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Falklands drastically reduces squid fishing

Thursday, December 12th 2002 - 20:00 UTC
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Squid fishing in Falkland Islands' EEZ must be drastically reduced to promote the recovery of dwindling stocks say local authorities.

The Falkland Islands Government have decided to shorten fishing seasons as stocks of loligo squid have dropped dramatically during the last few months. This will seriously affect fleet activities that mostly work on a joint venture system between Falklands and Galician companies. Scientists estimate that a 50/60% reduction in the Loligo fishing effort is needed in the long term.

However the Spanish partners, represented by the Association of Community Fishery Joint Companies (Acemix), support the decision. "Obviously, it is in our best interest to comply with these bans," sector sources told Faro de Vigo.

"The loligo squid harvest season has been shortened to significantly reduce the fishing effort," confirmed Falklands' government spokesman Russ Jarvis in Stanley.

There was an agreement with the Government "to reduce the fishing effort to facilitate the survival of sufficient reproductive biomass," Jarvis told Penguin News. "Some fishing vessels will be allowed to stay in the area during the ban to collaborate with resource monitoring activities," he added.

Spanish partners confirmed that several of their vessels would help monitor stocks during the ban. Statistics provided by the companies are not encouraging; loligo catches have decreased dramatically from 65,000 tonnes in 2000 to 53,000 tonnes in 2001 and 23,000 tonnes in 2002, the lowest in record.

The reduction in fishing effort affects 16 large freezer vessels, based in Vigo but all in the Falklands Register and employing 640 crewmembers. Loligo fishery normally has two fishing seasons in Falklands' waters, February to May and August to October, but the first season will now extend for only six weeks instead of four months, from March to April 14th. However Falkland's fisheries authorities have said that in the event that conditions are good "it may be possible to extend the season, although the first priority will be to increase the spawning stock biomass at the end of the season".

The good relation and understanding between the Falklands government and Spanish companies makes the Falklands' fishery one of the more stable and better managed in the world. Pescanova, Pesca Puerta, Pereira, Copermar, Touza and Fontán freezer have joint ventures with local companies.

The Falklands fishing industry and Government are hoping that before the second fishing season begins, which extends from August through October 2003, squid stocks will recover. Therefore fishing effort for the second season will be determined after the first season results are known. Squid has a one year life cycle and it's difficult to make predictions. This year for unknown reasons Loligo migrated from Falklands EEZ to the high seas. The reduction in season length is a short term measure but the industry believes it could result in a reduced number of vessels in the longer term.

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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