A cry of alarm and a request for help. To stop what appears on the horizon as the inexorable decline of the so-called fishing district of Mazara del Vallo in the province of Trapani. In the space of 15 years the fleet has grown from 400 boats to 80 with the sector which today is worth, according to estimates, 200 million. In the same period the employees have gone from almost four thousand to one thousand today. By continuing like this, says the mayor of the town Salvatore Quinci, “we will only become a city of merchants”. It is the synthesis of the confrontation in a heated, not only metaphorically, “two days” dedicated to confrontation with a delegation from the European Parliament brought up to this point by the European MEP, the Sicilian Pietro Bartolo of the S&D group. A delegation of MEPs made up of the president and first vice-president of the Fisheries Commission, the French Pierre Karleskind and the Dutch Peter Van Dalen, Rosa D’Amato of the Greens group, Rosanna Conte of the Id group. “For 20 years in this part a constant decline that puts its survival at risk – says Pietro Bartolo -. Mazara is the litmus test of the Italian fleet as a whole. Problems that must be perceived by Europe which, however, is experienced as distant “.
Distrust of Europe
The high temperature, this time metaphorical, derives from the conflictual relationship that has now been created between Sicilian fishing and the European Union. A point on which there is the awareness of MEPs: «Here, as in Brittany, it is sometimes said that Europe is far from fishermen – said Pierre Karleskind -. We came to Sicily precisely to confront those who live from the sea and shorten the distance that is felt by the citizens. We have come from difficult years both for Covid and now for the war in Ukraine and the increase in the cost of fuel. We want to listen to improve the effectiveness of the European tools in favor of fisheries ». But the pandemic in these parts has only accelerated an ongoing dynamic and if anything aggravated the problems: expensive fuel, management plans, fisheries control, relations with North Africa and more structural issues such as generational change, conditions on boats and the state of the navy.
The commissioner: “We don’t have the attention we deserve”
All issues addressed during the meetings: «Fishing has not often received the attention it deserves – said the regional councilor for fishing Toni Scilla -. There is no Italian fishing without Sicilian fishing. We have deep sea fishing, artisanal fishing and longline fishing. You cannot compare the fishing boat to a ship. Neither does Atlantic fishing with that of the Mediterranean because they are different fish species. We need regulations that safeguard the specificity of fishing in the Strait of Sicily. There are dossiers open with Undersecretary Battistoni and this dialogue also with the European Parliament must continue to lead to concrete responses. Environmental sustainability must be accompanied by economic sustainability “.
The dilemma of sustainability in the Mediterranean
Economic sustainability, which in some cases even means the survival of historic companies. And then it is the theme that the mayor of Mazara addresses with an articulate and pressing speech: «The inertia of things leads us to imagine a future in which we will stop being a fishing town to become a city of merchants. The red shrimp brand is now well established but trawling is really at risk of extinction and with it our identity is extinguished. The prospect with the increase in costs, the reduction of fishing days is rising and with the scrapping policy it would be the end “. And then Quinci announces: «We want to experiment in our fleet with the aim of a management that ensures the protection of the shrimp and its habitat to balance fishing effort with the marginality of the fishermen. Reductions in fishing lead to economic and social recession – he says -. Today the Mediterranean is a brawling condominium. Hundreds of boats have suffered seizures, attacks. The two recent episodes in 2020 and 2021 are still here to testify. A new governance is needed to put an end to these acts of violence. It cannot be imagined that our workers have to risk their lives to support the family. We are not prepared for this fate. The fishing sector needs EU support more than ever ».