Thursday, June 27th 2002 - 21:00 UTC

Fisheries News

Brazil: Overfishing threatens industry

Argentina: Regulation set for jiggers

Uruguay:International anchovy bids widely rejected

Overfishing threatens industry

Unregulated fishing activities could have a devastating effect on the country, leading to the extinction of species like sardine, pink shrimp, wreckfish and goosefish, and the loss of jobs for many involved in the industry, writes Jornal do Brasil. According to a report in the newspaper, fishermen are concerned that their catches are dwindling and are worried about their futures. Celso de Olivera, captain of the tuna fishing vessel Akira, from Santa Catarina port, said: "If this situation continues it will only be a year or two before the fish are extinct. We won't have any more hake or cod, the most popular fish." "A few years ago our boats used to come in with 15 tonnes of wreckfish. Today it's not even three tonnes," added the president of the Itajaí Fishing Industries Union, Antonio Momm. Olivera, Momm, businessmen and fishermen blame this situation on foreign vessels with licences to fish in Brazilian waters. According to fishermen, the foreign vessels use nets of up to 60 km long and cover large areas, making it difficult for national vessels to operate. Foreign vessels also bring in tonnes of bycatch species, which can't be sold and are therefore discarded, they say. These vessels are regarded as "mobile industries" which process, freeze and pack the fish and transfer it to other freighters at sea. Momm warned against the socio-economic impact the reduction in stocks would have: "We handle the product on land, but no raw material equals no jobs." He also said that the situation was threatening other industry-related activity such as fishmeal production, net manufacturers and fuel suppliers. At the moment there are 12 foreign vessels targeting goosefish in Brazilian waters. This species was identified recently as being highly valuable. Research by the Vale do Itajaí University, carried out under an agreement with the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, shows that 8,649 tonnes of goosefish have been landed worth USD 20.8 million. According to oceanographer and programme coordinator Angel Perez, goosefish stocks are 60 per cent lower than last year, mostly as a result of overfishing by domestic boats. " If this continues, the species would be at serious risk in the short-term," he said, adding that a total allowable catch of 2,500 tonnes - 29 per cent of the total caught in 2001 - should be implemented this year.

Argentina: Regulation set for jiggers

The Federal Fisheries Council (CFP) has established rules for the admittance of jiggers to the national register and/or ?bare boat charters' and the duration of fishing licences. The regulations form part of the policy established for the squid fishery (Illex argentinus). The jiggers have to comply with an extensive list of criteria covering the age of the vessel, the percentage of Argentine crew aboard, the percentage of catches for reprocessing on land and whether the vessel was built in Argentina or not. The duration of the fishing licences will be set according to the Federal Fisheries Law. For vessels included in the national register, the licences will not exceed 30 years, and for 'bare boat charter' vessels, the maximum will be three years. The Council has established a new regulation whereby vessel owners must "present a sworn declaration every year, guaranteeing their compliance with the approved project in terms of the criteria specifying the duration of the fishing licence, within 60 days after each season ends." Failure to comply with regulations set for the project's duration of two years, either alternate or consecutive, will lead the Application Authority to either amend the licence or declare it null and void

International anchovy bids widely rejected

The Uruguay government's intention to bid for anchovy (Engraulis anchoita) fishing licences to extract 200,000 tonnes in waters shared with Argentina is causing great concern and unease in the Argentine fishing sector. As a result of letters received from fishing business chambers in Mar de Plata, the Federal Fisheries Council (CFP) has expressed its total opposition to Uruguay's decision. At the latest CFP plenary meeting a motion was unanimously approved, which authorises a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food protesting against the Eastern Republic of Uruguay's bid to catch anchovy in the Common Fishing Area of the Treaty of Río de la Plata and its Maritime Front. The Council justified its decision saying it was necessary to emphasise the "high variability and the migratory characteristics of the species in question" and "the interdependence in the food chain that make it a key species within the Argentine fishery ecosystem, as the chief food source for important species of fish, birds and sea mammals." The Council also said that research carried out by Argentina's science and technology institutes advises against using this species in the reduction industry, given that the fish meat is of a quality which could be used to obtain products with higher added-value and with less effect on the biomass. "This resource should be assessed annually and initial estimates of abundance should only be used as a guide, as any project which leads to a substantial increase in fishing effort on this species should be preceded by research on the biomass and the composition of the population structure." The CFP also thought it necessary to show the negative impact which exploitation such as that proposed by the Uruguayan government would cause on the artisanal and coastal fishermen in Buenos Aires province. The Common Fishing Area of the Treaty of Río de la Plata and its Maritime Front covers a large area at the Río de Plata river-mouth, which is shared between Uruguay and Argentina. It is managed by the Mixed Technical Commission of the Maritime Front, which is made up of representatives from both chancelleries, technicians and fishing businessmen. The Council, at the request of the Argentine chancellery, also approved the "express acknowledgment" of the efforts carried out so far by Argentine representatives in the Mixed Technical Commission "to prevent the bidding, thanks to which it hasn't been allowed to go ahead yet."

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