Observers and scientists from the Uruguayan Fisheries Department, (DINARA), claim that most of the problems encountered by Uruguayan flagged vessels allegedly caught illegally fishing can be tracked to recent resolutions degrading technical conditions for the naming and selection of observers.
A declaration drafted following a joint unions meeting of fishermen, DINARA scientists and observers plus relatives of crewmembers currently awaiting trial in Australia for allegedly illegal fishing, reveals that DINARA Director Captain Yamandú Flangini sponsored decree 391/2003 that "unilaterally and compulsively cuts entry to the Scientific Observers category". Apparently decree 391/2003 was the result of strong lobbying from vessel owners.
The release also indicates that given the protest of scientific observers who refused to embark until the decree was redrafted Captain Flangini began naming people without the necessary knowledge or technical background for the job.
Such is the case of the controversial observer of the Uruguayan flagged longliner "Maya V" that was apprehended in Australian waters for illegal fishing, Mario Andrés Morales who has yet to present in DINARA the scientific report of his tour with "Maya V", --but who has collected his travelling expenses--, and "was involved in actions that do not correspond to responsible scientific observers".
According to statements from "Maya V" crewmembers published in the Montevideo press, Mr. Morales spent much of his time drinking and shooting from the bridge at sea birds and sea mammals and was well aware of the fact that the Uruguayan flagged vessel was operating in non authorized waters.
The recent revelations to the Montevideo press by Uruguayan "Maya V" crewmembers currently awaiting trial in Australia of further illegalities by officers and DINARA personnel has forced a new Congressional Committee summons of the Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Minister for next March 16.
Mr. Mario Andrés Morales, according to the Montevideo press, is a well known political militant who spent time working in the Parliament office of Deputy Daniel García Pintos, a strong nationalist politician closely linked to the Uruguayan Armed Forces, particularly the Navy.
Under the Uruguayan electoral system, in the absence of Mr. García Pintos he is replaced by Captain Yamandú Flangini who obviously belongs to his same political faction and is Director of DINARA.