March 3, 2021

The tuna fleet demands priority in vaccination against Covid for its 1,200 crew members




The Spanish tuna fleet, grouped in the Organization of Associated Producers of Large Tuna Freezers (OPAGAC), has asked the Government and the autonomous communities priority in vaccination for their 1,200 crew, of which 650 are foreigners and 550 nationals. All this, with the need to operate the relief of hundreds of sailors in the first half of this year, through the ports of Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Victoria (Seychelles) and Manta (Ecuador).

In this sense, the managing director of OPAGAC Julio Morón, has pointed out during a virtual meeting with the media that they are already talking with the Cespesca fishing association to join forces in front of the health authorities. Plan B? «What plan can you have if you don’t have vaccines and we can’t buy them on the market? The autonomous communities say that everything depends on the National Vaccination Plan “, comments Morón who points out that” the Spanish fleet can work in bubble shape » although when fishing in the high seas the tralasdos become “more complex”.

From the sector, this request is justified in the resolution of the UN General Assembly on December 1, which called for the recognition of fishermen as essential workers. A decision they have already made 45 countries, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Prices “stagnant” since October

All this, Morón added, in a market that despite the «increase in domestic consumption», the margin for the fleet is narrowing more and more due «toAsian tuna loins imports » through the contingent of third countries and which makes, in the opinion of the representatives of OPAGAC, “that the price stagnates since October.” This year they foresee imports of up to 50,000 tons, mainly closed in the first week of January, and that sand benefit from the 35,000-ton quota of tuna agreed with third countries such as China or Taiwan.

In this regard, Morón has warned that “the tariff is prorated over the total amount and that importers are still compensated even though the price increases by 9% over the original price, it is much cheaper than European ». Specifically, producing a ton of cooked tuna loin in Spain costs about 4,100 euros while in Asia the price is around 3,100 euros.

In this sense, from the organization that groups the Spanish tuna fleet, they have regretted that they continue to operate with “Late 20th century prices” and that Brussels is not able to stand up to China. “Fish must be valued with European standards and processed,” he pointed out, fearing future job losses in the canning industry in places like Galicia.

Fisheries management problems

In addition, the Covid is impacting the operation of the Regional Fisheries Organizations (RFOs) that determine the management of fisheries as well as control measures. Specifically, it is urgent to adopt urgent measures in species such as bigeye (Atlantic Ocean) and yellowfin (Indian Ocean). But also, in the monitoring system that is carried out with human observers and that, due to the restrictions derived from the fight against the virus, is being stopped. The Spanish tuna fleet has opted for the electronic monitoring and ensures that 100% of its vessels are covered by physical or electronic observers. In this sense, it has denounced that other fleets meet these requirements.

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