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Four hundred ships, mainly Chinese and South Korean, take advantage of the lack of international regulation to fish without any restrictions. It is estimated that per year they capture between 200,000 and one million tons causing damage to species abundance and diversity.
About 400 foreign ships hide behind the 200 mile limit, about 321 kilometers from Comodoro Rivadavia to fish without any controls, where Argentina can not do anything because it is no longer the Argentine Sea.
On January 16, the conservationist Milko Schvartzman counted at least 300 fishing boats between the 42nd and 46th parallel, off the coast of Chubut but beyond mile 200, where the waters are international. He did not have to fly over the area. It simply entered a platform where most of the ships are located in real time in a satellite way.
They are pirate ships because nobody controls what they fish and how they fish. They hide behind mile 200, where international legislation does not regulate the exploitation of fishery resources, “says Milko, who leads the Oceanosanos project, based in Montevideo and funded by the Leonardo Di Caprio Foundation.
It is not necessary to simply believe him. It is better to look at this satellite capture and see how the ships pile up in front of Chubut, but behind the red line that marks the end of the Argentine Sea, to where the Prefecture has the power to watch that no one fishes without permission.
They squish with the squid
Most of the boats are Chinese, around 40%. The rest are from South Korea, Taiwan and Spain. About half of them look for squid.
“Per year, they fish between 200 thousand and one million tons. Preferably capture squid, but also hake, toothfish and pollack, “says Eduardo Pucci, director of the Organization for the Protection of Natural Resources of the South West Atlantic (Opras), a local NGO that has the support of the national fisheries sector.
For Oceanosanos, that “pirate” fishing bill at least 800 million dollars a year. For Opras, it does not fall below 3,000 million dollars, 1,000 million more than what represents the entire Argentine fishing export.
Environmental damage and marine biodiversity is difficult to measure because there are no records of what is caught. “What we can say is that the damage exists, absolutely. It is a damage on the abundance of species and on diversity, “they say from Opras.
Milko, from Oceanosanos, adds that the squid is at the center of the marine food chain: “If you attack the species on which a large part of the other fish depends, you attack the entire ecosystem.”
For Javier García Espil, National Director of Environmental Management of Water and Aquatic Ecosystems, any unregulated activity has an impact. “Within the Argentine Sea we work in responsible fishing practices, to avoid, for example, incidental (accidental) fishing.We also study the biomass and how the fish population fluctuates to avoid depleting the stock of fish. That is why catch quotas are granted, “Espil says.
All this is what does not happen after mile 201. Many boats fish with trawls and accidentally kill albatrosses or catch fish that they later discard because they have no commercial value.
“Everything that happens in these international waters impacts the Argentinean Sea because the species are migratory, they go from one place to another, like whales, killer whales, elephant seals, sharks, rays and squid,” points out García Espil.