ”advocated by the European Union, says ANOPCERCO.

Regarding the government order published on Friday, which announces the reopening of sardine fishing in the period between June 1st and July 31st, with a limit of discharges of catches with the art of siege of 6,300 tons in Portugal – the which corresponds, according to ANOPCERCO, to an Iberian total of 9,500 tons – the producers' association says that “this limitation is merely indicative”.

“The data that has now been released (by the IPMA) allows us to ensure that, in 2020, more than 30,000 tons of sardines are captured by the fleets of Portugal and Spain”, he defends.

In this sense, ANOPCERCO says it expects the scientific community and the Government to “quickly and clearly promote the quality of the data now released by IPMA, in order to eliminate, once and for all, the set of catastrophist theses that were widely disseminated and that are totally out of touch with the current situation of the Iberian sardine resource in Atlantic waters ”.

In the note, the producers' representative organization also maintains that the current moment is “of great pride and satisfaction”, saluting and thanking the “strong commitment” of the Government and the IPMA in carrying out the investigation “which allowed the obtaining of such important data for the future of sardine fishing in Portugal ”.

ANOPCERCO also thanks the crew of the scientific cruise, the technical team that accompanied it and the masters and crew of the three fishing vessels that collaborated in the scientific campaign PELAGO 2020, which “will go down in history as the campaign that validated the total recovery and the sustainability of the Iberian sardine ”.

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