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The modification of the device entered into force on May 4, 1994 and thus the navigation of the large merchant ships was removed up to 21.4 miles from the coast. The sector is now celebrating.
If what prevails these days on the Galician coast is a train of storms, in the decade 1981-1991 the winds were not, by far, favorable for the maritime-fishing sector. The 109 deaths recorded in the 240 accidents produced at sea and only in the area of A Costa da Morte. Most of these accidents starring fishing vessels and, to a lesser extent, merchant ships of all kinds. It was what moved the Spanish authorities to design and execute in front of that area of the Galician coast a maritime traffic separation device that determined the navigation channels of merchant ships, especially those carrying dangerous goods. But the channels established initially affected fishing boats very dangerously, and the protest was not long in coming.
On May 13, 1991, members of the fishermen’s associations of Muxía and Fisterra, coastal trawling patterns and nautical fishing graduates belonging to the Aetinape association met to start what was a long battle to get the device off the coast of control of maritime traffic that, until then, allowed the passage of large ships, many of them with dangerous cargoes on board, up to 10 miles from the coast. These boats invaded the fishing grounds in which 350 vessels of the Costa da Morte routinely and their almost 4,000 crew members also settled in this region of the province of A Coruña. Shipowners, patrons and sailors claimed more intense control than was already known as “highway”
I remember the restlessness of the majority of those summoned to this meeting held in a Muxian bar-restaurant in which, after clear and hard exposures of the situation, we ended up tasting a magnificent warm and well into the night.
The maritime traffic separator regulates the transit of ships between northern Europe and the rest of the world. When the meeting was scheduled, I circulate daily on the order of one hundred merchant ships, half of them with dangerous cargo and, of course, polluting. The old 10-mile limit affected the Gamboteiro, Pozo da Nave and A Quiniela fishing grounds. After several modifications carried out in the device, ships with dangerous cargo and those of greater size that sailed in the area, are currently forced to do so by the four lanes or channels located at 21.7 and 28.3 miles from the coast in the north or up direction, and 35.5 and 39.5 miles in the south or down direction. In each direction there is a channel for goods in general and another for ships with dangerous cargo.
The demand of sea professionals to apply the new distances from the coast was answered by the Ministry of Transportation that the requested separation was impossible given the high investment that should be made. The fishermen did not cease their claim and were able to be received by the Secretary General for Transportation Services of the Ministry of Transportation, Manuel Panadero, who gave them their support. A few days later, the Government changed its mind and presented a preliminary draft that those affected studied for presentation to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). It was thus possible to separate maritime traffic 20 miles from Cabo Touriñán and, therefore, moved away from fishing grounds to merchants.
In September, Spain submitted to the IMO the modification of the device and, in 1993, the much-requested change was established, although with some misgivings from the Government of Madrid. The modification of the device entered into force on May 4, 1994 and the navigation of large merchant ships up to 21.4 miles offshore is finally removed.
This Saturday, December 14, at the Volunteer Museum, in Muxía, an event will be held that will begin at 12.15, which will commemorate that achievement in which the sailors and Aetinape were united. And they will be again on Saturday, together with the Government delegate in Galicia, Javier Losada; the mayor of Muxía, Iago Toba; the general director of Sasemar, José Luis García Lena, and the former general secretary for Transportation Services, Manuel Panadero, in addition to the president of the nautical-fishery graduates, José Manuel Muñiz. @world