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The work on the sea do not enjoy the best of the images, despite the fact that the crisis of the Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of the Agriculture and Fisheries for ensuring the food supply of the Spanish society. As happens in the field, in the fishing fleet there are also a deficit in the crew and it comes resorting to foreign crew members. A phenomenon that, while it is structural, the Covid-19 contributes to aggravate, together with the necessary relief of the crews of the fleets of height and great height (those who fish away from the fishing grounds, national), made it difficult for the sanitary barriers raised by different countries to combat the pandemic.

On the deficit of manpower in the fishing fleet, the deputy managing director of the Cooperative of Shipowners of Vigo (ARVI), Edelmiro Ulloa, recognizes the “little demand” who have the work of the sea among the young and unemployed spaniards and shows its concern “that a large part of the controls current you are going to retire and there is generational change” . In this sense, adds that the foreign crew members are “a measure of support” because, otherwise, the fleet would have to stop.

All this, despite having a school nautical fishing with a significant number of students. Only in Vigo, ensures its director Engracia Trillo, there are 200 students of vocational training between VET and Higher Average and FP Dual . In addition there are students who come to this centre for non-formal education. In a survey conducted last year by the Secretary General of Fisheries to 715 students of the two courses of the training cycles of the eight schools nautical-fishing existing in Spain, found that only 26% of the students expressed their intention of embarking in a fishing boat. That contrasted with those students who preferred to opt for the merchant marine (36.7%) and recreational sailing (30%). Among the reasons given for their preferences for the toxicity, hardness, and the time away from home (to 32.1%) , the lack of interest (19,6%) and compensation (to 19.5%).

View from the pier of Almeria – OPAGAC/CEPESCA

About the latter, Ulloa (ARVI) highlights that “a worker in the sea earns quite a bit more than on earth” and recognizes the “sacrifice” of being away from home , in the case of the Fleet of Gran Sol 15 days or up to four months on a boat freezer. “For example, a mechanic of medium or great height with 5 years of experience can earn 70.000 euros per year ,” says the spokesman of the shipowners vigo. Also remember that to navigate there are a few requirements training and previous medical certification.

In particular, explains Trillo (Escuela Náutico pesquera de Vigo), to be a sailor on a fishing boat it is essential to do a basic training course in safety (70 hours) and other sailor fisherman (25 hours, the only double in Galicia) , “that with 6 months of boarding allows you to carry a small boat. While for the merchant marine , to the foregoing is added a course of sailor on bridge of 120 hours and of machines of the same duration.

Asked about the hardness and the conditions on the ships, sources of the slice tuna -a fleet that has 47 boats distributed by the Ïndico, the Atlantic and the Pacific – highlight that in your case the “tides” are four months aboard ship and four other of paid vacation, and that the lowest wages are in the region of € 1,300 a month. In any case, these sources recognize “the difficulty to recruit officers and sailors who have experience” . The sources added that there are half Spanish half african “, by proximity to the ports in which we work”.

Activity in a vessel of purse seine tuna – OPAGAC/CEPESCA

Asked by the conditions on board, as identified by the pupils of the schools nautical fishing, “admit that they are many months away from home, although there are other fleets nearby that also have good conditions”. For example, say the partners consulted that “the sailors are given a time to connect to wi-fi” and, in this way, to communicate with their families.

Aware of all of the above, from the sector’s employers ‘ organisation Cepesca was reached a year ago with the trade unions UGT and Comisiones Obreras, a Framework Agreement with the principles for develop the Convention 188 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) , as well as to agree on minimum conditions under wage. Both parties have been working on its development.

Also, according to the secretary general of Cepesca, Javier Garat , “with the goal of attracting Spanish talent” apart from campaigns to encourage the consumption of fish has been promoting the FP-Dual. What has been achieved “closer,” the contact with the schools nautical-fishing . For example, in the IES Universidad Laboral de Culleredo (La Coruña) from 2018 qualifications of FP Dual pattern of littoral and mechanical naval with the collaboration of the Organization of Producers 77 of the Port of Celeiro.

Shipowners, as an employer, fishing and Foreign chartered recently a plane with 189 crew members to relieve the crews in the Seychelles – OPAGAC/CEPESCABarreras health for the relay

As reported by the Committee of Crisis in the Fisheries Sector (which are the employer’s association Cepesca, the National Federation of Fishermen’s associations FNCP and the National Federation of Provincial Associations of Entrepreneurs, Retailers of fish and Fish Products Frozen, Fedepesca), is continue these steps “with the collaboration of the General Secretariat of Fishing and the Embassies of Spain in third countries” to speed up changes crews in countries like Senegal, Ivory Coast, Namibia, Mauritania, Peru and Papeete (French Polynesia) .

As an example of the difficulties that are faced for the change in the crews, Garat mentioned the complexity of the operating organized in Mauritania , “in which he participated a boat of the Guardia Civil usually avitualla other two deployed in that country, and that led to the ships multiple crew Spanish to make the relay”.