Clearly when any large country tries to bully and subjugate a smaller country it should be a matter of concern for everybody. It's a matter of practical concern for us that the Argentines would try to destroy the Falklands' economy.
"They've said many times in the past that that's not their intention, yet it is clear from this sort of proposal that is exactly their intention."
The speaker, above, was Falkland Islands Government spokesman, Councillor Mike Summers, on being asked by Falklands Radio for his reaction to recent statements reportedly made by Gerardo Nieto, Argentina's Fisheries and Aquaculture Under Secretary (Mercopress, 15th May). Councillor Summers went on to describe the current Argentinean government's behaviour towards the Falklands fishery as "nasty, unpleasant and irresponsible".
Nieto's proposals appear to suggest that fishing companies operating, under licence, within Falkland Islands waters should be subject to sanctions, if they did not also have licences issued by Argentina. He is quoted as saying in an interview in the magazine Pesca and Puertos that such companies would have to be regarded as "illegally fishing in Argentine jurisdiction waters"
Describing this kind of proposal as "nothing new", Councillor Summers said that it was not clear to him exactly what the Argentinean government was planning to do or how far advanced they might be with the process of trying to issue such sanctions. He suspected that the process was not very far advanced, but concluded that "we have to wait and see."
Asked whether vessels licensed to fish in the Falklands zone should avoid getting too close to the boundaries with the Argentine zone, Cllr. Summers said that he thought it unnecessary as the Falklands zone and its boundaries with the Argentine zone were clearly delineated. On the other hand, after the recent case of arrest of the Falklands flagged vessel, the John Cheek, a lack of clarity on the part of the Argentine authorities about their boundaries with international waters, would seem to indicate a more circumspect approach.
He concluded, "It is important, always, in international law to try to get the facts clear and defined for everybody's benefit. The Falklands are not the only people to have had trouble with vessels being arrested in areas on the high seas where they thought they were in international waters and the Argentines say they're not and take them in and fine them."
"You can refuse to pay the fines, of course, but that means that you are there for months on end; you may end up losing your vessel or goodness knows what. So companies are forced to take a practical point of view. Now that's not at all satisfactory".
"Both the British and Spanish governments, I know, have tried to get the Argentine government to define more precisely where they regard the edge of their zone as being, but that's not quite so easy."
John Fowler (Mercopress) Stanley