Algarve fishing fleet in uproar

Sardines were off the menu for two days this week as the Algarve’s sardine fishing fleet went into gridlock.
At issue were new European Commission regulations, which basically outlaw long-established net-fishing practices in Portugal’s south.
The problems centre on separating sardines at sea (from any other fish caught up in the nets) and weighing them by the kilo.
The new rules were brought in to “ensure EC fishing quotas are not exceeded”, but for the Algarve’s fishermen they are impossible to put into practice.
Their walk-out after the authorities ‘apprehended’ six-tons of sardines mixed with mackerel in Portimão on Tuesday, September 9, meant that the 51-boat fleet was are holed up in the region’s harbours from Lagos to Vila Real de Santo António, awaiting the results of an emergency meeting yesterday (September 11).
One of main concerns was that the new rules came in “from one day to the next”.
Jorge Vairinhos of the Barlapescas association of producers explained: “The Algarve’s boats have been selling fish all-together for years. On Tuesday we were told this was no longer legal”.
While fishing fleets in the north of the country are equipped to sell this way, the Algarve simply cannot get there, he said.
Luckily, yesterday’s meeting formulated a consensus. From now on, the jist of EC rulings will be followed, but they will not be hard and fast.
In other words, as long as hauls brought ashore in ice-packed containers are predominantly of sardines, the authorities will nod them through.
It’s an agreement that “adapts the specific characteristics of the sector and complies with legal rulings”, president of Olhão’s fishing fleet Miguel Cardoso told journalists.