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Fisheries News.

Tuesday, December 7th 2004 - 20:00 UTC
Full article

Headlines:
South Africa cracks down on quota fraud; Dramatic drop in stocks forces fisheries bill review; EU Court blasts Spain for exceeding fishing quotas.

South Africa cracks down on quota fraud The South Africa Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) authorities have kicked off a campaign to identify and revoke fraudulent applications for quotas reserved for traditional fishers who earn their income, or a substantial part of their income, from fishing. The MCM stated to The Cape Argus news that "the department will not tolerate a situation in which persons abuse the system by presenting misleading information or lying under oath in quota applications." The MCMs verification unit is working with external auditing firms to review all applications for new or renewed licences and has also set up an anonymous phone line for informants. The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has already issued several Section 28 notices, under the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998, which empowers the department to revoke quotas. The reasons for revocation of permits have ranged from incomplete disclosure of other sources of income to failure to inform the department of emigration events. Persons who have had their permits revoked include a policeman, a senior navy official, a convicted perlemoen poacher, a project manager for the Department of Public Works, and a man who had emigrated to New Zealand DEAs chief director of fisheries and coastal management Shaheen Moolla stated that "In the past almost no one was fined or prosecuted for misuse of the system, overfishing, or blatantly lying under oath when submitting the quota application forms. What one has to realize is that our fisheries are under siege, and we are determined to maintain the integrity of the process and enforce the law. (FIS/MP).

Dramatic drop in stocks forces fisheries bill review

Chilean senators decided to send the General Fisheries and Aquaculture Bill that was under debate back to the Senate's Fisheries Commission. The decision was adopted after learning about "the troubling new data indicating a drastic fall in stocks of common hake, jack mackerel, yellow shrimp, prawn, and hoki," reported Senator José Ruiz de Giorgio. President of the Fisheries Commission, Ruiz de Giorgio, explained in a press release issued by the Senate that "in the case of hake, which is one of the basic resources of the central region, the stock has dropped 20%" This anticipates the emergence of a social crisis whose outcomes are easy to imagine and are already showing". Regarding jack mackerel, Senator Ruiz de Giorgio recalled the species had been the main issue in the short fishing law, with the establishment of maximum allowable catches, and highlighted that today's stocks are 50% lower. "Far from improving, supposedly because of the implementation of these norms, resource availability has suffered a significant worsening and this is the reason why the long fishing law's protecting resolutions require review" claimed the Senator. This new data prompted Ruiz de Giorgio to emphasise the urgent need to review the resource-protecting resolutions included in the law under debate. After learning about the new data, senators Jorge Martínez Busch, Jorge Arancibia and Nelson Avila supported the petition. The legislators maintained that all though the debate of the initiative they had warned about "the risk of the fall in hydro-biologic resources, and now it is useful to review the agreements that had been adopted in favour of their preservation." They also requested the government prepare a thorough report on the present state of the availability of the main fishing resources in Chilean waters. Meanwhile, members of the NGO Oceana declared themselves in favour of the Senate's decision of sending the bill back to the Fisheries Commission. Oceana director, Marcel Claude, said, "This incident shows how right we were in repeatedly questioning the over-exploitation of those species and the way in which the resources are being managed through the so called maximum allowable catch per vessel owner". Claude also noted other causes that have led to the fall of the Chilean resource, and cited "the indiscriminate use of destructive fishing techniques, like trawling, and the scarce supervision by government offices." (FIS/MP).

EU Court blasts Spain for exceeding fishing quotas

The European Union Court of Justice condemned Spain for failing to control over-fishing of several species and for failing to take legal or administrative actions against those responsible for these practices during the fishing seasons from 1990 through 1997. The highest judicial authority at the European Union (EU) has blamed the Spanish authorities for failing to set the adequate means of allocating quotas, and for failing to carry out inspections and controls required by EU rules in force during the 1990s. The court also proved that Spain had neither imposed a temporary ban on fishing when the quota was exhausted, or adopted "every penal and administrative measure" that it should have applied against the skippers of the vessels that breached the community rules or "against any other person responsible for such infraction," indicated the RSC agency. The European Commission (EC) had previously sued the Spanish State at the Court of Justice for the manner in which the fishing seasons had been undertaken for mackerel in 1990, for cod and mackerel in 1991, for cod in 1992 and 1994, for black halibut and redfish in 1995, and for "other species" in 1996. The Court analysed first the case of the 1990 mackerel season, during which the quota allocated to Spanish vessels was exceeded by 99 tonnes. It indicated that Spain had filed five administrative proceedings against the offenders, which resulted in three sanctions, and ruled that it has not been proved that the proceedings and the sanctions have not affected the total excess of quota. The Court concluded that the country's non compliance with its obligations could not be established. However, the sentence concludes that the Spanish Government has provided conclusive evidence that cod landings carried out in 1991 and 1992 after the end of the fishing season came from catches made before the authorised deadline. Furthermore, it indicates that Spain did not take any measure against over-fishing of redfish in 1995, and of various species for which there was no quota during the seasons of 1995 and 1996. In its defense, the Spanish Government states that no case can be proven against fishing without a quota, so it voiced its disagreement with the application of sanctions. Although the Spanish authorities claimed from the beginning of the case that they had difficulties in applying mechanisms to control the fishing quotas and mentioned the efforts made to improve them, the Court of Justice stated that "between 1990 and 1997, the Spanish Authorities should have started penal or administrative actions against the many over-fishing cases analysed in this sentence." Its conclusion indicated that "the Spanish Kingdom has thus failed to comply with its obligations (...), as it has taken only a few actions and imposed merely a few sanctions." Sources from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) claimed that now Spain has mechanisms to supervise and limit fishing activity, so the fleet no longer exceeds the quota allocated. Moreover, they insisted that if Spain can prove this fact at Brussels, it is possible that the Court of Luxemburg ruling will have no consequences. Fisheries Minister Elena Espinosa, underlined that the Spanish government "has enough means to control the fishing quotas". (FIS/MP).-

Categories: Mercosur.

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