The Falkland Islands government has issued a high number of licenses for the 2012 Ilex season with almost a hundred jiggers operating which compares positively to previous years, according to the Director of Natural Resources John Barton.
“We’ve had a lot of interest again for Ilex licences for 2012. Last year we had about 90 vessels operating and this year we’re a bit over that, closer to 100 so again it’s a lot of interest in licences, at least at this stage of the season”, said Barton.
However Barton also admits that the number is still down from the sort of real peak in licences a few years ago at about 125 but anyway it is very positive “because quite a short time ago the numbers we had were about 40/45”
Barton explained that the pick up in licence numbers can be tracked to the government’s refund policy and because last year squid prices were good.
“The refund policy takes some of the risk out for the folk in the ilex fishery and I think also that certainly last year, the results were pretty good for the fishing. Catches were sort of average, it wasn’t a big year by any means, but it was better than some of the years we’ve had, and some of the prices were really quite good”, pointed out Barton.
The head of the Natural Resources Department summed up the situation saying basically a bit more reassurance and probably the licensees are in a better financial position in terms of guaranteeing licence fees.
Finally as to the prospects for the current Ilex season Barton indicated it was too early to forecast but the first few vessels that came to pick up their licences in Stanley are all fishing at the moment even when some are going back onto the high seas where apparently ‘catch rates must be better’.
“But most are staying in Falklands’ waters and catches at this stage are quite variable. We’ve had highs of 20 or 30 tons for some vessels, and equally some vessels on the odd night haven’t caught anything at all so it is quite variable but it very early in the season at the moment and that’s not great surprise” concluded Barton. (FIRS).-