Water treatment plants blamed for Ria Formosa’s shellfishing doldrums

News that shellfish production areas in the Ria Formosa have been ‘downgraded’ has met with anger and frustration from beleaguered shellfishermen. They claim the molluscs and bivalves their livelihoods depend on are being killed and damaged by faulty water treatment plants (ETARs). And they say if action doesn’t come soon, they will all be out of business.

“This is a sector that is already in bad shape,” says a statement from the syndicate of southern fishermen. “Solutions are taking a long time coming – despite all the great speeches proffered in moments of pomp and circumstance. If measures aren’t taken against this situation that is becoming a tragedy, it could mean the end of all our shellfishing activity. That means the end of the whole tradition of shellfishing in Ria Formosa.”

Commenting on the downgrading ruling, which falls under order nº 15264 of November 22 2013, the syndicate said: “The reasons for the death of clams are plain to see: the deficient functioning of ETARs” in the area, all of which have problems with their drains and pipes and “continue to run into the Ria without any treatment.”

The “downgrading” of the Ria Formosa shellfish production areas from an ‘A’ rating to a ‘B’ rating, for environmental reasons, means that instead of being able to sell clams and molluscs straight on, shellfishermen have to ensure that everything caught now goes through a purification process first – making fishermen’s lives much more complicated and reducing the income from their catches.

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