Spain: €381 million-investment plan for the modernization of the fishing sector
The sectoral organization Cepesca has estimated at €381 million the investment needed for the structural reform of the Spanish fishing production model and the development of a more competitive, resilient and sustainable activity.
Cepesca, the most important national fishing business organization in Europe, wants to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the so-called "Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan" that the Spanish government has designed to channel the €140 billion of European funds that will reach Spain over the next years.
The coronavirus crisis has fully affected the fishing industry. A sector that has withstood the effects of the pandemic with price reductions, difficulty in accessing international markets and lack of crew replacement in foreign ports.
Many fishing companies have assumed in the past months losses in their profitability, which have forced them to do without workers.
The aid offered by Brussels to member states to recover their economies is "an opportunity for reflection and determination of the strategic priorities of the sector to make a more competitive, resilient and sustainable industry," according to Cepesca.
Cepesca and Deliotte have defined the strategic lines of the sector and the direction that the fishing industry must take to ensure its future. The sectoral organization, which has already presented its "Recovery Plan for the fishing sector" to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, considers necessary (1) the digital transformation, (2) the sustainability of fishing activities, and (3) social cohesion and the guarantee of generational replacement. For this, in the next three years, they need €381 million of what Brussels has granted to Spain from the NextGenerationEU recovery plan.
This amount would be distributed as follows: (1) €142.8 million for technological transformation, (2) €179.3 million would go to sustainability, and (3) the remaining €58.8 million would go to social cohesion and stability of the sector.
- Boosting technological development in digital transformation: accessibility, analysis and use of data and on-board connectivity is a priority to adapt companies and their professionals to more dynamic, innovative and competitive contexts.
This strategic line includes blockchain or artificial intelligence to, among other things, improve the traceability of fishery products, optimizing and digitizing production and organizational systems throughout the value chain; as well as launching an online training platform with training courses for onboard crews and shore-based personnel.
2. The second challenge is focused on ensuring food supply with minimum environmental impact. Working on the transition towards a decarbonization of the energy model, reducing marine pollution by promoting the reuse of nets and plastic utensils. Moving towards a circular economy that integrates environmental sustainability at all stages of the value chain.
To achieve these objectives, it will be necessary to equip vessels with new waste management equipment; building more efficient ships with better onboard conditions, and seek alternative fuels to reduce the carbon footprint.
3. Finally, it is necessary to promote social cohesion in the sector and guarantee the continuity of fishing activity by supporting training, improving employability and incorporating women and young people into the sector.
In this sense, Cepesca considers that working conditions on board should be improved, increasing spaces for crews, and supporting initiatives to hire people under 35 years of age, women and foreign workers.
Problems affecting the sector
Together with the Plan presented by the fishing employers' association, a diagnosis of the main problems affecting the sector were included:
- Shortage of crewmembers and the lack of generational replacement.
- The age of a large part of the fleet, especially in the Galician inshore fleet.
- The fall in fish consumption, estimated at 20% in the last 10 years.
- The "unfair competition" from some fleets such as the Asian fleet.
- "Some 1,000 regulations which are stifling the fishing sector".