LOCAL fishermen are once again up in arms regarding the latest restrictions to commercial activities in the region, coupled with significant delays in payment and other deficiencies which have reduced a once-proud fleet of around 200 trawlers to little more than 50 in just a single decade.
The latest remonstrations were concerned with the decision to ban fishing for octopus from September 2016, with the species accounting for 60 per cent of their income.
Paradoxically, while European reports suggest that 93 per cent of Mediterranean fishing grounds are exhausted, fishermen from the port of Caleta de Velez are adamant that octopus catches have doubled in the last six years, up from 66,000 kilos in 2010 to 142,200 in 2015.
The fishermen made a stand on Friday May 13, in a protest which first led them to the local prefectures in Malaga, before they made a beeline for the Andalucian Executive headquarters, with local and regional officials pledging to raise the issue in Madrid.
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Rural Development delegate Javier Salas said that the Junta de Andalucia regional government is aware of the issue, blaming the forthcoming ban on obligatory changes to the Mediterranean Management Plan.
The Caleta fishermen say that all octopus weighing less than a kilo are returned to the sea alive, as per current directives, and that this has allowed a “regeneration of the fishing grounds,” exemplified by the doubling of catches in recent years.
They added that in certain parts of the coast there are only octopus at some times of year, many of which are sold for the classic ‘pulpo a la gallega’ dish.