European Union’s decision to drastically reduce the total allowable catch (TAC) for blue whiting in 2011 by 93 percent has badly affected the owners of fishing trawlers in Ribeira. According to the report the Ribeira trawl fleet is the largest in Galicia. It is composed of some 40 vessels and supports more than one thousand direct jobs at sea. The main species caught and auctioned at market is the blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou), as last year nearly 9,000 tonnes of the fish was landed.
In 2010 the TAC allocated for this species was around 540,000 tonnes, of which Spain controls only 3.6 percent. Thus, the fishermen argue that it is unfair that Spain should be responsible for the conservation of the species, “since most of the catches are made by the northern European fleets.” The EU’s decision has compelled the fleet to complain their woes to the authorities of the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (Cepesca) and ask them to intercede in order to find a solution.
Their main demand is to separate the management of blue whiting in two different stocks, the north and south, for better resource management. Whilst northern European countries use quotas for this species for the production of fishmeal, the southern countries use blue whiting mostly for human consumption. Javier Garat, Secretary General of Cepesca, has agreed to mediate with the Spanish political authorities and the EU. The head of Cepesca recognized that by 2011 the EU decision is already made, and that it is not possible to find any solution. What remains is to “get to work for a change in 2012.”