A new Strategic Fisheries Plan was presented by Argentine Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food, Antonio Berhongaray and Fisheries Department Director Horacio Rieznik, during the recent meeting of the Federal Fisheries Council that met for two days in Puerto Madryn and Rawson, Patagonia.
"The aim of the plan is the sustainable exploitation of resources, giving priority to Argentine companies and helping employment", said Mr. Berhongaray who anticipated that surveillance and monitoring steps will be strengthened to prevent poaching, including the launching of the Monpesat satellite tracking system.
The plan also contemplates a maximum annual catch hubsi hake quota of 200.000 tons, plus an increase in the number of Argentine jiggers with the purpose of increasing catches during the coming season, "given the surplus 2000 production".
The licensing system will also be reviewed, particularly concerning some species that are in need of conservation practices.
Mr. Berhongaray said that to compensate quota restrictions and as an alternative for inland farmers, aquaculture will be vigorously promoted by the Argentine government.
Although representatives of the fishing industry were cautious in their reactions to the announcements, most emphasised the fact that the Fededral Fisheries Council for the first time was convened in Patagonia and not in Buenos Aires. "It seems officials want a more direct and fluid communication with the provinces involved in fishing, which in itself is a great step forward", said one of the fisheries businessmen involved in the two days discussions.
Galician fleet waiting.
In spite of Senate ratification of the Argentine Fisheries Emergency Bill, which would enable the Spanish owned freezer fleet to operate under more flexible conditions in Argentina's fishing zone, the House of Representatives is still blocking the draft law thus preventing President De la Rúa from keeping his promise to the Galician fishing industry during his recent visit to Spain.
According to La Voz de Galicia, the new bill aims to regulate activities of some 60 freezer vessels, mostly Spanish, which are currently banned from operating north of parallel 48Ãâ€šÃ‚Âº S in the South Atlantic and from catching hubbsi hake.
During his visit to Galicia President De la Rúa promised to help the Spanish freezer vessels operate in similar conditions as the Argentine fresh fish vessels.. Galician fishing companies allege the ban enforced 18 months ago has cost them the equivalent of 450 million US d