Fishermen unite to protect tradition

LAST UPDATED: 16 Dec, 2009 @ 13:05
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Fishermen unite to protect tradition

IT IS an ancient fishing practice dating back to the Phoenicians times.

Yet it is catching one of the most endangered fishes left in the world.

With tuna stocks now dwindling across the globe it was inevitable that the thousand-year old fishing technique known as the almadraba would come under the spotlight.

Setting up close to the coast, red tuna fisherman have historically thrown out giant nets into the Cadiz waters to catch the fish as they head towards the Straits of Gibraltar.

“How can you compare the almadrabas, an ancient type of fishing, which is sustainable and respectful towards the species, with the industrial fishing of vessels, which through the latest technology pursue the tuna all over the oceans?”

However, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has now called on Spain to slash its fishing quotas by 40 per cent to preserve the species.

This has forced fishermen from Cadiz province to label the recent decision a “grave injustice” towards their sustainable model of fishing.

They also hit out at the “more indiscriminate” fishing of industrial vessels which should be punished ahead of their “more-balanced model”.

And now local politicians have weighed into the heated debate in a bid to protect the long-standing tradition as well as the fishermen’s jobs.

Mayor of Barbate, Rafael Quiros, explained: “How can you compare the almadrabas, an ancient type of fishing, which is sustainable and respectful towards the species, with the industrial fishing of vessels, which through the latest technology pursue the tuna all over the oceans?”

It is feared that a 40 per cent reduction in 2010 from 22,000 tonnes to 13,500 tonnes will result in the loss of 200 jobs.

Meanwhile, the EU’s Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg revealed that, between 2000 and 2008, the EU gave a total of 34.5 million euros to subsidise Mediterranean tuna fishing fleets.

Of that, Spain received more than half of the subsidy.

Green MEP Raül Romeva i Rueda said: “This shows clearly the hypocrisy of the EU, which insists on the need to conserve fish stocks while simultaneously encouraging the rapid expansion of a fleet that was already too large.”

Since 1955, bluefin tuna populations have shrunk to a quarter of their former size, with the bulk of the reduction occurring since 2002.

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