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Fisheries News.

Wednesday, October 27th 2004 - 21:00 UTC
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Controversy in Spain over trawling; Canada and EU agree on conservation; Chilean mussel producers in conflict; Peruvian fisheries exports reach 1,2 billion US dollars; Galicia patents system to prevent commercial fraud; Galicia patents system to prevent commercial fraud; Pioneer experiment to study hake migration; Pioneer experiment to study hake migration; Australia wants a crackdown on Antarctic fisheries plundering.

Controversy in Spain over trawling

The Vigo Vessel Owners' Cooperative (ARVI) expressed deep concern over the recent public campaign against trawler fishing which has been launched by several NGOs. They argue that the anti-trawling campaign lacks a solid scientific base because there is no scientific data to actually support the allegation that this technique impoverishes sea-beds. On the contrary regional fisheries organizations and international institutes of marine research regulate this type of fishing and agree that there are neither "good" or "bad" fishery gears, but "well regulated" or "badly regulated" use of gear, José Fuentes Gamundi, ARVI executive manager said in a press release. The organizations and institutes ARVI mentions are the well-respected International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Live Resources (CCAMLR), the Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), the Commission of Central-East Atlantic Fisheries (CECAF), the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), and the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Pollock Resources in the Central Bering Sea. According to ARVI's release ship owners' cooperative considers that the opinion of these NGOs is not supported by scientists from the mentioned organizations who have never requested a moratorium for this fishery gear. However, they have requested bottom trawling to be adequately regulated, as in certain coral reef areas where these operations are totally banned. ARVI has also requested that the Spanish General Secretariat of Maritime Fisheries, and the Central Administration, through the Spanish Oceanographic Institute (IEO), adopt adequate measures and advocate the regulation of every type of fishery gear. (FIS/MP).

Canada and EU agree on conservation

Canada and the European Union (EU) announced last week they favoured calling an international conference to draw up rules for protecting endangered fish stocks in the North Atlantic. Canada and the EU -- particularly Spain and Portugal -- have been at loggerheads for years over Canadian allegations those two countries are involved in over-fishing of endangered species off the Grand Banks fishing grounds in the North Atlantic. Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told reporters after meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew that relations had improved. "We are cooperating with the European Union for strong enforcement (of fishing restrictions in the North Atlantic)", said Mr. Pettigrew. Mr. Bot added that Brussels and Ottawa hoped to organise an international conference to determine new rules for North Atlantic fishing and how to enforce those rules. "This is a global matter" insisted Mr. Bot pointing out that there was also a strong presence in the North Atlantic of fishing fleets from Japan, and Taiwan. Both countries plus Russia and Chile would be invited to the international conference, added Mr. Pettigrew who admitted "There may be problems with enforcement". Canada clashed with Spain and Portugal in the late nineties when it arrested trawlers from those two countries for alleged illegal fishing, though outside of Canada's 200-mile exclusive economic zone.(FIS/MP).-

Chilean mussel producers in conflict

Recent inspections carried out by agents from the Chilean National Fisheries Service (SERNAPESCA) in the Calbuco region have caused deep irritation among mussel growers feeling they have come only "with a fiscal purpose". "SERNAPESCA is a monitoring entity, so, when they detect violations of the norm, it is their obligation to issue summons and the sanctions to be imposed are up to the judge," said Verónica Guzmám, regional director of the Chilean institution in reference to the latest controversy. The conflict originated when SERNAPESCA allegedly detected the lack of compliance with the Contingency Plan ?which indicates the procedure to follow in case of production escapes-, or the lack of the corresponding stamp certifying validity in the forty-five mussel production centres in Calbuco. The president of the Mussel Growers' Association of Calbuco, Eugenio Yokota, argues that when Sernapesca appeared, the inspector in charge did not contact the maritime concession holders or report the alleged offences. "Many of the people contacted were not even management or the maritime concession holders, but simply workers that happened to be there at the time. This is a very serious and highly irregular situation, which is not in line with the attitude SERNAPESCA has maintained over time", sair Mr. Yokota to El Llanquihue. Moreover, he stressed that not having the contingency plan in a visible place hardly affects mussel farming, since these mollusks "do not run away." Should it happen, it would entail a "minimum environmental effect" since they are non-nuisance species. Calbuco Region produces 15,000 tonnes of mussel per year with sales reaching 24 million US dollars. According to some mussel producers who were sanctioned, fines range between the equivalent of 50 and 50,000 US dollars. (FIS/MP).-

