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Management plan seeks to reverse sardine 'worrying' situation


Sardine catch. (Photo: Juan Murias/Copyright: FIS)
Click on the flag for more information about Spain SPAIN
Friday, August 15, 2014, 23:30 (GMT + 9)

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (MAGRAMA) approved a management plan for Iberian sardine (Sardina pilchardus) catches in the waters of zones VIIIc and IXa of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).
These areas correspond to the Cantabrian northwest, from the Basque Country in the estuary of Bidasoa, to Finisterre; and the Spanish part of Finisterre to the border with Portugal, waters from that country and the Gulf of Cádiz, respectively.
The Iberian sardine is caught in Spanish and Portuguese waters by the fleets of both nations.
Under the new order published in the Official State Gazette (BOE), the affected fleet can fish for sardine until exhausting the total catch provided by the operating rule for Iberian waters.
No distribution or maximum catch quotas are considered by the autonomous regions (Andalusia, Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country) or by boats.
The ministry explains that the current stock status of the Iberian sardine is worrying because in recent years there has been a marked decline in the spawning stock biomass, which could jeopardize the viability and sustainability of this resource. He notes that for this reason, all the scientific information available to date recommends measures that could lead to a recovery of the stock.
The Spanish Government submits that the new three-year plan is more advantageous, and it will help to address the plight of the sardine stock and lay the foundation for recovery.
The plan sets 48-hour weekly rest in the North Cantabrian fishing grounds and 58-hour breaks in the Gulf of Cadiz.
The maximum annual catch of sardines will be fixed in a pattern, considering the stock biomass as the estimated biomass of the specimens that are older than one year, obtained from the assessment model of ICES working group last year:
  • When the stock biomass is below 135,000 tonnes, the TAC shall be zero, that is to say, no catches are permitted;
  • When stock biomass is between 135,000 and 368,400 tonnes, the TAC shall be determined by the formula TAC=0.36 * (BIOMASS -135,000);
  • When the stock biomass exceeds 368,400 tonnes, the TAC shall be equal to 86,000 tonnes.
The General Secretariat of Fisheries explained that based on the "operation rule agreed between Spain and Portugal it would be possible to capture up to 20,500 tonnes of sardines this year compared to 17,100 tonnes proposed by the ICES."
"The reduction thus would be 55 per cent compared to 46,000 tonnes captured last year by the fleets of Spain and Portugal," he added.
The new plan was not welcomed by Acerga purse seine majority partnership. According to the statement expressed by its spokesperson, Andrés García, the sector was "misplaced and disappointed" with the Order because it feels that "the meetings and hours spent working were not worth to agree on the quality and protect the species with TAC alternatives."
However, the fisheries authorities reported that, in addition to the Order, they are working to "reach a consensus on the various proposals made by the sector, such as the implementation of technical measures that contribute to a sustainable management of the resource stock."
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