Algarve fishing crisis looms due to rising fuel prices

Sardine fishing season opens with restrictions

The 2023 sardine (Sardina pilchardus) fishing season starts on Tuesday at 00:00.

Sardine fishing season starts next Tuesday, with limits on landings and sales, according to a diploma published today in Diário da República.

“Sardine (Sardina pilchardus) fishing season opens at 00:00 on May 2, 2023”, reads a dispatch signed by the Secretary of State for Fisheries, Teresa Coelho.

The limit for landing sardines captured using purse seines is 37,642 tonnes, divided between the vessels whose owners or shipowners belong to producer organisations (PO) and the group that does not belong to POs recognised for sardines.

Each group will be allowed, respectively, 37,077 (98.5%) and 565 tons (1.5%).

The Government has also established a set of limits with regard to the landing and sale of this fish, including a maximum of 607.5 kilograms (kg) – which corresponds to 27 baskets – of sardines calibrated as T4.

For vessels with an overall length equal to or less than nine metres, the limit is 1,800 kg or 80 baskets, when applicable.

Vessels with an overall length of more than nine metres and less than or equal to 16 metres have a limit of 3,150 kg (140 baskets, when applicable).

Vessels over 16 metres cannot unload and sell more than 4,500 kg daily, corresponding to 200 baskets when applicable.

Catching, keeping on board, unloading and selling sardines is prohibited on all national holidays.

According to the order, transferring fish to a lota (auction) that doesn’t correspond to its landing port is also prohibited.

In the same sense, the vessel cannot unload in more than one port daily.

The executive noted that the “fishing day concept corresponds to each 24-hour day, after the end of 48 hours”.

By areas of jurisdiction of the captaincies, from Caminha to Figueira da Foz, the fishing day is deferred from 00:00 on Saturday until 00:00 on Monday. The same happens from Nazaré to Lisbon.

In Setúbal and Sines, it is from 20:00 on Friday until 20:00 on Sunday.

In turn, in Lagos, Portimão and Sagres, it is from 6 pm on Friday to 6 pm on Sunday, and the same applies from Faro to Vila Real de Santo António.

Within the limits of landings and sales, and for a maximum of five fishing days per week, for each vessel, POs may establish limits for landings per vessel and for unloading specimens of specific size categories.

POs can also determine the daily departure time for vessels.

However, these changes must be communicated to the Directorate-General for Natural Resources, Safety and Maritime Services (DGRM).

On the first Tuesday of each month, the DGRM will inform the POs of the quantities already attained.

The limits of this order can be subject to alterations if justified, and sardine fishing can even be stopped if the annual quota is reached or suspended for a minimum period of 10 days.

A temporary fishing ban can be imposed if, for example, more than 30% of sardines measuring less than 13 centimetres are detected in the purse seine vessels.

Sardine fishing is managed by Portugal and Spain according to a multi-annual plan.

The two countries set a catch limit for the current year at 56,604 tonnes, of which 37,642 (66.5%) are attributed to Portugal.