In all his 40 years at sea, fisherman Vítorino Jesus has “never seen anything like it”: nets are being hauled up empty – and he blames the drought.
TSF radio reports that scientists are in agreement. “Without rain, the rivers do not fill, they don’t take nutrients to the ocean or create food for the fishes”, says the station.
While people think that only the land is affected by drought – in truth it is “prejudicing everything”.
Boat-owner and fish-farmer João Andrés told TSF that fish are not growing because “there is no phytoplankton” in the water.
The same thing is happening with shellfish, he added: “This year we are seeing half the usual amount, and clams are not spawning”.
Scientist Jorge Gonçalves of CCMAR, the University of the Algarve’s Centro de Ciências do Mar has confirmed the gloomy scenario, saying that without rain vital plankton – described as the base of ocean food chains – will continue to be scarce.
“The University of the Algarve has already done a study into the relationship between the flow of the Guadiana river and the landing of sardines, and it came to the conclusion that reduced water means less fish”, says TSF.
Coincidentally, this week is expected to see rainfall – particularly in the north and centre of the country – but nothing like enough to make any significant difference.
Say fishermen, the trouble isn’t just a lack of rainfall, it is the warm temperatures. “High winds”, rain and cold are what’s needed, and lots of it.