The asian species Rugulopterix okamuraewhich is registered in the Spanish Catalog of invasive alien species of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, is affecting the fishing sector in Marbella, Fuengirola and Estepona, for which reason they request that public administrations authorize its commercialization for other uses such as cosmetics, fertilizers or food for fish farms, as highlighted by the president of the National Federation of Artisanal Fishing (FENAPA), Carmen Díaz.
The representative of the group has indicated that it is in these areas of the Malaga coast where “the presence of the algae has been detected”, although she has specified that “it is occupying almost the entire surface of the Mediterranean”, which affects the fishing sector because “the day they load the nets with seaweed, they do not bring fish”, which are broken and “lost days of work”.
The “trammel fishing grounds” are the most affected, which are those located in “the coastal strip of inland waters less than 12 miles away and are usually the areas where there are rocks”, which is where the algae settle, explained Díaz, who stressed that at the time of fishing “the nets are destroyed and the fishermen do not catch fish”.
In this way, it has highlighted the “property damage” that the alga is generating in the companies, since the boats “consume fuel to navigate”, in addition to “the days that contribute to Social Security for the workers who go on board, or the networks that have had to be discarded” or damaged gear, along with catch losses.
On the other hand, he has alluded to the damage that Rugulopterix okamurae causes in the ecosystemhighlighting that both the fauna and flora of the rocky seabed “are disappearing”, being colonized by the algae and not having “natural predators”, for which reason “it displaces the native species” and the different fish “displace because they have no food or because they are being depredated” by others.
As solutions, the president of FENAPA has opted for “public administrations to value the seaweed economically so that the fisherman who brings it back alive is paid” and “give free way to market”, as there are companies that “are making certain products such as food for fish farms, fertilizer for agriculture or experimenting with cosmetics or medication”.
The 40 small gear vessels in Marbella stop fishing
For his part, the president of the Fishermen’s Association of Marbella, Manuel Haro, has highlighted that after the “biological stoppage” of the octopus for 3 months, which began in July, “the 40 small gear boats” have tried to capture trammel net species such as mullet, sole, sea bream, breas, snapper or monkfish, but “they have handed over the documentation to the captaincy, they have had to stop and take advantage of the help” due to the presence of the algae.
In terms of employment, he has assessed that there is affected “more than 100 people, at 3 per boat”, which will not be able to fish until the octopus capture resumes. “Since the algae has increased, it is impossible to cast the net, because it fills up in a couple of hours and you cannot climb it”, he explained.
Haro has detailed the problems generated by the presence of the vegetable, since “the alga loosens from the stone and sticks to the net”so that “the fish does not get hooked and the net goes to the bottom with the weight and bursts.”
Regarding economic losses, he has indicated that a boat a week “can sell 2,500 or 3,000 euros gross” in the auction, for which he has estimated that monthly losses of 10,000 euros.