Farmers vs Fishermen

One of the main complaints made by farmers who have been protesting and have plans to continue to do so, is the importation of produce from Morocco.

MOT Farmers Protesting over TomatoesThe reason that the EU allows Morocco to export their tomatoes to Europe is because Morocco has fishing grounds that are very attractive to EU fishing boats, especially Spanish ones.

Now, it might be worth pointing out that back in the 80s, Spain had the biggest fishing fleet in the world, second only to the Soviet Union, and this fishing industry fished out the Mediterranean fishing grounds before moving on to the North Sea, the Western coast of Africa and even the Atlantic off Canada.

Some of you might even remember the international scandal in 1995 where a Spanish trawler was caught keeping two catch logs; one official and one what they were really pulling out as well as oversized nets. This fish was fletan (Atlantic halibut) and the incident was known as The Turbot War taking place just outside Canada’s declared 200-nautical-mile (370 km) exclusive, economic zone (EEZ). Canada claimed that European Union factory ships were illegally overfishing Greenland halibut (also known as Greenland turbot) on the Grand Banks.

It all kicked off on 9 March 1995, an offshore patrol aircraft detected the Spanish stern trawler Estai in international waters outside Canada’s 200-nautical-mile EEZ. Armed DFO patrol vessels and a Canadian Coast Guard intercepted and pursued Estai, which cut its weighted trawl net and fled after an initial boarding attempt. She was eventually boarded and taken into port. The illegal net (the mesh was too small, allowing immature fish to be caught) was also recovered to be used as evidence.

As a result an EU proposal to impose sanctions on Canada was tabled but the UK vetoed it. Canada said that it would not enter into negotiations as long as illegal fishing continued and demanded the withdrawal of all fishing vessels in the area as a precondition.

OK, we’re getting a little too far away from the subject of the article, but you can see just how desperate Spanish fishermen were getting to find catches after biological moratoriums were imposed on Mediterranean fishing grounds in order for them to recuperate from over fishing.

So, on the insistence of Spain and Portugal, a deal was struck so that Moroccan tomatoes, for example, could be imported into the EU in exchange for Morocco opening its fishing grounds to EU trawlers.

The result is that Moroccan tomatoes (which are much cheaper to produce owing to lower labour costs, etc), flood Spanish markets at prices that Spanish farmers can’t compete against… hence one of the reasons for the strikes and the reason that local farmers were dumping tomatoes at the entrance to Motril Port, in protest, a week or so ago.

I’m sorry if this is a bit convoluted but at least it gives a bit of background to one of the things that farmers are complaining about. The French, by the way, feel the same about cheap Spanish produce flooding their markets…

(News/Noticias: Granada, Andalucia)

  2 comments for “Farmers vs Fishermen

  1. Patrick Barry Storey
    February 27, 2024 at 2:39 pm

    So let me get this right. These poor fisherman, raped the Mediterranean of most fish, did the same to other areas and now will do the same to the Moroccan seas. Morocco caves in, but only if vegetables and other goods can be sent to Spain. Spain then sends its fruits and vegetables to other parts of Europe and the UK. To sell at Spanish business prices. This is a merry-go-round, does it ever stop?

  2. julie
    February 21, 2024 at 8:46 pm

    Police today in Madrid are baton beating the farmers that feed their families
    as protests erupt all over Spain and other countries.

    This is just the beginning – police everywhere will inevitably have to choose
    their side in what’s to come. Good versus evil.

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