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Oil exploration: 'the Algarve's tourism industry will be preserved' claims Secretary of State for Fisheries

fishingNorthSeaThe Secretary of State for Fisheries, José Apolinário, wants to double the turnover of the maritime economy, mainly through increasing the number of fish farms.

Apolinário addressed the Rotary Club of Praia da Rocha on Tuesday evening to explain the government’s position on all things maritime.

Covering the subject of oil and gas exploration offshore along much of the Algarve’s currently pristine coastline, the Secretary of State followed the party line and stated that the government needs to know whether there is gas and oil out there and sees no problems with balancing an oil and gas industry with the region’s single industry, tourism, while stating that “we want to preserve the economic profile of the Algarve," while not suggesting how this would be made possible as, of course, he has no idea.

In his address, José Apolinário spoke mainly on the economy of the sea, worth an estimated €4.6 billion which he said was not nearly enough and falls far short of its potential with the government aiming to double this income by 2020 by expanding maritime tourism, claiming that recent legislation has made it easy and for small maritime tourism businesses to set up and develop - a claim not supported by many small marine tourism businesses.

Fish farms have an "enormous growth potential," according to Apolinário who did not reflect on the recent vociferous objections from traditional fishing businesses along the Algarve that large fish farm exclusion zones are reducing their traditional fishing areas.

The Secretary of State promised more investment in the region’s port infrastructure, an area successfully sidelined under the management of the region’s ports from an office in Sines, and a greater involvement of municipalities in the management of coastal areas despite the recent mayoral outcry and objection to the latest coastal plan submitted by the Algarve’s regional environmental body under the leadership of ‘demolition man’ Sebastião Teixeira.

As an ambassador sent from Lisbon, remembering that “an ambassador is an honest gentleman sent to lie abroad for the good of his country” (Sir Henry Wotton, 1604), José Apolinário follows a long tradition of politically motivated suits who fails to listen to those in the Algarve affected by his policies.