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Not business as usual in Europe`s largest fishing port
Monday, 2020/04/06 | 07:28:49

Vigo, Spain works to keep its fisheries value chain going in the time of COVID-19

FAO 03/04/2020


On almost any given day, at four-thirty in the morning, while most people are still sleeping, Europe’s biggest fishing port in Vigo, Spain is in full swing.


In normal times of operation, shouts ring out from the multitude of workers offloading containers of fish from ships docked at the landing site. They cart the broad variety of fish to a series of on-site processing rooms, where containers are stacked high. Skilled workers wield sharp knives at their workstations, where they expertly cut and prepare fish filets at record speed.


In the port halls, traceability labels with bar codes are added to each carton, clearly indicating the fish species, method of catch, and the FAO fishing zone from which it was harvested.


And, despite the darkness of night that casts its silence on this Galician coastal city, the grand halls of the port are filled to the brim and transformed into raucous spaces as competing auctioneers shout into their megaphones. They sing out prices in Spanish and Galician, attempting to entice customers into purchasing the fish stacked high in cartons around them. Their words are lost in the cacophony of bids that echo throughout the halls as crowds weave their way around the containers loaded with the bounties of the sea.


“The city of Vigo lives for its port,” according to Corina Porro, Vigo Delegate, Regional Government of Galicia, Spain. “Nighttime in Vigo includes working in the fish markets... This is the life of Vigo, our city.”


But these are not normal times.


In this new era of COVID-19 and the need for physical distancing, what happens to this hive of daily activity - the sights, smells, sounds and relentless movement - that is Europe’s largest fishing port?


Spain is one of the countries that has been most affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. It is also the country that consumes the largest amounts of fish and seafood in Europe, at around 42.8 kilograms per capita annually.  


See http://www.fao.org/fao-stories/article/en/c/1269462/

Figure: Spain consumes the largest amounts of fish and seafood of all European countries. However, in times of crises, consumer behaviour changes and value chains are affected. The fresh fish market has been heavily impacted. ©FAO/Miguel Riopa

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