The Argentine non government organization CeDePesca, Development and Sustainable Fisheries Centre have requested Argentine fisheries authorities to take action against the sustained over-fishing experienced by the hake (Merluccius hubbsi) in the South Atlantic.
In a letter to the head of the Argentine Under Secretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture and president of the Federal Fisheries Council (CFP), Miguel Bustamante, CeDePesca warns of the deteriorating situation faced by the northern hake stock and its relationship to the total allowable catches (CMP) allocated by the Argentine Government.
CeDePesca emphasizes that the reproductive biomass of the northern hake stock has been below its limit reference point of 150.000 tons for over 13 years. Since 1999 the resource has remained with a reproductive biomass of ‘persistent exhaustion’ with less than 100.000 tons.
For the NGO, much of the situation faced by the fishery comes about from a critical item: maximum catches have been set without considering the fact that the northern stock is a shared stock.
According to the technical reports issued by the National Fishing Research and Development Institute (Inidep), the estimates of catch levels that are biologically acceptable are carried out for the whole northern stock.
Specifically, in a report dating back to 2010, the experts of the Institute argue that to recover the reproductive biomass of 150,000 tons in a seven-year term, captures should not exceed 72.000 tons in 2011.
Besides, they add that ”the biologically acceptable catch (BAC) is recommended for the entire northern stock and therefore, the catches of all the countries involved in its capture should be considered”.
CeDePesca is concerned by the fact that the decision from the Joint Technical Commission for the Maritime Front (CTMFM) to limit hake catches in the Common Fishing Zone shared by Argentina and Uruguay (ZCPAU) to 50.000 tons in 2011 and 2012, ”has not been accompanied by the CMP set by the CFP for this stock (48.000 tons in 2011 and 40.000 tons in 2012).”
Because of this, the northern hake stock continues subject to catches that are higher than those recommended by scientists.
The note also underlines that while last year’s landings were within the set limits by CTMFM and by CFP, they exceeded by in almost 7.000 tons Inidep scientific recommendation for the medium-term recovery.
According to the data provided by the CTMFM, landings in the ZCPAU totaled 39.056 tons: 35.833 tons for the Uruguayan fleet and 3.223 tons for Argentinean vessels.
Meanwhile, statistics from the Argentine Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (Minagri) indicate that the country’s fleet unloaded 43.461 tons of hake north of parallel 41° South (a figure that includes what was captured within the ZCPAU).
The data thus shows that the northern stock was exposed to catches over the 79.000 tons in 2011 and a similar occurrence can be expected in 2012 adds CeDePesca.
The NGO warns that if the over-fishing trend continues, the recovery period of seven years estimated by Inidep will not be met, in fact it will be extended, and this fishery will not achieve sustainability in the medium term.
”The strong and sustained fishing effort is unacceptable to us and we respectfully urge the use of good expertise within the CFP for making decisions to help reduce the fishing effort of the Argentine fleet inside and outside the ZCPAU,” wrote the organization in a note addressed to Bustamante. (FIS)