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Fisheries News

Saturday, December 14th 2002 - 20:00 UTC
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Headlines: Seafood 2002 launched in Mar del Plata; Red tide spans entire coast and causes one death; Chilean Fisheries law under fire; Clean salmon production agreement; Hake ban in Peru; Scientists assess global warming on Antarctic plankton; Australia and Russia dispute seized longliner;

Seafood 2002 launched in Mar del Plata

Seafood 2002, a joint Argentine-European Union enterprise was launched in Mar del Plata on Monday 9 December with the participation of representatives from Argentine and European companies related to the fisheries industry. Luis Solimeno e Hijos S.A. hosted the opening session which was attended by company president Antonio Solimeno, local organisers, president of Mar del Plata's Stock Exchange Eduardo Tomás Pezzati, and visitors from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Lithuania among others. The inauguration was followed by a presentation by Oscar Fortunado, president of the Argentine Council of Fishing Companies, CEPA, who supplied information on Argentina's fisheries, volumes and the main species caught in the country's EEZ and in the River Plate Common Fishing Zone (ZCP) shared with Uruguay. The species included hubssi hake (Merluccius hubbsi), Patagonian grenadier (Macroronus magellanicus), Argentine red shrimp (Pleoticus muelleri) and squid (Illex argentinus). Following the conference the audience was taken to Luis Solimeno e Hijos model plants in Mar del Plata port for a demostration. Seafood 2002 is sponsored by the European Commission Al-Invest Programme and the organisers include Eurocentro Mar del Plata; Mar del Plata Stock Exchange Foundation and CIP Consultores from Spain.

Red tide spans entire coast and causes one death

The authorities are warning the public not to eat bivalve molluscs following the discovery of "significant quantities" of diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) toxin. The red tide hit Patagonian coasts more than a week ago and has spread along the entire Argentine coast. The Sanitary and Food Quality Service (Senasa) has consequently banned all fishing and marketing of molluscs right along the coast from Samborombón Bay to Carmen de Patagones - in addition to the existing ban along Patagonian shores. There has been one reported death caused by eating contaminated shellfish in Puerto Deseado, Santa Cruz. Although health and municipal authorities had warned about the risk, three Korean sailors were taken to hospital in a very serious condition, and one of them died as he was being transferred to hospital in Comodoro Rivadavia District Hosiptal. The hosiptal's assistant director, José Benjamín Mercado, said the sailors had prepared a meal with mussels from Deseado firth and immediately showed symptoms of food poisoning. "The danger is not over," said Nélida González, director of Puerto Deseado Hospital, adding that the public should not to eat any type of mollusc such as Magellan mussels, mussels, cockles, snails, clams, oyster or scallops. In an interview with FIS.com, Nélida González explained that the ban is based on the fact that it is impossible for members of the public to distinguish molluscs that are contaminated from those that are not. "These smell, colour or taste is not affected, so it is impossible to know whether they are contaminated without a lab test." "The community needs to become aware that consumption of these products from the Argentine maritime coast could cause serious damage to human health and even death," she concluded. Diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) produces gastrointestinal effects with an onset of 30 minutes to a few hours, after consumption of contaminated shellfish. Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. With the holiday season approaching, Senasa is stressing that the public must not eat, buy or collect any molluscs unless they have official certification to indicate that they are safe for consumption.

Chilean Fisheries law under fire

Just hours after its approval, the controversial new Chilean Fisheries Law is already coming under fire from coastal and industrial sectors. The recently approved bill raises the cost of fishing permits, separates species and extends maximum catch limits by fleet owners for 10 years. It also distributes southern hake quotas equally among coastal and industrial fishermen. But apparently only the government and Congress, after an exhausting political agreement, are pleased with the new bill, that is an essential piece of Chile's Growth Promotion Agenda sponsored by beleaguered president Ricardo Lagos to boost the country's economy. Jan Stengel president of Bío-Bío's Regional Association of Industrial Fishery Companies said overall there's satisfaction since the 10-year extension of permits, provides "a minimum stability for industrial development and investments," he said. However he added that the Chilean industry will be paying the highest fees in the world for licences and will therefore have 10 million US dollars less to invest, according to an article published in El Mercurio. "Investments will not take place at the expected pace and intensity," he said adding "the more taxes, the fewer resources available." Mr. Stengel added that separating species is against industrial practice, "and consequently we will have to make some adjustments. This decision is extremely healthy for coastal fishermen". Rodrigo Vial, president of fleet owners' association Anapesca was more scathing in his criticism. "The law is very bad, it assigns fish arbitrarily and permanently," he told El Mercurio. As to the National Fisheries Council he said: "It is worse now, it includes representatives from the industry who will be completely dominated by company owners. Besides the Fisheries Under-Secretary will have discretionary powers to establish coastal fishing quotas, giving bureaucracy the upper hand and at some point as usually happens it might very well become corrupt at some point." However, Cosme Caracciolo, president of the National Confederation of Coastal Fishermen (Conapach), also expressed dissatisfaction. "Fish have become part of companies' assets. I cannot find any positive aspect in the new law," he said.

