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Basque Fishermen Sell Their Tuna Quota To Trap Net Fishery In Barbate

The Almadrabas or  trap net fishery in Barbate (Cádiz), a  J/V company of Grupo Petacas Chico SL and Ricardo Fuentes, bought all the bluefin tuna fishing quota from the Spanish regions of Basque and  Cantabria: a total of 450 M/T.

The Basque fleet agreed due to the fact that the drop in quota and available bluefin tuna made this fishery unprofitable for them. In 2012, they already sold 70 percent of their quota to a company in Murcia to obtain alternative income.

Pedro Munoz, of the Petacas Chico group, confirmed after this deal the fishermen in Barbate this year will now have a quota of 700 M/T, compared to 180 M/T last year.

According to Munoz, “it was necessary to take the plunge and we have done so, we have taken a step forward and assumed the risks of the transaction. We believe that there is sufficient tuna and now what we need is to be able to capture those nearly 700 tons.”

The Basque fishermen are to cash almost Euro 5 million, which will be shared equally among the owners and crew of the 43 inshore vessels of the Basque fleet.

The sale was completed by telephone, although the agreement was drafted in Brussels last week with the Secretary of the Fishermen's Association of the Basque Country. Then, the contracts were signed and sent to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Magrama).

Some say that the agreement is good even for the species, since the almadraba fishers capture only mature tuna that are over 14 years, weighing an average of 150-200 kilos, while the Basque fishermen “catch younger, often juvenile bluefin, which weigh 40 to 50 kilos or less.”

The deal will make Barbate the leading farming location in Andalusia, because the caught almadraba tuna will likely be fattened in farms where the 700 M/T will reach nearly 1,000 M/T in final weight. This will imply an increase in jobs, which is important for an area where the unemployment rate is very high.

About 30,000 kilos of mackerel is needed daily to feed the captured bluefin, so people are needed to fish, freeze, and thaw these mackerel and to feed them to the tuna.