The dispute over who should govern the land has divided citizens, media and politicians for the best part of a year. But now the Catalan dispute is testing new waters off the Catalan coast, where the regional government issues fishing licenses for 'inner waters' and the national government is the issuing authority for fishing licenses in 'outer waters' further from the coastline.
The Catalan regional government has begun to apply a ten-year moratorium on the extraction of red coral in 'inland waters' in an effort to preserve reefs in the Costa Brava.
But the Spanish government has angered the local fishing authorities by granting 12 licenses to extract red coral in 'outer waters', where its jurisdiction lies, reports Catalan daily ARA.
"The national government adopts these kinds of measures while boasting about protecting biodiversity," Sergi Tudela, general director for fishing at the regional Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fishing & Food, told the daily, citing Madrid's intervention as "absurd."
Red coral has reopened the ongoing fishy dispute between Catalan and Spanish authorities. Photo: zhudifeng/Deposit photos
Local coral fishermen off the Costa Brava and in the Balearic Islands say the regional government has based its ban on renewing licenses on "a study that is not well done." They therefore appealed to the national government.
According to Guillem Bossacoma, a lawyer for The Association of Spanish Coral Fishermen, squeezing twelve coral operators into a small space will create a worse impact on the environment than if they were allowed to spread out.
Red coral is used in the production of gemstones as well as for medicinal products.