As a lesser evil, some unions say that the rise in diesel prices that the Government announced yesterday. Although the increase, which ranges between $ 0.10 and $ 0.25 per gallon, will have an effect, the impact will be minimal, compared to the one that had been calculated if the value was taken to international levels.
In the case of artisanal fishing, this will only affect 13% of the sector, since this type of fuel is only consumed by some 200 motherships. “The rest of the boats have not been touched and that is positive,” says Gabriela Cruz, president of the National Federation of Artisanal Fisheries Cooperatives of Ecuador, (Fenacopec), who however is concerned about the opening of a process of reclassification of boats, which seeks to include in the category of artisanal fishing boats under 24 meters in length, even when these, he says, are mechanized and use other types of fishing gear. That would allow them to fish within 8 nautical miles and affect not only the artisanal fisherman, but also the marine resource. “That is why we are calling for dialogue, to sit down and talk with the authorities about this plan they want to do in 30 days,” says Cruz.
More reassuring are the representatives of the tuna fleet and the shrimp sector, who agree that the gallon increase from $ 0.80 to $ 1.05 will not break any business, however small or medium it may be.
José Antonio Camposano, president of the National Chamber of Aquaculture (CNA), said that at the dialogue table they tried not to touch the shrimp farmers that have less than 30 hectares, but that, for terms of control, the government insisted on applying a single rate for the entire sector; however, this will not have a major impact. “I can safely say that 99.9% of the shrimpers will be able to make the corresponding adjustments to assume this new cost” (which is initially estimated at $ 0.01 per pound of shrimp).
After this partial increase, the Government could not eliminate 100% of the subsidy that has been delivered to these sectors for years. Initially, the State anticipated a savings of $ 130 million on this issue, but after the announcement yesterday the General Secretariat of the Presidency has not yet updated its figures.
The shrimp sector maintains that the positive thing about the dialogue reached is that, in this context, the Government has come to understand that the shrimp fisherman still does not have to electrification as an alternative to abandon diesel in the short term. The two years that have been given as a deadline to freeze these prices, says Camposano, could be an opportune time to get this electrification project finished. But for this, he says, together with the State, work must be done to find the resources that are required to make this investment.
Expectation by Secretariat
The fisheries and aquaculture sector approves the Government’s decision to transform the Ministry that represented them into a Technical Secretariat, which will have a multisectoral collegiate body and will be a member of the expanded cabinet.
The expectation is that, under a new structure, this entity will continue to have the same margin of maneuver that the Ministry reached in the last 15 months of existence. There is talk of the need, for example, to maintain the Secretariat of quality and safety, which ensures compliance with the standards required by the countries of destination to which it is exported. A subdivision that is responsible for issuing certificates and executing audits and that, after a long process, was recognized and approved by the partner countries. “Before this was done by the National Fisheries Institute and (when the ministry and the undersecretary was created) for a year we spent explaining to everyone about the new function of the undersecretary who had been created. What we do not want is to repeat this process, “Camposano explained. (I)