By Chris Dove, SeafoodSource.com contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain
Published on 02 January, 2012
This year got off to a bright start for Spanish fishermen. Over the course of three days — coinciding with the inauguration of Spain’s new prime minister, Galicia-born Mariano Rajoy — the nation’s largest fishing region was granted EUR 58 million (USD 76 million) in aid from Galicia’s Ministry of the Sea, funded by the European Union.
The funding includes EUR 19 million (USD 24.7 million) for marketing and processing, EUR 16 million (USD 20.8 million) to further enhance aquaculture production, EUR 11 million (USD 14.3 million) to buy back fishing vessels and support crew, i.e. producer organizations; EUR 7 million (USD 9.1 million) for fleet modernization and EUR 5 million (USD 6.5 million) for more energy efficient vessels.
The sum allocated for marketing and processing will support the commercialization of existing seafood products as well as making better use of underutilized species, diversifying into new species and identifying new market opportunities. Better production standards are also key as Galicia moves into higher-quality products for niche markets, product innovation and the application of new technologies.
Aquaculture grants aim to enhance competitiveness with eligible projects relating to the construction, expansion, equipping and modernization of facilities, new species diversification and new markets. Initiatives to improve working conditions and safety that contribute to environmental conservation will also be funded. An allocation of EUR 120,000 (USD 157,000) is available to meet the expenses of the Fish Farmers’ Organization.
As well as subsidizing the cessation of fishing activities within the high-seas fleet, funds will be allocated to the suspension of vessels included in the 2012 integrated coastal fisheries management plan of the northwest Bay of Biscay fishery. This will help workers affected by restructuring to support their conversion to alternative employment via socio-economic activities.
To promote energy efficiency in light of high fuel costs, investment will optimize energy generation in relation to demand, promote the use of residual energy and vessels’ reduced fuel consumption. Improvements to ship hulls that do not involve total or partial renewal are eligible, while fleet modernization will make fishing “more competitive and profitable.”
Companies and organizations have until 31 January to submit applications for marketing, processing and aquaculture grants, while restructuring applications from trawlers on the third list of registered vessels are open until 15 March.