Alexis melenara

Alexis. Secretary at the Fishermen Cooperative

 

  • A seaman’s joy are his catch and the Virgin of El Carmen festivity.
  • Melenara fishermen always would get their vessels stranded, download their catch, and set the formerly allowed fishing seine known as chinchorro in the beach waters. Any fishing activity used to be carried out on the beach or its surroundings until, in the late 80s, the Telde Town Hall stated that the fishermen had to leave the beach, providing no alternatives. The Melenara fishermen were left without a way to make a living and their families with no income whatsoever.
  • I, being young, wanted to do something out of myself, help those older than me to stop this wrongdoing from the local government, bearing in mind they did not know how to interact with governmental offices. The first idea was fighting back by means of social pressure, if no other way was left open, so the fishermen, their families, kids and elder, would demonstrate and interrupt the traffic in the Las Palmas-South motorway. But then, Mr. Alejandro Castro, Lorenzo Olarte, Jose Macias and the Harbour Master of the Port Authority helped a lot and together we achieved the setting up of the existing Cooperative besides access to the Taliarte harbour facilities for the fishermen, as such harbour is a property of the Cabildo of Gran Canaria, the island government.
  • They had to set up a Cooperative rather than a Guild because of a jurisdictional matter, as the Puerto de La Luz and the Castillo de Romeral Guilds had already been created, so there was not enough coastal territory to set up a third Guild between these two ones.
  • Not long ago I still was the shipowner of the Irimar del Carmen but I sold it because nowadays it is very hard to remain working in the sector. The existing fishing regulations don’t benefit the Canaries seamen: the fishing areas are severely limited; formerly, a coastal fishing licence granted you freedom to work, but now you can only use a specific gear at a time and if you are hoisting pots and two fishing rods are on the boat, you get fined.
  • A seaman in the mainland Spain can move from one province to another sailing off and still would be considered to be in inner coastal waters, where artisanal fishing is allowed. We, if we wish to fish in Fuerteventura, while making our way there we are considered to be crossing external waters, so you are forced to obtain a licence for external coastal waters fishing (non-artisanal), and this is not at all profitable because of the technical requirements to be met by law. For example, the seven Canary Islands are communicated by satellite on a A1 reception coverage, so, why is a long wave radio transmitter required?
  • We bear governmental requirements as though we were any other ordinary company, but this is not the way things work, as we depend on the catch, the weather… Future is uncertain, and it is not possible to keep a family afloat.
  • There must be law and order, but not to an extent where we cannot work.
  • It is sad, because this could be solved if we sat down and discussed, either professional fishermen or the Government.