Canada seizes Portuguese trawler; Australia denies granting fishing license to Japanese company; Spain praises EU fisheries commissioner receptivity; Sharks appeal reaches Chilean Congress.
Canada seizes Portuguese trawler
Canadian fishing officials have seized a Portuguese trawler in the Atlantic Ocean and arrested the captain who has been charged with over-fishing in Canadian waters. The Santa Mafalda and its 30-member crew was escorted into the port of St John's, Newfoundland, by the Canadian coastguard. In 2003, officials say, the ship was seen illegally fishing within Canadian waters but the vessel escaped, and the charges stem from that incident. Canadian fishing officials admitted to have been monitoring the activities of the Santa Mafalda for a long time. They say the captain has received 14 citations for nine different incidents, but those were all in international waters outside Canada's 200-mile (320km) limit. It is the first time Canada has seized a foreign vessel off its east coast since the so-called Turbot War10 years ago, when the seizure of the Spanish vessel, the Estai, led to a huge diplomatic row between Canada and the European Union. But Canada's Fisheries Minister, Geoff Regan, is quick to point out that there was more controversy then because the Estai was boarded in international waters. He says he does not expect any protest from the Portuguese government. Opinions have also changed over the past decade. Just last month European Union officials were in the same port city of St John's for an international conference on over-fishing. They pledged to do more to address the problem in the North Atlantic - a problem that many experts say is completely out of control. (BBC).-
Australia denies granting fishing license to Japanese company Mackerel, icefish and Patagonian toothfish licenses have not been granted to a Japanese company, said the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) in response to allegations made by environmentalists. The environmentalist claim came in regard to the Australian Antarctic Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) Fishery, which is managed under an individual transferable quota (ITQ) system. Under the ITQ system, quotas can be traded, the AFMA said, and Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd owns a portion of quota. In turn, the Japanese company has leased its portion of quota to Petuna Sealord Pty Ltd, a large national company fishing the Japanese rights to the fishery with a longliner, the Avro Chieftain, registered and flagged in Australia. Australian vessels are the only ones allowed to operate in the HIMI fishery, as stipulated by draconian AFMA management arrangements. Moreover, the number of boats authorised to target the fishery's resource is restricted to three. Japanese boats are not allowed to fish this or any other Australian fishery, said AFMA managing director Richard McLoughlin, adding that the fishery was regulated by the HIMI Fishery Management Plan, Regulations and conditions on Statutory Fishing Rights. "In this case, it is an Australian boat fishing against Australian fishing rights (owned by a Japanese company), to advantage an Australian business," said McLoughlin. (FIS/MP).-
Spain praises EU fisheries commissioner receptivity Two Spanish fishing federations representing most of the country's fleet operating in international waters and under agreements between the European Union (EU) and African and Pacific countries, expressed satisfaction EU Fisheries Commissioner, Joe Borg receptivity, to the sector's demands on the EU foreign fisheries policy. Delegates from the Spanish Federation of Fisheries Organisations (FEOPE) and from the National Organisation of Fisheries Associations (ONAPE) informed Mr. Borg of their concern with the course of EU foreign fisheries policy, fisheries agreements with third countries, and the situation in waters regulated by Regional Fisheries Organisations (ORP). Activities of illegal fleets and the offensive by countries such as Canada and Chile, which intend to extend the fishing area beyond the 200 miles and take over the resources that are currently in international waters was also on the agenda. Representatives from both organisations submitted to Mr. Borg a detailed report on this threatening situation. Regarding fisheries agreements with third countries, Spanish federations pointed out the importance of the current network of agreements for the Spanish fleet and the need to continue to renew them and explore new ventures. As to ORP Mr. Borg was asked that the European Commission's (EC) role be reinforced in each of them by leading their meetings, as the only way to offset the disadvantage of having only one vote, instead of the 25 votes of all the Member States. Finally it was agreed to hold a new meeting to address another pressing issue, the consequences of the constant rise in diesel prices "which have reached all-time-highs again in 2005". Representatives from FEOPE and other European organisations have requested that the EC and the Council of Fisheries Ministers approve compensatory measures for all EU countries. (FIS/MP).-
Sharks appeal reaches Chilean Congress The South American chapter of the biodiversity protection organization Oceana has requested the Chilean Congress to ban the catching of sharks following claims that 110,000 of them are fished for their fins and thrown back to the sea. "We want the shark to be considered an endangered species", said Marcel Claude, Director of Oceana, adding that the way "they are caught and killed for their fins is bestial, brutal". "We're talking of a predator, forager in the highest rank, which means there are no predators above it; sharks play a vital role in maritime balance since they clear oceans of organic matter and allows a permanent oxygenizing of the ecosystem". Mr. Claude said that sharks are especially vulnerable to habitat destruction and fishing pressure because they have slow rates of maturation and reproductive turnover. Sharks are unusually long lived and give birth to relatively minuscule numbers of young when compared to other types of fish. Many species breed only every other year and have 13 month gestation periods. "Because sharks have been so efficient as predators and foragers they are a phenomenally successful group of animals that have gotten away with such low reproductive rates", said Mr. Claude, however, the introduction of modern fishing methods and industrial fallout have been devastating to shark populations world-wide. "This is a vital specimen for the productivity of marine ecosystems, which make up two thirds of the globe with 90% of the world biodiversity".