Sardine fishing season begins today

Portuguese fleet allowed to catch 29,400 tonnes

The season for sardine fishing has begun. From 00.00 hours today, the Portuguese fleet  has been given the go-ahead to land as much as 29,400 tonnes over the next few months.

There are still endless rules, nonetheless: “For each fishing day, the statute (published in State gazettes Diário da República) defines the limit of sardines that can be unloaded or offered for sale”, depending on the size of the boats catching them: “nine metres or less (1,080 kilos), over nine metres and less than or equal to 16 metres (2,160 kilos) and over 16 metres (3,240 kilos)”.

Fishermen are prohibited from catching sardines, keeping them onboard, unloading and selling on Bank Holidays; they cannot transfer their catches to auctions “different from those corresponding to the port of unloading” – and they can only fish at specific times (with different areas being bound by different rules at weekends):

From Caminha to Figueira da Foz, for example, the weekend break runs from midnight on Friday to midnight on Sunday; from Nazaré to Lisbon it runs from noon on Saturday to noon on Monday, from Setúbal to Sines 8pm Friday to 8pm Sunday; from Lagos, Portimão and Sagres 6pm Friday to 6pm Sunday – and from Faro to Vila Real de Santo António 6pm Friday to 6pm Sunday.

Maria do Céu Antunes, minister of agriculture and fisheries, explains that this year’s limit on fishing, as in previous years, has been based on scientific advice that involves rules also for neighbouring Spain.

Sardine fishing is performed with ‘purse seine gear’ (vertical net curtains) along the coasts, designed specifically for the catching of ‘adult’ fish.

Fishermen’s associations however are not complaining.

Talking to Lusa, Humberto Jorge, president of the National Association of Fishing Organisations (ANOP Cerco), the new limits “correspond to the expectations of the sector”, allowing it to “fish a little more than in 2021, to start the activity on May 2 – when last year it was mid-May, and to have a daily limit that is a little higher, with 140 baskets per day, almost three tonnes”.

The new rules will also “allow the fleet to operate until the end of November“, thus contributing to “greater sustainability” in economic terms and “greater stability” in the sector, he added.

With the recovery of sardine stocks reflected in the decisions, ANOP Cerco began the process of international MSC certification of the Iberian sardine. This recognition has been suspended due to the reduction of stocks over the last few years.

“Certification is very important, because from the moment we can return to fishing larger quantities than those that the wet fish market absorbs, and supply the canning industry, it allows this industry to work with markets in northern Europe, where certifications have a positive impact with the end consumer,” Jorge explained.

Source: Lusa