Argentina's Ministry of Agro-Industry has slapped the maximum fine to a Chilean fishing company, firm Empresas de Desarrollo Pesquero de Chile SA (Emdepes SA), a Chilean subsidiary of the Japanese group Nissui for illegal fishing activities in 2014 in Argentina's EEZ, close to the Falkland Islands.
The decision was implemented in the framework of Argentina's Federal Fisheries Act No. 24922, and according to the ministry is the first sanction of its kind in the history of the sector.
The fine, the highest possible imposed was 10 million Argentine Pesos which at the current exchange rate is almost 690.000 US dollars.
In a statement, the Ministry points out that the complaint was made by citizen Juan Benegas, who mistakenly received an email which stated that the Chilean flagged fishing vessel Union Sur had obtained a Falklands' fishing license, and reported the matter to the relevant authorities.
Following the complaint, made in late 2014 to the Foreign Ministry and the Under Secretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture of Argentina opened a probe and working jointly with Argentina's Coast Guard, gathered the necessary data and documents for procedure, which proved that the vessel fishing Union Sur carried out fishing activities in the area of the Falkland Islands, according to the official release.
The Argentine Coast Guard reported that in effect Union Sur, belonging to Emdepes SA, had sailed from Punta Arenas bound for the Falkland Islands with British (Falklands) fishing license.
This was based on Argentine legislation which bans simultaneous fishing licensed operations in Argentine (and Falklands) waters. In other words companies operating in the South Atlantic have to make sure they have no links with the Falklands if they pretend to catch with Argentine licenses.
Last January Foreign Ministry and Agro-Industry ministry sources confirmed that the Argentine government sent a summons to the Chilean company. In this context, the company took responsibility for the fact and decided to pay the imposed fine.