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Rich Bigeye Catches Making Azores Sell Catch To Madeira

An “extraordinary” harvest of bigeye tuna is making Azorean fishermen to commercialize the fish at Madeira Island, where the species has a better market value if sold fresh and guarantee of demand for it.

“During the first half of May we had a lot of fish, and since there was not enough absorption capacity from the Azorean market, our boats shifted to Madeira, where the fish has a better value”, stated last Thursday Helio Neves, president of the Association of Tuna Producers in Azores (APASA).

According to him, the high catches reached close to 200 M/T only this month, from vessels that during the whole last year only caught 180-220 M/T of tuna.

Mr. Neves explained that the “big quantity tuna buyers” are in Sao Miguel – an Island close to Azores – but that in Madeira, which is further away, the population and the hotels consume a lot of tuna as well. Also he took into consideration the fact that Madeira has a better exports structure with free ships and flights connections.

Moreover, Helio Neves presented the necessity to re-think the fresh fish flowage in Azores pointing as the “ideal solution” the availability of a cargo plane by the two transporting companies that detain the flight connections monopoly: SATA and TAP.

Besides facilitating the tuna flow, this solution would allow fishermen to deliver a higher quality fish. The trip to Madeira to sell the extra catches represents “seven fishing days that are lost”, Mr. Neves added.  

APASA has 13 associates, owners of 17 tuna vessels from 25 to 30 meters. Those vessels represent 26,7% of Azorean tuna fleet, which operate six months per year – starting with bigeye season in March, when the water is colder.