Following on from the appearance of what appears to have been more jiggers than normal in Stanley harbour recently, Falkland Islands Director of Natural Resources John Barton says there are some 80 Illex jiggers licensed and fishing in Falkland Islands zones at present, and 88 jigging licences have been issued.
He describes the level of interest as “encouraging,” after what have been a couple of poor years, and some prior years when interest fell to as few as 40.
Catches have been variable so far, with some vessels reporting in excess of 50 tons per night, while others are reporting less than ten tons. Although the average catch has gradually built up to around 20 tons per night, Mr Barton says it is still too early to forecast how the season will develop.
The limited presence of squid outside Argentina’s exclusive economic zone has been of concern to their squid jigger fleet recently, according to the UPI press agency, which on Tuesday quoted Guillermo de los Santos, President of the Chamber for Jigger Fishing
Shipowners of Argentina, as blaming Chinese and South Korean ships with fishing licences from the Falkland Islands for “destroying stocks of the resource,” although catching very little.
In response to this criticism, Mr Barton told the Penguin News: “Any vessels fishing for Illex have the potential to impact on the stock. This includes vessels fishing on the high seas, in the Argentine fishery and in Falkland waters.
“It is for this very reason that we have advocated a regional fisheries management organisation and process for the Southwest Atlantic and Illex in particular.
“We were also supportive of the scientific work carried out under the auspices of the South Atlantic Fisheries Commission (SAFC) and the useful conservation work achieved through that process. That process could be continuing had Argentina not reduced her participation.
“Effective management of Illex will only work if management measures are applied to the whole stock with a co-ordinated approach throughout the region.
“Over the last five years the Argentine fishery has caught 763.000 tons of Illex, whereas 364.000 tons have been taken in FI waters over the same period.
“It is clear which fishery has the largest impact. However, there is no future in that style of argument, and the bigger game is having some regional conservation framework for the whole Illex stock.
“In its heyday the SAFC was well on the way to achieving that.”
By John Fowler – Penguin News – Port Stanley