Diesel, the demand to reduce VAT, generational renewal and the agreement with Morocco stand out among the challenges of 2023 for the Spanish fishing sector, within a calendar full of dates and important legislative reforms.
The fleet has started the year seeing the consequences of the Government’s measures to alleviate the war in Ukraine, including aid to the sector after the end of the discount of 20 ceel diesel and VAT reductions that did not benefit seafood.
But 2023 will also be the year of the renewal of the agreement with Morocco, the new Spanish Law on Sustainable Fisheries or European Union (EU) regulations that augur more environmental restrictions.
DIESEL AND AID
The price of diesel has skyrocketed in the last week, the first full without the discount of 20 cents per liter.
But the Government has maintained support for the fleet to alleviate the cost of fuel through specific aid that shipowners and brotherhoods appreciate, but recognize that the discount at the pump of the ports was more effective.
The secretary general of the employers of shipowners Cepesca, Javier Garat, explained to Efe that for the reception of aid there will be a slower procedure, with the presentation of applications between February and March and, for those who meet the requirements, the reception will be in “June, July or August”.
The employers and associations of fishermen, manufacturers, trade and fish farmers have started 2023 by addressing the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, to lower the VAT on fish from 10% reduced to 4% “super-reduced”.
Fishermen expect the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) to publish an opinion this month on controversial bottom fishing bans imposed by the European Commission (EC) in 87 areas of the north-east Atlantic.
Following the scientific report, consultations will begin; the Community Scientific and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) will decide in March or April and then the EC will make a new proposal.
The closures will last at least the first semester and in addition, the fleet fears that the scientific reports provided by Spain will be interpreted by Brussels in a way that “not only alleviates but harms,” according to Garat.
The new Sustainable Fisheries Law, which must be examined by the Senate, introduces changes to the distribution of quotas and the reserve of fishing opportunities in the hands of the Administration, which Congress softened.
MOROCCO AND OTHER EU RULES
The agreement between the EU and Morocco, which offers licenses for 128 ships (92 Spanish), expires this summer and negotiations to renew it will be conditioned by a ruling that must be pronounced by the Court of Justice of the EU.
The EU judges will rule again on the agreement and on the appeal filed by the European side against the 2021 judgment of the General Court of the EU, favorable to the Polisario Front and contrary to the partnership and fisheries agreements with the Maghreb country, for exploiting resources of Western Sahara.
On the other hand, the EU negotiates the revision of the fisheries control regulation in which the most sensitive issues are the installation of cameras inside vessels and geo-location obligations.
In addition, the EC must present its proposal to reform the Community Fisheries Policy (CFP), although the Community Executive is not in favor of major changes, only tweaks and in addition, its current mandate ends in 2024.