Chile has established a set of new fisheries laws protecting underwater sea mountains, limiting by-catch and setting science based quotas, protecting 150.000 square kilometers of marine habitat.
The new regulations ban bottom trawling in the country's vulnerable marine ecosystems, including all 118 underwater sea mountains, or seamounts, establishes a system in which all fishing quotas will be based on scientific recommendation, and requires the implementation of reduction plans for by-catch and discards for every commercial fishery.
International Advocacy Group, Oceana, which was instrumental in achieving the reforms, has welcomed the news as a historic milestone for the country.
Alex Muñoz, Oceana's executive director in Chile, said: ”We are happy that this new law includes the tools needed to establish sustainable fisheries management in Chile; but what's most important is that as a result of this long debate, we have come to understand, as a country, one of our great missions is to recover our overexploited fisheries.”
The Chilean Congress has also voted to overhaul how it sets quotas for its fisheries. This means that rather than rely on the commercial fishing industry to set its own catch limits, as has been the practice previously, regulators will set catch limits based on the best scientific recommendations moving forward.
Oceana says that although this news is a victory, there is still work to be done to ensure that the government implements these new regulations.
Further more some aspects of the new bill are liable to be disputed constitutionally according to Chile’s constitutional tribunal. A request to that matter is to be presented by fifty opposition lawmakers.