The fishing industry in Punta Arenas, extreme south of Chile, is going through a serious recession --30% fall in landings-- which is not only impacting the activity of the four main companies, with lesser jobs, but also port operations and the price of freight as volumes are smaller, warned this week Enrique Gutierrez, General Manager of Pesca Chile.
Gutierrez made the statement following a regional meeting of the Austral South Federation of Fishing Industries, FIPES, which was specially convened to address the new circumstances under the umbrella organization, Ports' committee.
Industrial fishing has suffered a serious blow and 2015 has been the culminating year of that continuous slide. In 2012 we had 11 vessels in the fisheries, and now we are down to four, which means dropping from 30.000 tons to 10.000 tons of exports, pointed out Gutierrez.
He added that a similar situation has arisen for Empresa de Desarrollo Pesquero de Chile, Emdepes, with its fleet docked, likewise with GlobalPesca, and Pesca Cisne has only 50% of ships operating, to which must be added the fact that toothfish quotas have been drastically cut, and all of this is going to impact at all levels of activity in Punta Arenas, people must be aware.
Gutierrez also complained about unregulated fishing which has caused extreme damage to the fisheries, since probably they take three times what we as regulated companies catch; it is imperative to coordinate all efforts to rescue fisheries biomasses. This has a direct impact on the potential of our companies.
The umbrella organization, Ports' Committee, brings together every month the main organizations linked to fisheries and trade in Punta Arenas among which, Chile's Fisheries and Aquaculture Service; the Agriculture and Livestock Service; Customs; Austral Port Authority, Investigations Police, all geared to simplify administrative red tape and regulations.
Given that fish landings so far this year in Punta Arenas have fallen 30%, the situation has an impact on port activities, jobs and all other related industries.
At the meeting the case of Emdepes which operates from Punta Arenas port was shown as an example of difficult times: it provides for 120 jobs in landing and loading involving two vessels Unsen y Unionsur which call twelve times a year in Punta Arenas for 5/6 days at a time. This means 60 to 70 days work with an overall turnover of 17.000 tons of frozen fish plus fish meal, equivalent to 770 consolidated containers. This is no longer the case.
The impact of industrial fishing is very relevant for Punta Arenas port, because of jobs and freight but it has been diminishing rapidly. This is why the Ports' committee decided to invite all players involved in maritime and port activities to address the issue and see how we can work out things to help return to better times, pointed out Miguel Bisso, Operations Manager of Austral Ports Authority.