Thursday, 4 November 2021

A talent drain puts the future of Spanish fishing at risk.

This is an interesting article recently published in Spanish for a marine site. Why the exodus to Uk or other EU member state flagged vessels? - it would seem that thee are tax advantages for those that crew the offshore fleet that are not available to those that crew Spanish vessels. There is a degree of familiarity to other issues raised in the article also being experienced here in the UK 

UK flagged Spanish trawler.

The Spanish fleet faces a flight of talent among its crew to ships from other countries, especially command posts and machines, which aggravates the problem of generational change in the sector, while on land the Fishmongers also accuse lack of quarry.

The exodus of sailors to ships of other flags adds to the difficulties of the Spanish shipowners to find personnel and even slows the departure of distant-water Spanish ships to sea.

This flight to French-flagged ships is frequent, according to shipowners and trade unions, although the sailors who star in it also enlist in vessels flying the flag of the United Kingdom or Ireland.

Representatives of the Government, employers and unions have reactivated this month a consultative committee for fisheries social dialogue to study solutions to the lack of personnel and generational change.

Among the departures, sources from all over the sector insist, in statements to Efe, on the need to change professional training; They also ask to modify the laws on recognition of titles to attract foreign workers.


The general secretary of the Cepesca shipowners' association, Javier Garat, explains that the flight of talent has been detected for years in fleet segments such as tuna or longliners; but at the moment it is more accused in the fleet of the Gran Sol (Great Sole), that operates around British waters and of Ireland or France.

Fishing associations from Galicia, Cantabria, the Basque Country and Asturias have warned, in a letter sent to the Ministry of Finance, of the difficulties faced by Spanish shipowners who fish in the waters of the northeast Atlantic because their certified sailors prefer to work aboard ships of other EU countries.

They attribute this choice to the fact that within Spanish taxation there are exemptions in personal income tax for working days in a foreign company, with a ceiling of 60,100 euros per year, in countries with which there are agreements, according to the letter, provided to Efe.

The businessmen have requested that the Treasury apply a similar measure for all Spanish sailors who fish in the northeast Atlantic, to equalize the rules of the game, because in the end, whether the boats are French, Spanish or British, they all unload the same fish and compete in the same ports.


Cepesca, the unions and the Fedepesca fish retailer employers agree that it is necessary to reform Vocational Training in Spain and apply a more practical dual system to guarantee the preparation of seafarers.

Labor support measures are foreseen in the program of the new European Maritime Fund for Fisheries and Aquaculture (FEMPA), but until they become reality it will take two years.

The head of CCOO fisheries, Juan Manuel Trujillo, points out that "good skippers" are highly valued and, apart from that, collective bargaining should also be improved and attractive remunerations should be promoted to incorporate women on board.

But in general, Trujillo believes that in fishing a lot is worked "on the side," according to profit from the catches, and that tradition discourages many young people from joining the profession, because they are not willing to be uncertain.

In the advisory committee, the Government and the sector are also debating a revision of the regulations on Spanish qualifications to make it more flexible and facilitate the use of sailors of other nationalities such as Indonesia, with whose administration there are talks.

Another modification under study consists of giving the skippers more skills (expanding their navigation further).


The director of the Fedepesca fishmongers association, María Luisa Álvarez, explains that traditional commerce experienced its particular escape in the past decade, because businessmen over 50 years old left their business to work as an employee in a supermarket and have less sacrificed hours .

Álvarez indicates that at present there is more demand than supply in the fishmongers and that it is difficult to find young people who want to join the counters in these small businesses: "Lack of quarry."

Even in family businesses, the trend is for fishmongers to guide their children to other career opportunities, so the fishmonger will close when they retire.

Álvarez also considers that the solution lies in professional training, because in the food trade "it does not exist", in contrast to the wide range of modules linked to sectors such as the hospitality industry.

Original story in Spanish by Mercedes Salas