VRSA slams shellfish ban for being based on “questionable data”

“Questionable data” is behind a shellfish fishing ban “threatening the livelihood of dozens of local families”, Vila Real de Santo António council has warned.

The statement came after the local council requested a series of independent tests from a Spanish laboratory, which has shown there is “no reason for a ban” as the level of toxins in the water is “below the legal minimum”.

The results totally refute data published online by Portugal’s Sea and Atmosphere Institute (IPMA), which has banned bivalve and shellfish fishing between VRSA and Olhão due to “high toxin levels”.

“This situation leaves us extremely worried,” VRSA mayor Luís Gomes explains, stressing that the council is demanding “an explanation about what is happening on our coast”.

“If two official laboratories present different results for the same tests, we have to go as far as we can to figure out what’s going on,” he added, warning that the ban is causing “serious difficulties” to many local families whose livelihoods are at stake.

The council’s statement came days after it met with the Secretary of State for Sea, Manuel Pinto de Abreu, to assess the “economic consequences” of the ban.

VRSA council had also asked IPMA to update its fishing information more frequently, as the latest updated information relates to May.

Since then, the ban has been partially lifted but still only allows the harvest of the ‘amêijoa-branca’ and ‘pé-de-burrinho’ clams.