CALAMASUR, OPRAS conservation effort could squeeze huge Chinese squid-fishing fleet

Published on
July 28, 2020

Two Latin American fishery conservation groups have teamed up to fight illegal fishing of squid in the international waters of the southwest Atlantic and the Pacific in a move that could have consequences for the large Chinese fleet in the region.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between CALAMASUR [the Committee for the Sustainable Management of the Jumbo Flying Squid in the South Pacific], which includes industry stakeholders from Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru, and OPRAS, the Organization for the Protection of Resources in the Southwest Atlantic.

The agreement “aims to provide a suitable framework and an explicit form to the cooperation between both organizations to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in all maritime areas...” according to a joint statement from the organizations party to the MoU. “In particular, this cooperation strives to eradicate illegal fishing through the sustainable management of resources beyond the jurisdictional boundaries of coastal states … Due to their migratory condition, these resources along with other species of the ecosystem, are subject to irregular and predatory exploitation by foreign long-distance fishing fleets.”

OPRAS Director Eduardo Pucci told SeafoodSource “the objective is to reach an agreement between riparian countries to establish a specific regime of regulation and conservation of the ecosystem.”

Pucci said his organization and partners want “to strengthen cooperation with coastal states suffering from predation by foreign fleets beyond their jurisdictions.” 

Ultimately, the plan is to get an agreement or arrangement between the states with the support of private sector fishing alliances, Pucci said.

“We seek to establish an institutional network that has the enough power and representation to go with claims and requests to the United Nations and FAO agencies. We have already made presentations and diagnoses,” he said. “[It] shall require joint work at all levels, both nationally and internationally.” 

Pucc said there are sufficiently resourced institutions in place to make such a goal possible in the Southwest Atlantic, naming INIDEP (El Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero, Argentina’s National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development), and adequate and control and patrol systems in the form of Argentine and Brazilian government vessels to take objective and effective measures for conservation and sustainable exploitation. But he said the effort will require participation beyond Latin America.

“In any case, and beyond the dissuasive presence of the naval authority's control vessels in the area, it will be necessary to obtain international cooperation to achieve the objective,” he said.

Pucci declined to say if Chinese fishing firms or representatives have been consulted on the project. China’s government made a highly publicized move in June to enact a three-month moratorium of squid fishing by the country’s vessels in the southwestern Atlantic, ostensibly aimed at conserving squid resources.

Photo courtesy of Sea Shepherd

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