José Carlos Barros and Cristóvão Norte, Algarve Social Democratic Party MPs, have questioned the government on its approval of the Guadiana River and Minho River Fisheries Agreements, (Acordos Fronteiriços de Pesca do Rio Guadiana e do Rio Minho) which will be in force for at least five years.
According to the MPs, “it is unacceptable that the process has not been the subject of public debate and after a thorough evaluation of the previous agreement, taking into account the known and widespread criticism of fishermen and industry associations of the activities of the Spanish fishing fleet in Portuguese waters.”
These criticisms stem from the clear view that, “the conditions laid down in the agreements are more favorable to Spanish fishermen than to Portuguese fishermen, since, in view of the over-exploitation and less abundance of resources in the neighboring areas, our fishermen do not make full use of the licences under the agreements.”
Barros and Norte also point out that, “it is the current practice of Spanish fishermen and shipowners to disregard the rules, namely those covering fishing hours, daily catch limits, minimum catch sizes for some species and the limits of fishing areas,” which leave Portuguese fishermen and shipowners at a competitive disadvantage.
At the same time, the MPs point out that the lack of monitoring by the Portuguese authorities are well known and which creates, “a climate of apparent impunity and frequent situations of conflict.”
“It is within this framework of widespread criticism that the Government has just approved a new agreement with Spain, without public debate and, as far as is known, without assessing the conditions of compliance with the previous agreement … this decision – already incomprehensible in the face of the described framework – it is all the more serious if we take into account that the previous conditions, both in terms of the fishing zones and the number of licences allocated, are maintained in full,” the MPs stated last Friday12th April.