The Algarve’s MPs have as one demanded that parliament's Maritime and Agricultural Commission urgently talk to the various bodies that oversee the Ria Formosa due to the surprise downgrading of many shellfish production areas.
"The MPs will apply to the Commission to conduct hearings in Olhão with those authorities and industry associations that oversee the Ria Formosa," read a statement from the socialist party in the Algarve today.
One concern is that the move is a pre-oil and gas downgrading of shellfish banks in preparatrion for chemical infiltration of the area when gas extraction starts.
Mayors, especially the mayor of Olhão, and the president of the Administração da Região Hidrográfica do Algarve (ARH) should be heard urgently as many shellfish production areas already have been downgraded with the publication of Order No.15,264 of November 22,2013.
This decree has reclassified some shellfish areas and has the shellfishermen up in arms, with the Union of Southern Fishermen questioning the changes contained in the act, claiming unnecessarily increased production costs.
Last week MP Cristóvão Norte requested the presence in parliament of the Secretary of State for the Sea, and the president of the Portuguese Institute of Ocean and Atmosphere for everyone to "know the reasons that led to the reclassification of these production areas for bivalves."
MP Miguel Freitas said the reclassification will have a "significant regional impact" because about 2,000 jobs in the Algarve region are now at risk."
The new law seems to have come about after monitoring was carried out in line with new EU regulations and current national legislation, which ended up with the disqualification of some areas previously rated A where bivalves can be picked and sold for human consumption, to B where bivalves can be picked and send for pre-sale cleaning, or sent for factory processing.
Several areas in the Ria Formosa that have been classified as B for 20 years or more have suddenly been downgraded which will hinder the sale of bivalves and increase costs of production.
Maybe this would also be a good time for those in charge of the Ria Formosa to look at the source of many of the classification problems which is the pumping of sewage into the otherwise pristine area due to inadequate or non-existent treatment plants.