Last Tuesday, 11 tons of squid were found in a Chinese flagged vessel that was captured by the Uruguayan Navy, after a chase that took place between Sunday night and early Monday morning.
After this news, the issue of illegal fishing in the South Atlantic and in Uruguayan waters was again a topic on the newspapers in the last hours in the country’s media.
In this regard, Uruguayan marine biologist and oceanographer Andrés Milessi, coordinator of the One Sea project, spoke on the radio program En Perspectiva and affirmed that there are between 350 and 400 foreign ships operating in the Western South Atlantic.
Most of them are Chinese, but there are also Taiwanese, Portuguese, Spanish, of various nationalities that come to fish here, he said.
However, Milessi clarified that those fishing outside the 200 jurisdictional miles of each country, that is, in international waters, is a fishing considered unreported or unregulated.
”Foreign fishing vessels come to this area for two reasons. One is because their fishing grounds are over and there are still resources in our seas. Then they know that there is no regional regulation (between Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina and Malvinas). Anyone can come and catch without needing a fishing permit. But it is only when it enters national waters that illegal fishing occurs, explained Milessi.
The biologist reported that worldwide illegal fishing is estimated at 20% to 30% of total catches.
In Uruguay we have a serious problem, which is not illegal fishing by Chinese boats, but by Brazilian boats. On the border between Uruguay and Brazil, these boats cross into Uruguay to fish illegally. What happens is that when we catch one of those 350 vessels in the South Atlantic, a debate is generated. But it is a problem we have had for 30 or 40 years,” Milessi summarized.