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Chilean Senate drafts bill to combat illegal fishing in Antarctic convergence area

Monday, December 27th 2010 - 08:20 UTC
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Toothfish is one of several species threatened Toothfish is one of several species threatened

The Chilean Senate Committee on Fisheries approved the project that modifies the Fisheries Law and severe establishes penalties for illegal catches in the Antarctic convergence area. The next step is a vote on the floor that seems secured given the committee’s outcome.

The bill seeks to align Chilean legislation to the standards established by the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, (CCAMLR).

Senator Antonio Horvath, president of the Committee on Fisheries, stressed that “the illegal harvesting of fisheries resources is the main factor which threatens the sustainability of the activity.“

That is why it constitutes a serious threat to the conservation of fish stocks, ”with many negative consequences for people living legally off of fisheries and the marine environment,” he added.

The senator explained CCAMLR is an international pact in the framework of the Antarctic Treaty System, which holds the purpose of defending the conservation of Antarctic species in the area.

The text of the treaty was adopted in Canberra on 20 May 1980 and entered into force on 7 April 1982. Chile is one of the 34 State Members to sign the Antarctic Treaty, and participated in the negotiation of the Convention.

The territorial scope of this treaty is the area of the Antarctic convergence, ie, where the waters of the Southern Ocean meet the warmer waters from the sub-Antarctic.

This area has a high biological productivity, because their fisheries are characterized by their longevity and late age of sexual maturity and therefore are particularly vulnerable to overexploitation.

For the CCAMLR Convention, the main aim is the management of such resources in its area of jurisdiction. CCAMLR is responsible for implementing those measures necessary to conserve marine life of the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica, in particular, fishery resources.

The Commission regards all illegal extractive activities that are carried out in the Convention area without the authorization to do so, to be in violation of the conditions set forth therein.

They also consider it illegitimate to not register or declare catches from the Convention area, to make false statements, fishing in closed seasons or in closed areas, using prohibited fishing gear in contravention of relevant conservation measures.

As a State Member of the Convention, Chile must adopt the legal tools to punish those that conduct acts that the Commission has banned. (FIS)

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