British flagged fishing vessels are illegally operating in South Georgia waters, with illegitimate licenses awarded by the United Kingdom, and outside of the multilateral agreement which rules operations in those fisheries, according to a formal complaint from the Argentine foreign ministry made public.
Fishing operations in waters surrounding the South Georgia island, since 1982 are ruled by the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctica Marine Living Resources, a multilateral organization made up of 26 countries, among which Argentina and the United Kingdom are members.
Since this season no agreement was reached to allow for the catch of toothfish in the Georgia islands waters, the awarding of British licenses is thus illegal and violates CCAMLR rules, which during forty years have helped to avoid overfishing and the collapse of the Antarctic marine ecosystem, adds the release.
Argentina rejects categorically bilaterally and multilaterally the unilateral decision by the UK which represent a serious non compliance of the rules of the Antarctic Treaty System.
Given this illegal situation Argentina is undertaking strong actions in defense of the multilateral regime and preserving its national policy in respect of the Malvinas Question. Following on this, Argentina recently reaffirmed its position in the Antarctic Treaty Consultive Meeting, the main Antarctic forum which this year met in Berlin.
Argentina has also called on all CCAMLR members to avoid trading such species, product of an illegal fishing. It has also requested the CCALMR Executive Secretariat to incorporate these British flagged fishing vessels to the list of vessels involved in illegal, unregulated, unreported operations, and calling on the support of other members is such a process.
Finally Argentina reiterates its rejection of UK unilateral actions, since they are in violation of the CCALMR rules and to not adjust to the principles of Antarctic cooperation and good faith which characterizes deh Antarctic Treaty System, and demands an immediate end to this illegal fishing activity.
The fact is that the conflict which also involves United States was born out of Russia's obstruction to set catch limits in the CCAMLR area, as part of global tensions resulting from its invasion of Ukraine.
In effect, last year, amid tensions with the west over Ukraine, Russia rejected catch limits for Patagonia toothfish set by the 26-member fishing regulatory body, CCAMLR.
This boreal spring, UK responded by issuing licenses to four British flagged vessels to fish for the species off the coast of South Georgia, some a thousand kilometers east of the Falkland Islands.
And immediately US officials said the UK’s actions breach the commission’s rules, rendering the catch illegal. The feud has also sparked fears it could threaten wider international cooperation over the fishery, to which Argentina has now joined. Argentina claims the Falklands and South Atlantic islands, which are under British rule as Overseas Territories.