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Horta ,  December 12, 2019

Regional Government considers that proposed amendments to Fundopesca would deprive fishers from their income and reduce the number of insured fishers

The Regional Secretary for the Sea, Science and Technology criticised at «the Legislative Assembly in Horta the proposed amendments to the regional legislative decree regulating the Azores Fishers' Salary Compensation Fund, commonly known as Fundopesca.
Gui Menezes stated that the proposed amendment submitted by PSD (Social Democratic Party) "evidences a complete lack of knowledge" on Fundopesca, questioning this party about "how much the proposed changes would cost" and whether there was an estimate of the amounts involved; these questions were left unanswered.
The Regional Secretary spoke during the debate on two proposed amendments, submitted by PSD and BE (Left Block party), which were rejected in plenary vote.
"During the discussion of the 2020 Plan and Budget, PSD proposed an amendment to the Plan with the aim of increasing the financial allocation of Fundopesca by 50 thousand Euros, but this amount is not sufficient to offset the brutal increase in costs," said the government official.
According to the Regional Secretary, fishers "would have to increase their contributions to Fundopesca [from the sale of fish in auction] to offset the brutal increase that the proposed changes entail, which would also represent an increase of social security contributions.
It should be noted that the contribution due by shipowners who adhere to Fundopesca is set at 0.5% of the value of fish traded in auction per each fishing vessel.
For Gui Menezes, the PSD proposal "compares the Fundopesca system to a social security system." However, this system "is voluntary" and "there are many fishers who do not want to contribute to this fund."
In this speech, the Regional Secretary defended that the mandatory presentation of insurance policies for eligibility for this salary compensation "is yielding results."
"It is not true that hundreds of fishers are excluded from Fundopesca for lack of insurance," Gui Menezes said, noting that, among the 974 applications submitted in 017, 151 were rejected, and, among the 821 applications submitted in 2018, only 44 were rejected.
The fact is that the regulation in force determines the presentation of valid insurance policies as a necessary requirement for granting this salary compensation. In this regard, the proposed amendments defend that, in the absence of these documents, fishing professionals, with the exception of shipowners, cannot be penalised.
The Regional Secretary stressed that the lack of insurance is "a very serious infringement by shipowners," considering that there are supervisory bodies, including the Regional Labour Inspection and the Maritime Authority, which must "be attentive" to these situations.
"Removing the insurance obligation is to make shipowners less responsible as far as it opens up the possibility of many fishers to continue working at sea without insurance and we do not want that," said Gui Menezes.
The government official also stated that the Regional Government created in 2011 a work safety support scheme on board regional fishing vessels, whereby shipowners annually receive 200 Euros to insure each crew member, to promote the safety of fishers at sea and encourage shipowners to insure their fishers.”
During this parliamentary debate, Gui Menezes accused the proposing parties of "demagoguery" for questioning the Government on the rate of implementation of this salary compensation fund, adding that "they regard Fundopesca as a fishing port."
According to the Regional Secretary, this system is based on a regional legislative decree that stipulates “activation rules.” Hence, “if the conditions [for activation] are not met, it should not be activated."
"The weather conditions are good; fishers are working and making money. Why should Fundopesca be activated?" asked Gui Menezes.



Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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