Acuinuga. Acuicultura y Nutrición de Galicia


18-08-16 |

A new opportunity for Portuguese aquaculture

The Mar 2020 programme, currently with open calls and co-financed by European Union funds, offers subsidies for productive investments in aquaculture projects throughout continental Portugal, which can reach very generous funding levels. The 27 million euros (M€) budget in the current call, setting up a ceiling of 6.5 M€ per project, make it a powerful tool for the revitalization of this area of the primary sector, particularly suited for the modernization of facilities, innovation, and increasing the efficiency and competitiveness of Portuguese aquaculture companies. Clearly a great opportunity to take advantage of a healthy and growing market at both national and European levels, strongly deficient in local produce, required to meet a growing demand originating from the booming tourism sector -among others.


This initiative should however be carefully contextualized, as it has been preceded by several others similar in nature since the incorporation of Portugal as a full member of the European Union, 30 years ago. From the Minho river delta to the Alvor estuary, from Caminha to Sagres, the Portuguese coast is dotted with aquaculture corpses, with many ruinous farms and abandoned warehouses; rusting equipment and derelict floating devices, failed investments representing a serious splurge for European taxpayers. Portugal is no exception in the management failure of these funds, which wisely administered would have favored a radically different economic situation from the sad realities currently confronted by many European states.


Regardless of the technical uncertainties which may have conditioned some particular cases, in general terms corruption, incompetence, nepotism, cronyism, lack of professionalism and opacity explain the vast majority of these failures, which rarely result in the attribution of specific responsibilities. More specifically, the greatest responsibility lies undoubtedly in the European authorities responsible for the supervision and monitoring of these projects which, shielded on the questionable subsidiarity principle, have been unable to guarantee a satisfactory return on these investment programs so far.


It is important to remember that each and every meticulous provision included in these calls, all those controls and collaboration requirements, the infinity of analyses and reports that the European bureaucracy and the preachers of the state imposed for the control of these initiatives, have proved perfectly incapable of avoiding the spoliation that took place over the years, resulting, among other factors, in one of the worst recessions ever, from which we are still trying to recover. In current political jargon, these calls have ensured the sustainability of a prolonged fiasco.


This is not just another call for the European project. Its survival largely depends on the success of these programmes. The European Union must demonstrate its ability to successfully implement initiatives favouring the generation of wealth, employment, the improvement of the welfare and living conditions of EU citizens. And that, in Portugal as in many other EU member states, remains to be seen.