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“Falklands under economic and environmental attack” by Argentina

Thursday, December 16th 2010 - 16:19 UTC
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Stuart Wallace, FIFCA Chairman  Stuart Wallace, FIFCA Chairman

“The Falklands are under economic and ‘environmental’ attack by Argentina” and this is having a direct impact on the South Atlantic fisheries sustainability of high seas marine resources, claimed the Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association, FIFCA.

Unfortunately “Argentina’s refusal to engage constructively in the management of straddling and high seas marine resources is a disgrace, impossible to understand in the times we live in” said Stuart Wallace chairman (*) during FIFCA annual general meeting in Stanley.

“It has already resulted in the collapse of the southern blue whiting stock, once one of the most abundant fish in the south west Atlantic, and will make impossible the proper management of remaining high seas and straddling stocks, a truly avoidable environmental tragedy”, underlined Wallace.

But in spite of the Argentine attacks, FIFCA was positive about the industry and the sustained development of the Faklands.

Wallace pointed out to the global reputation of the Falklands’ fishing companies and their commitment to support responsible management of the fishery.

“Our management system is based on sound scientific research, and with its property rights base of individually transferable quota underpins the management and commercial development of the fishery”.

Wallace said the fishing industry in the Falklands is a tough, complex and highly risky environment “without the added risks introduced by the irresponsibility of our neighbours”.

However in spite of adversity and neighbouring lack of responsibility it is encouraging to see that significant new members have joined FIFCA which means investors are prepared to risk their money, time in the development of the Falklands, “under a model of balance between local ownership and outside capital”.

FIFCA also underlined the good working relation with the Falklands’ government and mentioned some of the challenges for the industry such as port facilities and shipping services, and future infrastructure given the considerable increase of the fishing industry’s activities which are taking place in the Falklands.

The whole text of the speech follows:

Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of our Association it is my pleasure to welcome you here this evening.

I would like to strike a balance here between reviewing the past – the past year but focusing on the future rather than the past.

For our members the past twelve months have seen major collaborations with our Government, the EDS process consumed a great deal of time, on occasions tensions ran high but in the end the industry arrived at a position all could share, and which was incorporated into the final EDS document. I would like to thank Tom Blake and others who represented the industry in the core group over the two years. Of course the existence of an Economic Development Strategy is just a basis from which to work.

The fee review study is taking longer than anticipated, it is funded jointly by Industry and Government. Realistically it will be the new year now before a final report is available. Again much work is being undertaken on behalf of our members by one or two people, in this case in particular Drew Irvine who is our lead member of the working group involved.

The Association have met with Members of the Legislative Assembly and discussed matters such as the level of scientific support and observer coverage in the fishery and we have very much welcomed the open invitation from MLAs to discuss with them issues in the future.

Our fishery is globally recognised, the Falkland Islands fishing industry supports the responsible management of the fishery and are committed to acting responsibly. Our management system is based on sound scientific research, and with its property rights base of individually transferable quota underpins the management and commercial development of the fishery.

Unfortunately although we take tough and responsible decisions to ensure the sustainability of our resources, the Falklands are under economic and ‘environmental’ attack by Argentina. That country’s refusal to engage constructively in the management of straddling and high seas marine resources is a disgrace, impossible to understand in the times we live in. It has already resulted in the collapse of the southern blue whiting stock, once one of the most abundant fish in the south west Atlantic, and will make impossible the proper management of remaining high seas and straddling stocks. A truly avoidable environmental tragedy.

The fishing industry in the Falklands, I think even more than many other places, is a tough, complex and highly risky environment without the added risks introduced by the irresponsibility of our neighbours, it is therefore extremely encouraging that we have welcomed new significant quota owners as members, and have seen major transfers of quota during the year. Good on all concerned for being prepared to risk their money, to say nothing of committing their time, in the development of the Falklands.

I often hear how the Falklands need to encourage people to invest, this is an excellent example of people doing just that, raising the money, risking it in the Falklands and making major contributions to the public treasury in the form of tax paid by quota sellers, and at the same time demonstrating a model of balance between local ownership and welcoming outside capital.

I don’t think any of us envy MLAs the responsibility of deciding on what we do about port facilities, and, declaring an interest, shipping services to meet our future demands. I need to be a bit careful here because I have a commercial interest in the existing service but consideration of what we can achieve in the future inevitably means we must look at the facilities we will need.

Companies are already consigning product to an increasing number of destinations, shipments are being sorted on the dock, inspections carried out, complex export and health documentation is being prepared, vessels are being laid up, maintenance and repair work undertaken, valuable skills are being learnt, FIPASS is a busy place. Is it adequate for the medium term even? My reply is that if anyone thinks that it is then they must explain where and how they think we are going to develop in the Falklands.

I see this morning that oil prices have reached 91 dollars a barrel, less that the 147 dollars we faced in 2008/2009 but still very worrying. Fuel costs account for anything between 30 and 40 percent of industry costs, and of course freight rates increase with every fuel increase too. Many of our products are sold into southern Europe, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. We all know the economic position of these countries. But we produce food and our product is good. The market overall is currently holding up, some weakening is evident but there has not been a collapse in prices. But costs continue to rise and many of them not the sort we control.

So for the future we have a fishery managed to ensure sustainability, sound science, a commitment to fishing responsibly, an excellent reputation established over more than two decades and a property rights system providing an environment in which investors with the courage to invest in our sector have confidence. Our Government is considering how best to meet the growing infrastructure needs, is open to discussion and not least we have Government officers with whom we work on a daily basis who provide professional, friendly and helpful support to us all.

The future can’t be bad. Thank you.

* Mr Stuart Wallace was re-elected Chairman of the Association. He is assisted on the Board of Directors by Vice Chairman, Tom Blake, (RBC Ltd), Mike Summers (Pioneer Seafoods Ltd), Drew Irvine (Argos Ltd) and Lewis Clifton (Byron Holdings Ltd).
 

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  • Vulca

    At the begining, I suspected that Mercopress was an Agency tha already chosen a side. Now, I don't have no doubts. It's something like an Agency “landed” in Uruguay by British interests, disguised as a news office about South Atlantic issues. Come on, men! Give me a break!
    Why the English version of Mercopress is so active and the Spanish version is abandoned, with no updates? And why we have so much articles about the Falklands? What about issues involving the African shores of South Atlantic? We just have Falklands, Argentina and Brazil in the South Atlantic? Men, you really need to be smarter. It's something like a “Fifth column” group, for sure.

    Dec 16th, 2010 - 05:27 pm 0
  • AndrewG

    Because it's patently obvious that for years now Mercopress has found a niche reporting about the Falklands. There are very few online sources of news about the islands, and this is the only frequently updated one which is free.
    Look at the facebook site of Mercopress, you'll find most of the members have British surnames, for this reason.
    It's a business, it's aimed at making money, and they have identified their market.
    If you want to read mainly about south american issues, in Spanish, there are countless news sites for you to do so.

    Dec 16th, 2010 - 06:08 pm 0
  • ed

    #1 + #2 are great comments .

    British -Public Opinion- doesn't even has aware of these Malvinas Articles' subjects !

    Dec 16th, 2010 - 06:34 pm 0
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