The Catalan Government supports the fishermen in their claim against the European Union’s Action Plan, which endangers the continuance of fishing activity in Catalonia. The protest, supported by the majority of the European fishing sector, denounces the fact that the new restriction on trawling activity proposed by Europe will put the survival of Catalonia’s trawling fleet and the Catalan fishing system in general at risk by affecting the viability of structures (fishermen’s guilds and fish markets), other types of fishing, the supply of produce from local fisheries and the Blue Economy of fishing towns.
The Director General for Maritime Policy and Sustainable Fisheries, Sergi Tudela, joined the protest as a sign of commitment to the continuity of Mediterranean fisheries. Tudela stressed the importance of today’s meeting, “where the Generalitat de Catalunya and the fishing sector are once again united in calling for a change in the European Fisheries Policy so that it is geared towards maintaining a sustainable fishing sector through the three aspects provided for in the policy: environmental, social and economic.
According to Tudela, “the EU has not taken into account the effort being made by the Catalan fishing sector to move towards sustainability: fishery closures of more than two months, reduction of fishing hours and fishing days by more than 40%, implementation of improvements in gear selectivity, closure of 20 fishing zones with a surface area of 500 km2, implementation of technical improvements to reduce the impact on the seabed and the consumption of diesel oil, etc.”
The Generalitat de Catalunya and fishermen, committed to preventing overfishing
Both the Catalan Government and the fishermen share the EU objective of allowing fish stocks to grow and stabilise. However, they disagree with the EU’s position which, far from finding solutions for the fishing sector, proposes a new scenario based on the elimination of the main fishing method.
The Government argues that the environmental, economic and social sustainability of fishing should be achieved by promoting the shift towards sustainability that has already begun in Catalonia, and which guarantees the maintenance of fishing populations and respect for marine ecosystems without the loss of businesses, jobs and the identity of the Blue Economy in coastal municipalities.
The Catalan model of fisheries governance based on co-management, which involves fishermen, scientists, civil society and the Government, has introduced innovative, knowledge-based measures that make it possible to maintain fishing activity while also achieving a clear impact on the recovery of fishing grounds. These are measures such as temporary fishing stoppages to coincide with the breeding seasons of the species, reductions in fishing hours, implementation of new technologies aimed at catching fish with maximum respect for underwater ecosystems, fishing gear that makes no contact with the seabed, and fishery closure and regeneration. All the measures are being incorporated as standard practice into the new fishing paradigm.
For this reason, the Government and the sector are calling on the European Commission to support the fishing sector by establishing measures that guarantee the recovery of fish stocks without destroying the sector.
Trawling, the driving force behind fishing activity in Catalonia
In 2022, landings in tonnes (7,000 t) from the trawl fleet represented 34% of the total and a first sale amount at auction of €55 million, corresponding to 58.7% of the total turnover of fish auctions. These show trawling to be the most important segment of fishing activity and one that guarantees the supply of local fishery products.