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MALTATODAY 21 March 2021

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8 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 21 MARCH 2021 NEWS Jesus - the Living bread which has come down from Heaven - compare John 6:51 with John 6:27-58 Mary - the Ark of the Lord God of the New Testament - compare 2Samuel 6:9-16 with Luke 1:39-56 for Bible Catholic Teaching Verses – ~ to receive a soft copy by email ~ ~ to receive a hard copy by address post ~ sms 79280325 KARL AZZOPARDI THE secretary of fishing coop- erative Koperattiva Tas-Sajd Malta (KSM) has called out the fisheries ministry for what he said was its lack of understand- ing on the industry. Jason Grixti said his cooper- ative, which he insists repre- sents the majority of small-scale fishers, is being "constantly ig- nored" and that Anton Refalo's ministry reacts to problems in this complex industry only at the last minute. The coop maintains that the fisheries ministry is inclined to give credence to a rival cooper- ative, the Għaqda Koperattiva Tas-Sajd (GħKS), which is run by Paul Piscopo. Both are dis- puting each other's member- ship numbers. The two coops are at logger- heads over tuna quotas first handed out in 2019, and up for renewal in 2021. Small-scale fishers who obtained their first ever tuna quota are balking at the prospect of having to re-ap- ply for the licence, which was granted to 52 fishers with ves- sels smaller than 12m. The KSM cooperative insists these special licence holders were never told their licences were valid for just two years. "Some of us have invested in our vessels and fishing equip- ment. With no guarantee of keeping this licence, we cannot risk ending up empty-handed." "You cannot start discussing tuna quotas two months before the season opens. Fishers start preparations almost a year be- fore it opens, you cannot expect them to put everything on hold until they get the go-ahead from government," Jason Grixti said. Grixti said the sluggish pace of the ministry was felt even in addressing the problems faced by lampuki fishers harassed inside their traditional fishing grounds by Tunisian poachers when out at sea. "This has been going on for decades, with the problem slowly continuing to grow. But when the newspapers started reporting on the issue, that's when we started seeing some action," he said. Grixti insists the KSM repre- sents over 90% of fishers in the industry and that the govern- ment cannot keep ignoring his co-op. But GħKS's Paul Piscopo disputes this claim, saying his co-op has around 200 members, compared to the KSM's 400. "GħKS had been always attacked because we seek the well-being of the sector as a whole, not a section of it," he said. The recent tuna quota debacle recently forced the resignation of the KSM president Mario Carabott, after accusing fish- eries minister Anton Refalo of showing a lack of concern in the industry. "In five meetings with the minister, he only spoke once to accuse us of illegalities which were in fact not true," he said. "We had been told the tuna licences would not be touched, and they went against their word. That's unacceptable. There is no energy or sense of interest, and it all stems from bad advice," Carabott said. "We have been requesting a meeting to discuss Lampuki for three months, we are yet to re- ceive a reply." Jason Grixti said the fisheries sector was complex to man- age and that it can suffer from over-regulation. "We agree that there must be regulation, but we cannot get the short end of the stick every time," he said. KSM still wants to continue discussions with the ministry. "Common sense must prevail, but we cannot discuss issues this late. January, February and March are the only months fishers have some time on their hands to go into talks; during the rest of the year they are too busy. Missing even one day at sea could be detrimental." Fishers says minister 'disinterested' and getting bad advice on policy Former president of fishing cooperative says Anton Refalo is not interested in the industry, and that he is getting bad advice when implementing policy "There is no energ y or sense of interest, and it all stems from bad advice" Fisheries minister Anton Refalo in Marsaxlokk

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