Argentina has no interest whatsoever in fisheries conservation, Chair of the Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association (FIFCA) Cheryl Roberts stated this week, and Director of Natural Resources John Barton believes an Argentine action aimed at undermining the Falklands fishery is likely to have a negative impact on their own fishery.
They responded to news from the Argentine finance media, and reported on by MercoPress earlier this week, that the Argentine Federal Fisheries Council resolution to allow the registry of 20 additional jiggers in Argentine waters (with straddling fish stocks with the Falklands) was a political move against the Falklands and that local Argentine fishing chambers have in fact protested against the additional jiggers.
Mrs Roberts said: This follows on from their totally inappropriate decision to open the Argentine 2012 squid season early. I said then that such a decision had scant regard for potential impact on conservation in our fishing zone in Falklands’ waters, or their own in Argentine waters”.
She said to then go on to add another 20 vessels to their ilex fleet proved their interest was political, saying it highlighted to the rest of the world, “the difficulty we face when having to work alongside such neighbors”.
“Whether the inclusion of additional vessels will have an effect will be unknown until it is too late of course.”
FIFCA Vice-Chair Hamish Wylie described it as “environmental terrorism,” adding “we already know from the Argentine media, that the main objective behind licensing the premature fishing of illex is to decimate the stock. This is in order to make the Falklands’ fishery less attractive to the foreign fishing vessels on which our Islands economy depends.
“That the Argentines should engage in such environmental terrorism for political objectives should remind the world of how little their country has really changed in the past 30 years,” he said
John Barton commented “I think the key point is that there are a number of initiatives which could improve the outlook for illex squid. These include some of the actions which used to happen ten years ago under the auspices of the South Atlantic Fisheries Commission (SAFC) and prior to Argentina’s withdrawal from that process.
“At that time fisheries data was exchanged between the Falklands and Argentina allowing a better understanding of the illex squid stock, there were joint surveys of the illex resource, and there was the option for co-ordination of conservation measures. Conservation and management of illex could also benefit from a regional fisheries management organization; something which was also on the SAFC agenda.”
He said it would depend on the illex season whether there was much impact on the Falklands fishery. He warned “the bigger impact may be on their fishery.”
Another Falklands fishing industry insider said he too was not sure what the impact would be but, “I doubt that it will have much impact on what happens in the Falklands’ fishery but of course it is completely irresponsible of them to seek to increase the effort on the migrating illex regardless of the state of the stock simply for political ends.
“They seemingly take no account of their ecological and environmental responsibilities at all. In all probability it will be the Argentine fishing industry that suffers.” (PN).-