Chilean authorities limit bottom trawling in 98 percent of EEZ

Chile’s Fisheries and Aquaculture undersecretary Subpesca announced it would limit bottom trawling practices in 98 percent of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a measure authorities and NGOs said reaffirms the government’s support for a more sustainable fishing industry.

According to a Subpesca statement, the announcement was made jointly with Oceana Chile, and freezes the fishing footprint for common hake, crustacean, and demersal species. Subpesca Undersecretary Pablo Berazaluce said that the government has based the fishery footprint on activity over the last 15 to 16 years, and that the freeze would mean current economic activity or jobs would not be threatened.

“In this sense, working with civil society organizations with whom we share the mission of harmonizing economic activities while taking care of the environment, is crucial,” he said, adding that it demonstrates the continued commitment of President Michelle Bachelet’s administration to the sustainability standards.

Oceana Chile Executive Director Liesbeth van der Meer welcomed the decision.

“Banning the expansion of bottom trawling is a major step in protecting the oceans, preventing fleets from fishing for crustaceans and hakes from trawling new areas,” van der Meer said.

The NGO presented a plan for a progressive elimination of trawling in Chile in 2016. At that time, the organization presented results from a study that showed 3,905 square kilometers of marine surface were affected by fishing gear annually. It also showed that there has been an expansion of trawling to new areas, and that 554 square kilometers of marine surface are trawled annually.

Van de Meer also said that the initiative followed Subpesca’s processes to study and socialize such measures, and demonstrates the importance of these protocols and the dialogue between NGOs, the government, industry, and small-scale fisheries.

The measure is another step to “encourage selective fishing methods,” van der Meer added.


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