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The crisis committee of the fishing sector, made up of the Spanish Confederation of Fisheries (Cepesca), the National Federation of Provincial Associations of Retail Entrepreneurs of Fish and Frozen Products (Fedepesca) and the National Federation of Fishermen’s Guilds (FNCP), estimates that The global average losses that the alarm state has caused so far, both to the deep-sea and inshore fleets, to fish markets and to distributors and retailers are at least 30%, the organizations report in a statement. , indicated Industrias Pesqueras.
This decrease in income, which in many cases has disappeared – boats that do not operate, fish markets and shops closed -, added to the lack of financing and the difficulty in receiving state aid, “represents a loss of profitability and may lead to definitive closings and dismissals once the COVID-19 crisis is over. ”
The economic imperative has led many coastal vessels to return to work –both in the Mediterranean and in the Cantabrian Sea–, which is having “a negative impact on prices at first sale” and it is not ruled out that some fleets “have to mooring in the coming months due to the lack of a market and the consequent collapse of prices ”, as is happening in the Cantabrian Sea with anchovies.
“To understand the situation, it should be noted that in the Cantabrian fleet, after the mackerel campaign ended, the boats tried to return to fish their species of origin, but many of them, such as barnacles, hedgehogs and bivalves, were not in demand because of the closure of the HORECA channel, and there are few viable alternatives; Neither the conger eel, nor the octopus –whose campaign has been lengthened by the increase in the annual quota, prior to COVID-19–, is suitable for everyone, and the newly opened coastal anchovy, whose prices are forcing to fish, is also not a solution. Low cost – in the Basque Country the kilo of anchovy has been paid these days at € 0.04 – “, explain from Cepesca.
The situation is also not improving in the high-altitude and high-altitude fleets. Segments such as the freezer shellfish fleet or surface longline, which have continued to fish, are in many cases opting for storage due to the difficulty of placing their product on the market. “The situation of the shellfish freezer fleet in Huelva, which fishes in the waters of several African countries, serves as an example: at the moment it continues its activity, although the market is practically closed, since there are no public auctions taking place since closure of the restaurant market and, therefore, they are having to store frozen seafood, “indicate the organizations. The forecast of a collapse in prices – due to excess stored product – when the restaurant market reopens, it will generate “serious treasury problems” and portends “serious difficulties for the survival of the affected companies”. These fleets continue, like the rest of the high-altitude fleet, in addition, “with the increasingly pressing problem of crew relays, for which they urgently require detection tests.”
DISTRIBUTION AND CONSUMPTION
For its part, most of the fish markets have been open since the State of Alarm was decreed on March 14, although activity is clearly less than before the crisis. Most of the retail distributors – 10,000 fishmongers and 25,000 workers – also continue operating, “despite having two deaths from coronavirus and registering 2% of those affected by COVID-19 and another 2% in quarantine due to close contact. with confirmed cases, and the difficulties both in supplying (access restrictions to certain markets and Mercas) and in assuming home deliveries, which have multiplied to almost 80%, ”the organizations indicate.
Regarding prices, “after two weeks of certain stability, a drop in certain products is perceived”, some because they are closely associated with the HORECA channel, and others because sales in the last week have decreased in retail, due to Possibly, “that more was bought at Easter, we are at the end of the month, and economic uncertainty begins to be felt as a schedule for de-escalation is not clear.”
As for the species most in demand by consumers are: hake, sea bass, sea bream, salmon, squid, anchovies, cuttlefish, cod and sole. “Online orders, by phone and by WhatsApp, represent around 80% of the total and Bizum is prevailing as a new payment system,” the organizations indicate.
“Thus, the supply of fresh and frozen fishery products to the population is confirmed for one more week, which will continue, even if the period of confinement decreed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis continues,” added Fedepesca.