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Sea Institute calls on Algarve’s fishermen to aid in research to save sardine populations

fish researchPELAGO20, a research campaign to “determine the abundance and spatial distribution of coastal pelagic fish, in particular sardines and anchovies”, began on March 4th, along the Portuguese continental shelf and in the Gulf of Cadiz. The campaign takes place mainly on board the NI Miguel Oliver research vessel, which transports the researchers and technicians from the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and the Atmosphere (IPMA) responsible for the study, who are acting in cooperation with the IEO (Spanish Institute of Oceanography).

This PELAGO campaign takes place every year in the spring, with the objective of assessing the status of local fish and analysing the environmental factors that affect their survival.

This year, the NI Miguel Oliver vessel is being accompanied by several fishing vessels from small sections along the coast. “Eternal Sea”, “Avô Varela” and “Porti Pesca” are the fishing vessels that have helped with the sampling carried out thus far, assisting in the finding of schools of fish so that they can be screened by scientists. With this in mind, they are calling on local Algarvean fishermen to aid in their research due to their strong local knowledge of the sea.

The information collected on board the NI Miguel Oliver is intended to contribute to the recovery of the struggling sardine populations, as well as enhancing the sustainability of fishing.

According to IPMA, “the data obtained in the PELAGO campaign, to estimate the sardine and anchovy populations, contribute to substantiate the measures to be adopted by the government that establish the fishing quotas for the next year”. The PELAGO20 campaign, which will finish towards the end of the month.

Its results are analysed annually within the scope of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) to make recommendations on the allowable catches of sardines and anchovies that strongly affect the incomes of local fishermen.

According to a note from the Secretary of State for Fisheries, “this campaign is very important for assessing the status of the sardine resource, following the good indicators obtained in the campaign carried out in the last quarter of 2019”. The redoubled effort that has been made in research since 2015, with two annual scientific campaigns and the implementation of the specific research project (Sardinha 2020), has also brought good indicators to help in the careful management of sardine populations..

According to the latest ICES report, sardine populations (fish with 1 or more years of age) recovered 52% between 2015 (117.9 thousand tons) and 2019 (179.4 thousand tons), reaching a level of identical to that of 2011.

“These results confirm the effectiveness of the efforts made by the governments in Portugal and Spain, within the scope of a joint Management Plan, adjusting fishing possibilities to the state of the resource using scientific advice”, adds the same statement.

The Government reaffirms in the statement that “it will support the setting of management measures and catch limits in line with the scientific advice and objectives set out in the Common Fisheries Policy, considering the economic and social impacts, but seeking to ensure sustainable use of the sardine resource”.