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Safety of Algarve fishermen is at risk

SAFETY OF ALGARVE FISHERMEN IS AT RISKAlgarve fishermen are increasingly concerned for their safety, due to dredging promised for 2023 not having begun yet, worsening safety conditions substantially, especially in the Tavira and Fuseta bars.

The Lusa news agency spoke to representatives of several fishermen's associations along the Algarve coast yesterday and everyone expressed their concern, complaining about the lack of dredging at the entrance to the ports which, in some cases, forces local fishermen to have to wait for the high tide.

“Dredging has not yet started, and along the coast the security conditions are worsening, with the most serious cases being the situation in the Tavira and Fuseta bars,” the president of the Algarve Fisheries Producers Organization told Lusa. 

In August 2023, the Government approved a budget of 6.9 million euros for the dredging and maintenance of ports in the Algarve, to be carried out between 2023 and 2026, authorizing the General Directorate of Natural Resources, Security and Maritime Services ( DGRM ) to incur this expense.

The director of Olhão Pesca, which groups together owners of 184 vessels, expressed concern about “navigability and safety problems”, recalling that, until around 30 years ago, the former Port and Maritime Transport Institute had a dredger working permanently throughout the year, desilting the Algarve's navigation channels.

“Maintenance was constant and that is over. We should return to the methods of the past and the administration that manages the bars should have the capacity to dredge whenever they want”, he said, considering that the 6.9 million euros approved by the Government “are not even enough to dredge two bars”.

The resolution approved by the Council of Ministers last August indicates the fishing and recreational boating ports in the region that should deserve attention: Baleeira (Vila do Bispo), Lagos, Alvor (Portimão), the fishing port, shipyards and the Ferragudo (Lagoa), Albufeira, Vilamoura and Quarteira (Loulé), Faro - with the exception of the commercial port area and access channel -, Olhão, Fuseta (Olhão), Tavira and the Santa Luzia and Cabanas (Tavira) channels.

Sónia Olim, from the Fuseta Fishing Shipowners Association agrees that “there must be a dredger working continuously”.

“There is no point in having occasional dredging, because after a few years we have the same problem again”, said the person in charge, adding that “when the tide is low, boats cannot enter or leave the Fuseta bar and they remain dry in the canal” in which they shelter.

The Association of Fishing Shipowners of Fuseta, a fishing village in the municipality of Olhão, has around 90 artisanal fishing shipowners with vessels between 6and 14 metres in length.

The Ria Formosa lagoon system, which extends between the municipalities of Loulé and Vila Real de Santo, in the eastern (eastern) Algarve, with sand in permanent movement, poses particular problems.

In the west the coasts are more rocky, but the extensive Meia Praia, right next to Lagos, is responsible for the silting of the city's shore.

“Climate change and the increase in the southeast wind coming from North Africa, after four or five months the sand at Meia Praia is once again causing problems at the bar, preventing many boats from unloading at the fish market at any time” , reported Fábio Mateus, from the Barlavento Fishing Shipowners Cooperative.

This shipowner assured that dredging “does not solve the problem” and that, in this case, it would be better to “extend the length of the entrances to Lagos”.

The Council of Ministers established that funds of approximately 60 thousand euros were allocated for 2023, 2 million euros for 2024, 2.5 million for 2025 and 2.3 million for 2026.

According to the Government, carrying out maintenance dredging to ensure navigability in fishing and recreational boating ports is “of the utmost importance” to guarantee access conditions to these ports and the safety of vessels and crew.


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