Algarve fishermen slam “exaggerated shellfish bans”

“Exaggerated shellfish bans” are causing serious hardship to Algarve fishermen – especially those who focus on catching the popular saltwater clams known locally as ‘conquilha’.

The warning comes from Ria Formosa shellfishing organisation Olhãopesca, which is calling on the government to stop being “overly strict” with its toxin-level standards.

As frequently happens in high temperatures, authorities are maintaining that “toxins are currently too high” in Algarve waters – particularly DSP toxins, which can cause diarrhoea. But fishermen claim there has been no news of health issues affecting anyone who has eaten the clams.

Olhãopesca intimates that thousands are still enjoying saltwater clams despite the ban, as there is a “parallel market” in which shellfish is sold, often above the standard selling price (€7 to €14 as opposed to €3 to €4 per kilo), and especially during imposed “bans”.

“This is why we ask if security levels (for toxins) aren’t exaggeratedly high,” the organisation explains in an official statement.

This latest embargo on conquilha fishing has been in place since May and is causing “serious social difficulties” to many fishermen and their families throughout the Algarve, as it makes earning a living even more difficult, says the organisation.

Olhãopesca president Miguel Cardoso has already confirmed he is sending a letter to the Secretary of State for Sea, to ask the government to “revise its standards” for shellfishing bans.

Olhãopesca is an organisation that represents 127 fishing boats in the Algarve – 50 of which focus mostly on catching ‘conquilha’.

Earlier this month, VRSA council made a similar statement, alleging “questionable data” was used to support shellfish fishing bans that were “threatening the livelihoods of many locals families” (VRSA slams shellfish ban for being based on “questionable data”).

Current fishing bans can be consulted online at

[email protected]