Headlines: Sticky situation for seabirds after reefer's grounding; Legal submissions delay fishing verdict; Argentine protest; Roof cost: £Ãâ€šÃ‚Â½ million.
Sticky situation for seabirds after reefer's grounding
A NUMBER of oiled seabirds have been found, dead and alive, near Kidney Cove after fuel was leaked following the grounding of the reefer Nova Scotialast week. This Rockhopper penguin (pictured right shortly after his discovery) was cleaned by staff from Falklands Conservation and the Veterinary Department (far right) before being released yesterday morning. More than twenty dead sooty shearwaters were found near the landing beach at Kidney Cove that showed obvious signs of oiling and smelled of diesel oil. More on page 5
Legal submissions delay fishing verdict DESCRIBED as a "case of great importance" the Senior Magistrate has adjourned the trial of Falklands company Quark Fishing Ltd and its Spanish partners Freiremar AS. At the end of three days of witness testimonies, Mrs. Clare Faulds said that, "in the greater interests of justice" she would require further legal submissions from counsel and adjourned the case. Prosecutor Peter Cooke and defence counsel Fergus Randolph, both from the UK, departed the Islands yesterday and are to email their submissions to Mrs. Faulds by the end of next week. The case against Quark Fishing, of which Falklands councillor Mike Summers is Managing Director, and Freiremar AS centres around the activities of two longline fishing vessels, Jacqueline and Ibsa Quinto.Quark is 25.1% owned by Falklands residents and 74.9% owned by Freiremar. Quark owns and operates the Falklands-flagged Jacqueline. Freiremar owns the Spanish-flagged Ibsa Quinto,chartered in the 2004 South Georgia toothfish season by Quark. In court this week, the Ibsa Quintowas alleged to have overfished during South Georgia's 2004 season, exceeding her 300 tonne quota for Patagonian toothfish by approximately 10%. In 2004 the Government of South Georgia introduced a new licence condition which meant the quantities of toothfish catch would be inspected, either in Stanley or at King Edward Point (in the harbour of Cumberland Bay), South Georgia. The prosecution told the court that on July 6 Ibsa Quintobecame the first vessel to have her catch monitored at FIPASS in Stanley. Only ?product,' that is the processed torso of the fish, was to be weighed. ?Sub-product', such as fish collars, was not to be weighed. The weighing procedure was carried out, taking around two and a half days to complete. Later on the third day, after the figures had been calculated, the level of product was found to be almost 19 tonnes over quota, equating to 33 tonnes of live-weight fish. By the time the excess had been realised, Ibsa Quinto had left Stanley and the South Georgia Government recalled the vessel. The excess product was unloaded and charges Ibsa Quintomoved to Montevideo later in July where her catch was offloaded, weighed and sold. Giving evidence under oath, the Director of Fisheries, Miss Harriet Hall explained that a conversion factor of 1.75 was used in equating live weight from processed weight. For example, 10kgs of processed fishing, applying the conversion rate of 1.75 would equate to 17.5kgs of fish hauled from the sea. In cross examination, Mr Randolph brought to Miss Hall's attention a report from an observer aboard Ibsa Quintowhich suggested a conversion rate of 1.71, based on the way the fish was being cut, would be appropriate. Miss Hall responded that vessels were expected to process their fish based on the rate agreed as part of a licence. Miss Hall also spoke of a form of tolerance exercised by the Government of South Georgia for exceeding quotas. She said this level was, "...for our own internal working purposes; we would allow 5% either way," and commented that vessel owners were not informed of this as, "...we thought they would go for 4.999%..." Defence counsel, Mr Fergus Randolph, alleged that the Ibsa Quinto, being the first vessel to have its total catch weighed, had the "misfortune" of being "a guinea pig." He said the fact that two different monitoring regimes were in place (sampling in Cumberland Bay and actual weighing in Stanley) was "very surprising" and the Cumberland Bay sampling would be "less accurate by definition." Mr Randolph said the tolerance factor being used to determine whether vessels had caught over their allocated quota was an "extremely important" issue, particularly when weights were more closely examined. He argued that, bearing in mind ice could amount to 1-3% of the product weight and that, based on the weights calculated in Montevideo and using the 1.71 conversion figure suggested by Ibsa Quinto'sobserver, the final figure would come to only 6% over quota - "just 1% over the previously secret (tolerance of) 5%." Mr Randolph reminded the court that witnesses had testified to a number of possible flaws in the weighing procedure carried out at FIPASS, including the fact boxes were not individually checked and weighed, some sub-product had been mixed in with product during weighing, and the scales used were not zeroed every time a pallet of product was weighed. Continued on page 5
ARGENTINA has protested against the inclusion of the Falklands Islands in the in EU constitution. On Wednesday, Argentina officially rejected the inclusion of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands as "British Antarctic Territory" in the European Union Constitutional Treaty and has informed European institutions of its "reservations" about the case. "Malvinas (sic) are not a territory where the new European Constitution is applicable," said the Argentine Foreign Affairs Ministry in a release. Annex II of Title IV, Part III of the EU Constitutional Treaty signed last October 29 includes the Falklands, South Georgia and South Sandwich as "British Antarctic Territory". Through its embassy in Brussels, the Argentine Foreign Affairs Ministry has filed the "corresponding reservations" before European institutions. Councillor Norma Edwards said Legislative Council has spoken about the protest and, "...refutes absolutely what Argentina is saying." She said, "...we are clear on where we stand and the British government is clear on our status and I'm sure that the British Government will reply to this in that vein." Acting Governor Hall yesterday confirmed the Foreign Office will respond in some way to the protest: "The UK's views are well known and the Foreign Office will ensure that these are registered appropriately."
Roof cost: £Ãâ€šÃ‚Â½ million THE new roof on Stanley's Town Hall has cost £536,000. Councillor Roger Edwards told a public meeting on Tuesday that he believed the cost had been in the region of £300,000 however he corrected this yesterday. He described the revised sum as "ridiculously high" but added, "that's the market forces of today." He said the fact the roof has been built on to an old building has added to the overall cost. More news from the public meeting is on page 2.
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