Peruvian fisheries exports reach 1,2 billion US dollars

Peruvian fisheries exports from January to September 2004 1,2 billion US dollars, a 30% increase over the same period in 2003 reported Roberto Vázquez de Velasco, executive manager for the Commission for the Peruvian Export Promotion (PROMPEX). During "Peru Pesca 2004" fair in Lima to promote fisheries and aquaculture exports Peruvian businessmen from the industry forecasted that fisheries exports this year will exceed 1,3 billion US dollars, if the current trend continues. Mr. Vazquez de Velasco also revealed that non traditional products accounted for 66% of the sector's sales which represents a 59% increase over last year. Main non traditional exports include frozen pota squid, Peruvian scallop, shrimp, canned tuna, and eel fillets. Fish meal continues to rank first in exports with a 161,9% increase, whereas fish oil exports increased by 145%. Peru is the world's main fishmeal producer and exporter with a "1.8 million-ton annual average over the last decade", revealed Foreign Trade and Tourism minister Alfredo Ferrero. However Deputy Minister of Fisheries Alejandro Jiménez, highlighted the importance of diversifying the Peruvian fisheries sector, "we must not have only one star product, but many". He also revealed that although Peru extracts three times more seafood than Chile, it exports only 50%.. "We boast about having more than eighty micro-climates, 12,000 bodies of water, more than 3,000 kilometers of coastline, but we have not consolidated a vital activity such as maritime inland aquaculture" insisted Mr. Jiménez. (FIS/MP).-

Galicia patents system to prevent commercial fraud

The Technological Sea Centre (CETMAR), the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), the Institute of Marine Research (IIM), along with the universities of Vigo and Santiago de Compostela together with the canning company Bernardo Alfageme have patented a set of highly reliable methods to trace the molecular patterns of each fishing species through biochemistry both in the chain of production and outlets to prevent commercial fraud. Galician researchers involved in this scientific breakthrough have designed a series of identification methods analyzing fish DNA in order to ensure the product's authenticity, reports La Voz de Galicia. These new techniques, representing a significant step in cooperation between the Galician fishing industry and micro-biochemistry, prevent food fraud because they are grounded in the unique genetic codes of each marine organism which remain unalterable despite the freezing, mixing, or processing method. The molecular identification analysis will serve as a complement to labeling norms that are in effect in the European Union countries since 2002, which forces producers and traders to provide the geographical origin and registration of the frozen or fresh whole pieces or fillets, among other requirements. The IMM together with the Fundación Azti and two local canning firms have developed a diagnosis kit that takes less than two hours and allows the identification of tuna and cod specimens in fresh and processed fishing products. All research carried out by Galician scientists will be part of an international data base on marine species and products to be open for consultation by other countries. (FIS/MP).-

Pioneer experiment to study hake migration

Biologists form the Spanish Oceanographic Institute (IEO), coordinated by the Vigo Coastal Centre are working on a project of live hake tracking, aimed at knowing their migration movements and growth rate. Scientists, who traveled onboard the research vessel Francisco de Paula Navarro, from 27 September through 4 October, have marked 520 specimens with an easily visible tag. Once the fish were weighed and measured, a tag was placed on their first dorsal fin and they were returned to the sea near La Coruña, but far from the fishery grounds, reported La Voz de Galicia. Carmen Piñeiro, who leads this project of live specimens' traceability, said that "an operation of this nature, which implies a considerable capital investment, can not be successful if there is no information on the tagged specimens and their movements". Therefore, researchers have announced that without the fishermen's cooperation "the possibility of re-catching these specimens is dramatically reduced and the effort made is not profitable." "This is why we will emphasize the need that tagged hake be returned intact (un-gutted) to the IEO" said Ms. Piñeiro who also pointed out that fishermen will receive economic gratification for returning these specimens. The experiment, the first of its kind in Spain was carried out using trawling gear with a device attached to it, designed in France, which allows for live hake catches. (FIS/MP).

Australia wants a crackdown on Antarctic fisheries plundering

Australia will pressure Antarctic Treaty nations to support a crackdown on pirate fishing vessels plundering depleted Southern Ocean fisheries, the government said Sunday. Environment Minister Ian Campbell said Australia, along with New Zealand and the United States, would push other nations to adopt a centralized vessel monitoring system designed to prevent poaching at the Antarctic Treaty annual conference in Australia this week. The meeting began this Monday October 25 in Hobart, capital of the island state of Tasmania. "There is already, in principle, support from many member countries and there will be a concerted effort to convince others that centralized monitoring of vessels is an essential tool in the fight against illegal fishing," Campbell said in a statement. The government would push the 24 member nations of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources to help end illegal and unregulated fishing in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters. "If the commission is to be really effective in its role as protector of Southern Ocean marine life it needs to be pragmatic in adopting solutions that will ensure fish stocks are not wiped out," Campbell said. The government has committed AUD 90 million (USD 66 million) over three years to improve patrolling of the Southern Ocean. The latest push follows a spate of seizures by Australia and other Antarctic nations of fishing vessels hunting the valuable but increasingly rare Patagonian toothfish, found only in the Southern Ocean. "It is highly prized on dinner tables throughout the world but only proper management of the fishery will ensure it survives," Campbell said. "The management measures observed by licensed fishing operators are being undermined by the unconscionable actions of poachers," he declared. Australian patrol boats arrested five boats fishing illegally in the last four years, most recently, the Uruguayan registered Maya V in January. Additionally, in May, the French navy caught and apprehended the Honduras registered Apache in the Southern Ocean close to the Australian fishery zone. Campbell said a centralized system of regulation would allow members to independently verify fishing vessels' positions and movements from information fed to the commission's secretariat in Hobart. (FIS/MP).-

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