Illex squid catches and landings in Argentine ports are considerably less than last season claims the Argentine industry, which is corroborated by official statistics from the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Fishery, and Food (SAGP&A).
Landings of squid in Argentine ports between January first and March 20 totalled 10.582, which is not even half the 23.572 tons volume of the same period (plus a week, March 27) a year ago.
Industry blames the poorer catches on two factors: the delayed departure of many jigger vessels and diminished squid stocks in the Argentine Sea (South Atlantic) compared to the previous fishing season.
“An average of 15 tons is being fished daily, half of what was caught last year,” said Fernando Georgiadis, president of the Argentine Chamber of Jigger Fishing Vessels Shipowners (CAPA).
However, smaller catches could also have a positive impact, helping to push up prices depressed by the global financial crisis and the slump in demand.
In terms of total landings through March 20, Mar del Plata received 5.848 tons of squid; Puerto Madryn, 3.426 tons and Puerto Deseado, 1.146 tons, among others.
The jigger fleet landed 8.049 tons of squid; trawler vessels, 1.837 tons; and fresh fish vessels, 683 tons.
But Mr. Georgiadis again remarked on the impact of the foreign vessels which operate in the Mile 201 area, bordering with Argentina’s EEZ. These vessels he claims, by operating from Montevideo, Uruguay, have an average operating cost 80 US dollars cheaper per ton.
“We need urgent measures that address our very high operating costs” he added.
Currently 73 Argentine flagged jigger vessels, divided into two groups, operate along the 200 mile border zone: one at Camarones Bay and the other, at Olivia Cove.
However in support of Mr. Georgiadis claims it is estimated 85 foreign vessels are operating outside Argentine waters, according to a Pescare report quoting sources from Argentina’s Coast Guard.
In related news, the Joint Technical Commission for the Argentine-Uruguay Maritime Front (CTMFM) will manages the Argentine-Uruguayan Common Fishing Zone had decided that the squid season in the area is to begin next April first.
The Commission will assess conditions of the biomass in July, during its plenary session, and fix a closing date for the 2009 season on the basis of technical information furnished by parties in attendance, it was reported. (FIS)