The Spanish fishing fleet has been left high and dry over transport stoppages and high fuel prices leaving hundreds of tonnes of fish unsold. Photo: Xaime Ramallal
The manager of the Organisation of Fisheries Producers (OPP) and head of the Porto de Celeiro fleet in Galicia, Spain, Jesús Lourido, confirmed that some 80 tons of fish were auctioned on yesterday morning, Monday 21 March, after a week with the fish market practically paralysed due to the strike in the transport sector.
According to Lourido, practically all the fish that was stored and had not yet been frozen was put up for auction, in the hope that it will finally reach its destination.
Last week, the Porto de Celeiro fish market, one of the most important in Galicia, was practically paralyzed and, in five days of strike, only “small quantities of fish” had been moved to supply the local market, because “the large companies”, those that move the goods to the logistics centres of Madrid, Barcelona or Zaragoza, were stopped.
The Spanish fishing fleet had been hit by transport stoppages for over a week which had prevented 200,000 kilos of hake in the ports of Celeiro and Burela in Galicia from being sold.
If the frozen hake remains unsold then the fishing fleet could stand to lose €100,000, according to Gallaecian news outlet ‘La Voz de Galicia’ who say, “this is estimated by sources in the sector who state that each of the Gran Sol vessels that have their fish blocked in the ports, or even stored in the warehouses because they have not yet been able to unload it, will assume losses of around 60,000 euros for not being able to sell the recently arrived fish . To this figure must be added the operating costs of the tide, which include, among others, bait, provisions, and fuel prices that when most of these vessels went out to fish this tide, a little over two weeks ago, had already been fired as a result of the war in Ukraine. About 40,000 euros.
On Thursday, two fishing vessels the Manolo del Terín and the Arrigorri, were due to land at dawn in Celeiro but had to keep their catch of around 30 tonnes of hake onboard as the cold rooms on the fish auction were full to capacity and that day’s auction had been suspended as there was no transport to take the fish to the main markets of Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao.
Some of the fishing boats have not returned to sea because there are no markets and coupled with diesel prices have made it economically unviable to continue.
Central government in Spain has announced that they will look to lower the price of electricity, fuel and gas on 29 March, but this has been called insufficient by those in the fishing sector.
One fisherman told, La Voz de Galicia’, “They (the government) don’t realise that we have been working the equivalent of twenty days without pay.”
Although the Spanish government offered the transport sector a €500m compensation package, the strike organisers has called the government’s offer “a joke” and have vowed to continue work stoppages.