The xarda fishery is the first major coastal fishery of the year and is one of four, along with those of hake, bocarte and bonito, that generates more income for fishermen; last year it left 9.8 million euros in the Asturian rulas, the result of the sale of 9.3 million kilos landed. Apart from the catches of the Asturian fleet, the large rulas in the region –Avilés and Gijón– benefit from the significant unloadings made by Portuguese-flagged vessels authorized to fish for mackerel in Cantabrian waters.
The coastline that will begin in a few days is being developed marked by the uncertainty derived from Brexit (the process of leaving Great Britain from the European Union). According to the agreement adopted in the Council of Fisheries Ministers of the EU last December, only 65% of the xarda quota granted for 2020 was going to be able to be caught in the first semester, but that figure has been improved to 72% and it continues at the expense of the negotiations of the European Commission with the British Government, since the xarda is one of the 119 fish stocks shared and, therefore, affected by the “divorce”.
The Secretary General of Fisheries, Alicia Villauriz, has reassured fishermen on several occasions, assuring that Spain’s mackerel quota “is not affected by transfers to the United Kingdom derived from Brexit”, but also admits that “it is necessary to set its amount in in tune with the rest of the fisheries, as it is a biologically unique population for the entire Northeast Atlantic ”.
As a result of the uncertainty derived from the failure to tie the fishing fringes of Brexit, the Asturian fleet – like those of the rest of the Cantabrian Sea and Galicia – will start the coast of Xarda in March with an allocation of kilos less than that of 2020. 72% of the quota that has been granted leaves vessels of gears other than seine and trawling with 1.35 million kilos (at the expense of adding the unspent quota in 2020), 770,000 kilos less than last year. “Anything that is fishing less than in 2020 will be bad; we maintain the hope – and the demand – that the Government take steps to guarantee that we will have 2 million kilos ”, the president of the regional Federation of Fishermen’s Guilds, Adolfo García Méndez, commented yesterday.
With regard to purse-seine and trawling vessels, their respective catching possibilities have also been reduced: the set of trawlers from the Cantabrian-Northwest had 10.45 million kilos in 2020, which by 2021 will be (except for improvement) 7 , 09 million kilos; and the purse seine fleet, which last year managed a total quota in the entire Corniche of 10.97 million kilos, this year remains with 8.46 million kilos. In both cases, and unlike the smaller gear vessels, whose quota has a provincial distribution model, the trawling and purse-seine boats are included in a single list for the entire Northwest Cantabrian Sea.
According to the regulatory resolution of the xarda fishery delivered by the General Secretariat of Fisheries to the affected sectors, “to allow the best development of the fishery, with a quota very close to the total theoretical one that will be had, it is pertinent, at this time , do not deduct the deduction for the fine imposed on Spain for the overfishing of mackerel carried out in 2009 and which should be applied in 2021, 5,544 tons, a discount that will be made at a later time of the year and that, therefore, is pending for when set the final fee ”
What’s more, In order to better plan the campaign by all modalities, the Ministry indicates that, in addition to the global amount of 24,989 tons of available xarda quota (for the country as a whole), “there will be the application of the interannual flexibilities coming from 2020, in each of the modalities, ships and groups of ships ”. These additional amounts of mackerel quota –the surplus of the quota not spent during the past year– “will be applied soon in the corresponding and specific resolutions for the year 2021 for the trawling and purse-seining fleets of the Cantabrian and Northwest and the fleets of other gears. different from those two mentioned ”.
With this configuration of the mackerel fishery for the year 2021, and the aforementioned quantities that will be available and distributed soon for all fleets, Alicia Villauriz maintains that “there is certainty that Spain will not exceed its total estimated quota of mackerel for all the year 2021, taking into account the recommendation of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) of an 8% decrease in the total allowable catches (TAC) compared to 2020, the subsequent application of the deduction for overfishing of 2009 and the application of the inter-annual flexibilities from 2020 ”.