Clean salmon production agreement

Chilean authorities and 43 of the country's largest salmon farming companies signed a "clean production agreement" (APL) to raise environmental and production standards within the industry. APL is based on the idea of maintaining a balance between economic growth and environmental protection and will be enforced for a maximum period of two years. Authorities trust APL will raise production and environmental standards in the salmon industry which in turn will facilitate access to new markets with strict environment protection standards. Patricio Vallespín, governor of Chile's X Region told "El Area" that the agreement was "one of the most important achievements in terms of cooperation between the Region's public and private sectors". He described it as "an initial and relevant sign, which encompasses four very important elements, willingness, transparency, commitment and projection". Rafael Lorenzini, executive director of the National Clean Production Council told "Aqua" that the multilateral commitment "is a challenge for the productive sector and will force it to improve productivity". Lorenzini added that the agreement involves the whole of the industry, including suppliers, and "challenges us to conserve the environament". Salmon Industry Association (SalmónChile) president Víctor Hugo Puchi described the agreement as "a milestone in Chile's salmon farming history" adding that the number of companies that adhered reflects the industry's commitment to environmental matters. "Recycling, waste reduction and technology implementation initiatives will be launched and become the rule in all farming centres," he said.

Hake ban in Peru

Peruvian authorities are planning a three-year ban on hake fishing to protect dwindling stocks, said Eduardo Iriarte, the country's Minister of Production. "Our main duty is to preserve marine resources", stressed Mr. Iriarte adding that the resolution will be taken once the latest scientific reports from Peruvian Marine Institute are assessed. In an official announcement Mr. Iriarte insisted the ban would have to last two or three years as the resource is almost depleted. Hake catches currently are only 60,000 tonnes, much of which juveniles, when "the normal average fishing effort should be 200,000 tonnes". However to compensate in part the bad news, the Peruvian government anticipated that Congress will be passing a bill reducing taxes from 30 to 5% for sardine, horse mackerel and common mackerel fisheries. "La República" also reports that fishing fees are set to increase 215% per tonne caught for fleet owners and 57% for coastal fisheries. Mr. Iriarte pointed out that the increase only aims to compensate for the Peruvian currency devaluation and to make a distinction between industrial and coastal fishing that previous regulations failed to contemplate.

Scientists assess global warming on Antarctic plankton

A multidisciplinary team of Spanish scientists is conducting a study into the effects of global warming on Antarctica's marine plankton, which forms the basis of the marine food chain. The research is looking for evidence that higher water temperatures caused by the global greenhouse effect can effectively reduce marine species populations. Scientists believe that the very cold waters in Antarctica will be the first to suffer from global warming. The "Iceberg" project involves researchers from Spain's Scientific Investigation Council and Sea Sciences Institute onboard the oceanographic vessel Hespérides. The research is based on the hypothesis that gradual ocean warming, together with the increase of carbon dioxide fumes in the atmosphere, known as the greenhouse effect, can lead to a loss of biodiversity. The focus of the study in Antarctica's Gerlache strait is plankton, as evidence shows that a temperature increase of just between half and one degree speeds up bacteria reproduction and favours predators by making more food available to them. Spanish scientists - led by Dolores Vaqué Vidal - want to confirm the biodiversity loss, showing that other plankton organisms cannot survive in warmer waters. "Our goal is to analyse the impact that an increase in temperature has on organisms' metabolism, and the resulting higher production of carbon dioxide from their respiration," Vaque Vidal told ABC. It seems that water warming increases the metabolism of plankton micro species making them breathe faster. This in turn raises the amount of carbon dioxide produced. As the algae in plankton can't absorb all of it, excess carbon dioxide is released in the atmosphere, adding to the greenhouse effect, which leads to a greater impact in the temperature of the planet, and so a continuous closed cycle. The frozen Antarctic waters of Gerlache strait, with temperatures between -1° and 1° Centigrade, were chosen for the Iceberg project because the plankton there is particularly sensitive to temperature changes and feeds numerous aquatic species. Plankton, together with other important organisms in this environment, forms the basis of the marine food chain.

Australia and Russia dispute seized longliner

The Government of the Russian Federation lodged a demand this week before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) requesting the prompt release of a seized Russian flagged vessel, according to the Australian Federal Fisheries Minister Senator Ian Macdonald. The Volga was allegedly apprehended fishing illegally in Australian waters around Heard Island and McDonald in sub Antarctic waters in February 2002 and was promptly seized. Senator MacDonald said the amount of the bond for the release of the Volga set by Australia at AUD 3.33 million was reasonable, legal under international law, and could be justified. "We will do everything in our power to stamp out illegal fishing in Australian waters and if that means engaging in international legal action then that is something that we will not shirk from," he said. The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) determined the bond amount by taking into account the value of the vessel, its equipment and potential fines under Australian law. "The illegal fishers who raid our valuable Patagonian toothfish resources are pirates," Senator Macdonald said. "The returns that they generate are significant and the damage they do to the near pristine sub-Antarctic ecosystem is a serious concern". "The Australian Government believes that the amount of bond accurately reflects the value of the vessel and other assets and ensures that if released the vessel would not return to HIMI to fish illegally." Mr Macdonald said he was disappointed the Russian Government had decided on the path of litigation rather than one of cooperation and implementing measures aimed at eliminating illegal fishing. "The Australian Government is also very disappointed with the failure of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to make significant progress at its latest meeting in Hobart in October 2002 in implementing measures that will effectively prevent illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean," he said. "I am currently considering the Australian Government's response to Russia's ITLOS action, and I am also discussing the issue with the Attorney General and Foreign Affairs Ministry", concluded Senator MacDonald.

Source FIS&MP

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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