Tensions rise in Galicia over mussel farming

More than 50 procedures governing floating fish farms within Galicia waters are under scrutiny by the regional government. This follows location transfer requests by mussel-boat operators seeking to abandon less productive areas, as parts of the region’s seven rivers are prone to the accumulation of marine biotoxins.

Spain’s High Court of Justice has recently seen a significant increase in the number of transfer requests from floating mussel nurseries petitioning for new locations and demanding a shift in production, as well as from oyster farmers aiming to diversify to mussel production.

The cases follow sightings of boats not conforming to their accurate anchor positioning, aiming to outdo rival companies and avoid administrative controls to secure better positions along estuaries and in deeper waters where feeding habitats ensure larger quantities and faster mussel growth.

Biotoxins can cause havoc in the rivers, which led Rosa Quintana, the region’s fisheries minister, to look at reorganizing the shellfish farming process and reconsider a maritime-zone management plan. This will take an integrated approach to aquaculture management through the characterization of areas suitable for aquaculture.

The plan will also regulate permitted species, compatibility and any prohibitions, including interim suspensions while the relocation of nurseries is considered. It is seen as a preventive measure until the administration and the entire industry is in a position to better manage mussel cultivation.

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