Juan Carlos Corrás of La Coruña PO Pescagalicia-Arpega predicts that the discard ban will hit the trawl fleet hardest.
‘It shouldn’t be a problem for the netters as there is very little undersized fish in their catches. There’s no minimum size for monkfish. The minimum mesh size we are allowed is 250mm and the boats are all in excess of this with 280mm mesh gear,’ he said.
‘The discard ban is already here for the hake boats and it will affect the others by 2019. Small fish won’t be so much a problem as the species there is little or no quota for. These are the choke species. For us that’ll be cod, followed by forkbeard and skates and rays. Hake won’t be a problem for us, but it will be for the Scots who don’t have historic catches of hake. So we’ll have cod problems and they’ll have hake problems – big problems.’
He commented that the last few years have been tough for the La Coruña fleet, although it has stabilised since fuel prices fell. But Pescagalicia-Arpega has lost some of its members during the hard years.
‘Membership has dropped from around sixty vessels to fifty today, mostly because of the fuel situation over the last few years.’
Membership is partly Spanish-flagged vessels, but Pescagalicia-Arpega also has a significant membership of Anglo-Spanish, French-Spanish and German-Spanish joint venture vessels among the fleet it represents.
‘The majority of those who left in the last couple of years were bankruptcies, with the vessels sold to cover those companies’ losses. The boats were mainly scrapped, with the licences sold – some of them remaining here and other going elsewhere.’