The archipelago of the Azores presents the greatest subarea of the Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) of Portugal, with a dimension of 953,633 Km2.
The quality and security of the fisheries of the Azores has been meeting the needs of consumers, as well as the current concerns in the health domain. The region has also been recognised for its contribution to the supply of fishing products of excellent quality in the EU market, one of the most important in the world.
The fishing production of the region has exceeded the dietary needs of the population. This factor is very beneficial for the Azorean economy, in terms of self-sustainability and the balance of commercial transactions of fisheries products.
Fisheries are the main source of sea exploration in the Region, since they correspond to an important part of the source of income of the population, with a significant social and economic impact.
Fishing activity reached in 2010 annual values in the order of 19 thousand tonnes, to which correspond gross values of production in the order of 40 million Euros.
In the Region, the fishing component that represents greater sensitivity to production conditions is tuna fish.
The number of fishermen registered in the Azores is about 4 thousand, which includes fish pickers and workers on land that provide support to the activity at sea.
The transformation industry, more specifically the canning industry, generates about another one thousand jobs. Other positions are created in the naval construction and reparation shipyards, in the companies that supply and offer maintenance of conservation equipment, in the commercialisation of fishing arts and marine equipment, in insurance companies and companies of naval certification and in supplying and maintenance companies.
Taking into account the current trend of the sector, the average dimension measured by average tonnes by vessel and fisherman registered is expected to increase.
Within the scope of aquaculture, the following were identified as species considered for support, according to Order no. 97/2009 of 27 November 2009: Barnacle, Abalone, Limpet, Urchin, Tuna, Stone Bass, White Trevally, Cutlassfish, Bass, Angular Rough Shark and Mediterranean Parrotfish.
The strategic measures for the Sea sector include:
-Requalification and construction of fishing ports;
-The sharing of management tasks and responsibilities between the regional administration and the representative associations of the sector, generating a more effective management of the fisheries sector;
-Search for scientific information on the status of the fishing resources so that sustainable management measures may be implemented in due course and which are adequate for the management of said resources;
-Renovation and modernisation of the regional fishing fleet;
-Commitment towards the training of the fishing professionals, in the areas of seamanship and ship building, engine driving, maritime safety and in the improvement of the quality of fisheries.