António Pina, the mayor of Olhão, is ‘hoping’ that the downgraded production areas for shellfish in the Ria Formosa area of the eastern Algarve can be changed if the the Government intervenes at European Union level.
"We hope that the situation can be changed. The Secretary of State for the Sea has committed himself to intercede with the European Union and negotiate an exception for the Ria Formosa area, or insist that the EU justifies why the area has been downgraded," said Pina.
Representatives of the council areas affected by the EU downgrading, Olhão, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António, and various associations and organisations in the fishing industry, went to see the Secretary of State last Friday to ask for his intervention as the new classification for shellfish production areas puts at risk the livelihoods of an estimated 2,500 people.
"We feel that the Secretary of State was impressed with the arguments presented and showed a willingness to find a solution that minimises the problems for people dependent on this activity," said António Pina.
A government order dated November 22nd reclassified many shellfish production areas on the orders of Brussels whose scientists had carried out independent water tests showing a high level of colloids from untreated sewage.
According to the mayor of Olhão the government order downgraded over 90% of the shellfishing areas from A grade to B and C grade which precludes sale of shellfish to the public.
"We now look to the Government, backed up by analysis and further studies, to negotiate a solution or ask the European Union in Brussels for an exemption to show the Ria Formosa is not a public health issue."