Olhão Fishing Cooperative blames 'lack of dredging' for member's death

riaformosaThe failure to dredge key sections of the Ria Formosa has enabled siltation and sand bars to impede the flow of water and boats in and out of the natural area.

This situation led to the death this week of a local fisherman from Olhão, according to the Cooperativa de Viveiristas da Ria Formosa (FORMOSA).


The sand bank was instrumental in the sinking of the fishing vessel and the death of a fisherman who fell overboard and drowned this Tuesday, warned the Cooperative.

In a hard hitting statement, the Cooperative spokesman explained that applications for dredging both key navigation channels of the Ria Formosa date back to 1999.

In 2013 it criticized the fact that this dredging had been placed third in the priorities for the area and needless to say the Algarve's needs have skillfully been avoided by Lisbon's political landlubbers.

At the time, "we realise that the desilting of the Lavajo area was dependent on the approval of the Detailed Plan for Faro Beach and the resolution of the problems caused by the sanitation and water pipelines that had been laid to Culatra and Armona islands," said the cooperative, indicating the excuse given for the last delay.

The warning from FORMOSA reinforces the position of the Southern Fishing Union which on Tuesday criticised the Minister of Agriculture and Sea, Assunçao Cristas who said that fishermen "should not risk going out in rough sea conditions."

This comment was alomst designed to cause deep offence to fishermen up and along the country's coastline who do not have the financial luxury of a ministerial salary and chauffeured cars to be able to choose only pleasant days on which to go to work. 

The Union today issued a statement criticising the lack of funds in the 2015 State Budget for dredging in key points along the Algarve coast and said that this week’s fatal accident happened on the Armona sand  bar which has been silting up for a dozen years or more despite complaints.

"The problem of silting along the Algarve coast deserves greater attention from the Minister and the government, so that no more accidents or shipwrecks happen and so there is no further increase in the number of deaths among fishermen. It is with great concern that we see in next year’s budget no funding at all for dredging the Algarve's silted up harbours and sandbars."

Along the coast to the east the dredging contract for the Guadiana sandbar finally has been awarded, mainly due to Spanish management, expertise, committment and money - the three ket elements sadly lacking from Portugal's approach to this easy to solve problem.

The Junta de Andalucía, through the Public Ports Agency of Andalucía, this week awarded the work of dredging the Guadiana bar in a contract worth €723,000.

The work will be done by the Spanish company Sociedade Anónima de Trabalhos e Obras (SATO), which has three months to complete the contract from the date of signing the contract.

The Portuguese government promises much and does nothing. Pires de Lima, Minister for the Economy, on his inaugural tour of the south pledged that there would be dredging works to deepen and widen access to Portimão harbour and Faro docks.

The sum total progress to date is perhaps some early work on a report into Portimão's harbour entrance area, a report which no doubt will remain submerged until safely after the next election and even then there will be no money as it is 'not in the budget.'

Interestingly the Minister for Agriculture and the Sea heard the news of the Olhão fisherman’s death this week as she visited the Port of Povoa de Varzim, Oporto where €750,000 has been spend this year alone on dredging.

The Minister said that the next state budget includes funding for dredging in the fishing ports affected by siltation, the fishing union says that the Algarve has been left off the list yet again.

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