The FIP BLUES fishing improvement project starts in 2019 with the aim of improving the environmental sustainability of the surface longline fishery. Made up of the Burela Fishing Producers Organisation (OPP BURELA), the Organisation of Longliners (ORPAGU), the Organisation of Fishing Producers of the Port and Estuary of Marín (OPROMAR), the National Longline Producers Organisation (OPP BURELA), the National Longline Producers Organisation of Marín (OPROMAR) and the National Longline Producers Organisation of Marín (OPROMAR), the Organización de Productores Nacional de Palangre de Altura (OPNAPA) and the Asociación Nacional de Empresas Comercializadoras y Transformadoras de Especies Altamente Migratorias (ANECTEAM), is working on the basis of an action plan to improve the performance indicators established in the MSC fishing certification standard, for which it has dedicated technical staff.

This Tuesday 4th July FIP BLUES was presented in the European Parliament (EP) to present the evolution of the project and, above all, to provide information and objective data that dismantle the biased view on this fishery that currently exists within the EP’s own Committee on Fisheries.

This initiative is progressing positively through the implementation of various management measures, good practices on board and tasks related to the fisheries strategy, such as the increase of scientific observation data (physical and electronic) to improve the scientific analysis of target species, training workshops for the management and release of ETP species such as other sharks, turtles, marine mammals and birds among many other measures.

In addition, the project is making progress in other areas, as from the end of 2021 it contemplates and works for the social sustainability of the fishery, implementing an action plan to improve the social conditions of the vessels involved in the project. Improvements in the habitability of the vessels, working conditions and profitability are some of the aspects addressed in this action plan.

Before MEPs of the EP Fisheries Committee, representatives of the fleet were able to refute with objective data, many of the arguments used by the citizens’ initiative “Stop finning, stop trade” which aims to limit the trade in sharks caught by the European fleet by prohibiting the marketing of bodies and fins separately, without distinguishing between the different species, and without taking into account the existing and applied regulations (ad hoc European regulations, CITES Convention, RFMO Recommendations…), which guarantee the traceability and transparency of the trade in blue sharks, a species which, together with swordfish, accounts for 90% of the catches of this fleet in all the oceans of the world. ), which guarantees the traceability and transparency of the trade in blue sharks, a species which, together with swordfish, accounts for 90% of the catches of this fleet in all the world’s oceans.

Ana Miranda, Francisco Millán Mon, as well as representatives of the Spanish Government in Brussels from the Permanent Representation of Spain in Brussels, took note of the progress of the project and even suggested the possibility of presenting the project to the Fisheries Committee of the Parliament in the last quarter of this year.

The difficulty of communicating any positive information on blue shark fisheries to members of the Fisheries Committee and the European Parliament in general was also raised by MEPs.

The EU countries, which, by the way, are barely represented in this fishery, have totally mistaken ideas about the use of blue sharks, which they assimilate to other sharks and generalise as if it were a single species, when in reality there are many different species, with different behaviour and substantial differences in their fisheries management. They also deny the full exploitation of this species, claiming that only its fins are consumed in the Asian market, and therefore that the fleet engages in finning, an execrable practice consisting of cutting off the fins and discarding the bodies, which the European fleet does not do.

In this presentation, a video was shown showing the handling of the species and testimonies from fishermen on how the blue shark is processed on board, demonstrating compliance with the fins attached regulation. It was also pointed out that blue shark is a species that is widely consumed in several countries around the world, such as Brazil and Spain, where, for example, there are traditional recipes such as “bien-me-sabe”, which is made mainly with this species.

The FIP BLUES delegation in Brussels appreciates the timely submission due among other things to the Commission’s pronouncement on the above-mentioned citizens’ initiative today, 5 July. FIP BLUES will continue to work to provide rigorous, data-driven information on the fishery and its marketing in order to enable informed decision-making, which nowadays is often based on emotional arguments rather than on objective and truthful facts.