An Iberian study into the ‘stock of sardines’ in Portuguese and Spanish waters threatens to blow all the doom-mongers out of the water.
Only two years ago, ICES – standing for the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) – was recommending a blanket 15-year ban on the fishing of sardines, suggesting stocks were at a critical low.
The findings were trashed by fishermen at the time for being ‘ludicrous’ and ‘completely out of date’ (click here) and now this latest study compiled by IPMA (the Portuguese Institute of Sea and Atmosphere) and its Spanish counterpart, the institute of oceanography, appears to confirm that stocks have in fact enjoyed a massive increase.
“Final estimates point to an increase in abundance of sardine juveniles from 534 million fish estimated in 2018 to 5.452 billion in 2019”, reports IPMA, suggesting the results exceed even the highest expectations.
Fishing associations have welcomed the news, saying they knew this all along – which is why strict annual quotas have caused so much anger and frustration.
The ‘sardine struggle’ isn’t over yet though. Explain reports, the new study now has to be ‘evaluated by ICES’ before next year’s quotas are defined.
Only a few months ago, outgoing minister of the sea Ana Paula Vitorino showed herself to be “cautious” about the possibility of increasing quotas, says Diário de Notícias, when fishing associations will be pushing now for this summer’s limit of 9,000 tons to be increased next year to a thumping 30,000 tons.