Spain as “the first fishing power in Europe”


        Rafael Centenera is the actual Deputy Director General of “Agreements and Regional Fisheries Organizations”, belonging to the Spanish “Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment.” His work is based on three international areas: fisheries agreements with the EU / third countries; Regional Fisheries Management Organisations; and Reporting. He has managed important international agreements and relationships reaching his actual position.

Captura de pantalla 2015-11-25 a la(s) 18.52.41   Rafael Centenera at the right, with the interviewer, Alejandro J. Cordeiro.

        Rafael studied Biology at the “Universidad Complutense de Madrid” and specialized in zoology. After that, he took a master on Fishing and Aquiculture that gave him the necessary knowledge in order to do a public examination to become “Optional Superior Technician of Autonomous Bodies” of the Ministry. Meanwhile he has been for two years in the European Parliament at the Department of Studies defending Spanish fishing interests. Throughout his career, Mr Centenera has met many people with power within the EU and international relations.

        About this experience in Brussels, he has the opinion that, as it is a co-decision authority, it must be more informed and must take the scientific studies more into account because there is a lot of political power and influences by different lobbies with particular interests. Besides, the “European Commission has become too technocratic, and sometimes forget their obligation to defend the interests of European industry. It should work more with the sectors that are involved.”

        Mr Centenera is so proud of Spain because is “the first fishing power in Europe and therefore has a lot to say, and the Commission listens with attention when we have any problem”. Even though, there is not any special benefit because the UE has to treat each country in the same manner. Mr Centenera says that Spain have “an outstanding fleet in relation to technology and fishing capacity”, with ships “in every ocean and in the whole world”. Spain is “leader in production and commercialization in Europe”, with a fishing value of “2.500 millions of euros per year” and a commercial value of “4.600 million.”

        In the interview he have explained the way international fishing is regulated. First, scientific researches and studies are carried out in order to have a better knowledge. Later, a certain management is applied and regulated. Each country is in charge of its coast until 200 miles and the part of international waters are “regulated by the regional fisheries organizations; all within the Law of the Sea of 82, and a series of standards that had been created”, about the obligation to cooperate. In the same way, there exist international and national laws that regulate the environmental aspects of the fishing activity, “a social, economical and environmental sustainability is necessary” because “in order to have healthy resources we need healthy habitats and we think that this is very important”. He argues that we have to take care of pollution and global warming because they affect the habitat of the fishing species.

        When asked about the international agreements that Spain have reach and its importance, Mr Centenera said that Spain exploit the European waters within the Act of Accession of Spain at 86, and that Spain has 15 international agreements all around the world and by all the oceans, showing that the Spanish fleet is “one of the most dynamic fleets of the world”. For example, there are very important “the agreements with Morocco or Mauritania, the first because of neighbour-ship, and the second because it is the most important for the Spanish fleet by number of vessels.”

        In order to have gotten such agreements, it was necessary a negotiation. Mr Centenera has been actively involved in achieving many Spaniards agreements. He has told us more in detail how it works: “First, you have to show an interest in access to water within a country; the EC requested a mandate to negotiate the agreement and then the negotiation starts with the 3rd country. Obviously you can only access resources that are surplus. And later you begin to discuss technical issues. Rafael has take part in the negotiations like the Mauritanian one, which “has been closed after two years.”

        Rafael also has explained the problem with Gibraltar. Due to de Utrecht Agreement, Gibraltar has not right over the 12 marine miles, but its fishing ships consider that they do have and they do not let the Spanish fleet exploit that zone. So “a truly artificial conflict has been created” that goes “beyond fishing”. Although Gibraltar hasn´t an authorized catch for blue fin tuna, they have assigned themselves “10 tones of tuna without asking anyone”, something that has been already put under the EU knowledge to be regulated.

         To conclude, Mr Centenera talks about the next general elections of Spain, showing his support to every party that allows “to continue defending a sustainable activity as it is done now”, that protects the interests of the fishing sector. He considers that “Partido Popular” (PP) “has performed nice these four years in relation to fishing issues”; that “Partido Socialista Obrero Español” (PSOE) “also has done good thing at their times” and that “Ciudadanos” “suggest measures that we like.”

Author: Alejandro J. Cordeiro, student of Business Management and International Relations.

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