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Posted by nelson on July 20, 2017

Portugal should impose a ban on sardine fishing for at least the next 15 years to allow stocks to “return to acceptable levels”.

The drastic recommendation was made by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), which advises the European Commission on fishing quotas.
The news is certain to cause huge concern among fishermen who have already been struggling due to increasingly smaller quotas, but Portugal’s Secretary of State for Fishing does not seem to be taking the recommendation too seriously, having guaranteed that it is based on “old and incomplete data”.

The bottom line, according to ICES, is that Portugal and Spain capture too many sardines.

And even a 15-year ban could not be enough to restore sardine populations to “acceptable levels”.

The council says that the current quotas issued to the countries do not include preventive measures to limit fishing and allow stocks to rise.

Business newspaper Jornal de Negócios explains that although ICES’s opinion is not binding, it is taken into account by the EC when establishing quotas.
It is then up to countries to “argue against the recommendations” if they feel they are unfair.

This is what happened in 2015, when ICES recommended that the 2016 fishing quotas for sardines be reduced to just 1,584 tons.

After negotiating with the EC, Portugal and Spain were able to raise the quota to 17,000 tons.

The implications of a potential 15-year sardine fishing ban are hard to quantify at this point, but secretary of state José Apolinário has assured JN that researchers did not have up-to-date information on the sardine population in the centre and the north of the country when gathering data.

He also blamed declining stocks on climate change as opposed to abusive fishing, as he says Portugal has not been fishing more than in the past.