Albufeira, Faro, Lagos, Olhão, Portimão and Tavira have taken over the management of their riverside areas following the signing of several protocols with national fishing authority Docapesca on Monday, May 29.
Following this new deal, the local councils of these six municipalities will manage areas reserved for “recreational nautical activities (leisure or sports-related)” as well as fishing ports and support facilities that are not under the jurisdiction of national commercial ports.
They will also manage “unused port areas and urban zones for tourism and economic development unrelated to port activities.”
Docapesca will remain responsible for managing fishing ports, selling fish at auctions, and maintaining breakwaters and harbour piers.
This change in management was made possible through new legal framework which allows municipalities to manage state-owned properties and areas, charge fees for the use of these facilities, and grant licenses or concessions.
While it was a process that took time, the chairman of Docapesca’s board of directors celebrated the successful outcome of this decentralisation procedure.
As Sérgio Faias pointed out, the deals will allow Docapesca to “refocus on its core activities”, primarily managing fishing ports and auctioning fish, while municipal councils which are closer to local populations have been given more decision-making power.
AMAL president António Pina agreed, stressing that “mayors know their territories and their respective needs better” than the central government.
He also praised Docapesca’s “complete availability to find the best solutions, which had not always happened in the past,” and warned that there are still issues that need to be “fine-tuned”, such as the future coordination between councils and the National Maritime Authority.
As Pina pointed out, the National Maritime Authority will continue charging lighthouse fees, while local councils will be in charge of replacing buoys and beacons. The issue of river dredging is another matter that the AMAL boss would like to see clarified.
Carlos Miguel, Secretary of State for Local Administration and Spatial Planning, also praised the outcome of the government’s four-year process of decentralisation and highlighted that “significant progress has been made”.
Said Miguel, 57 port areas were identified whose management could potentially be transferred over to municipalities. Thus 21 monitoring commissions were established, resulting in 11 national competency transfer agreements, six of which were signed at the event in Faro.
On a closing note, the Secretary of State for Fisheries acknowledged that the process took longer than anticipated but emphasised the importance of reaching a consensus with local councils.