NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
official media partner of national maritime foundation
Concern over Continued Foreign Ship Fishing in South Atlantic Waters
By Sea and Coast | 25/02/2023
An alliance of environmental organisations and representatives from the marine sector claim that foreign fishing vessels are encroaching on the South Atlantic waterways. They issue a warning that the operations are currently in danger of depleting stocks, a scenario that could lead to a significant environmental catastrophe and have a detrimental effect on the lives of local fishers.
The South Atlantic is on the verge of an environmental catastrophe, according to the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), which joined the campaign. They are drawing attention to foreign ships that have entered the waters along the Argentinean border, where they contend that unchecked overfishing is at its worst.
Fish stocks in the region off Argentina known as Mile 201 are reportedly being threatened by overfishing by commercial vessels from China, South Korea, Taiwan, Spain, and other nations, according to ITF. The area east of Argentina's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which is unsupervised and has become a center for large-scale operations, is where fishing is regulated up to 200 nautical miles from the EEZ.
This fishing is not legally unlawful because it is conducted outside of the Atlantic region that Argentina regulates. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, however, makes it plain that states must come to agreements to manage fish stocks. The ITF Fisheries Section's Chris Williams stated that this hasn't happened here.
ITF now requests that Argentina and all other nations with fishing vessels in the area quickly reach a consensus on precautionary quotas. Williams stated, "If not, we worry that significant fish species would disappear and nobody will be able to earn a career fishing there.
Because the South Atlantic is the only area of the world's oceans without an operational UN regional fisheries management agency, illegal fishing in these high seas is at an all-time high. The lengthy tussle between Argentina and the UK over the Malvinas/Falkland Islands, which are located on the southern fringe of the disputed zone, considerably complicates talks to establish such a body.
Based on the most recent statistics from the Argentine Naval Prefecture, the number of fishing boats in the vicinity is anticipated to have doubled over the past fifteen years, with Chinese ships alone jumping from 271 in 2020 to 375 in 2021. Fish populations, notably those of squid and hake, are becoming reduced as a result of increased overfishing.
According to a report by the non-profit organisation Oceana, boats from distant-water fleets congregate along Argentina's EEZ every year to reap the benefits of the remunerative fishing grounds because of the marine life's incredible diversity and abundance, which includes more than 330 different species of fish, nearly 120 deep-sea species, and a wide range of invertebrates. About 60 to 70 of the species are the focus of commercial fishing, including the second-largest squid fishery in the globe, the Argentine shortfin squid, which is caught in half of the globe's EEZ.
Authorities in Argentina have asserted time and time again that the majority of the ships exploit their proximity to its legal border to engage in a variety of illegal, unreported, and uncontrolled (IUU) fishing activities. Two offshore patrol ships were sent out by the Argentine Navy last year to keep an eye on the foreign fishing fleet passing by its border on its way to the South Atlantic.
According to the Oceana research, over 800 fishing vessels engaged in approximately 900,000 hours of apparent fishing between January 1, 2018, and April 25, 2021, inside 20 nautical miles of the invisible boundary between Argentina's national waters and the high seas.
Around 6,000 incidents of fishing vessels appearing to lose contact with their AIS electronic monitoring devices occurred over the time period. Around 66 percent of the "dark" vessels were Chinese-flagged squid jiggers, and the activities of the vessels were concealed for more than 600,000 hours.
Commercial fishing contributes $2.7 billion to the economy and accounts for 3.4 percent of Argentina's GDP, making it a key industry for the country.