Sernapesca director steps down amid regulatory reforms in Chile

Published on
April 20, 2018

The director of Sernapesca, Chile’s national fisheries service, has stepped down as the newly installed government of Chilean President Sebastian Piñera plans to make regulatory changes to the fishing industry. 

Sernapesca confirmed the departure of Josè Miguel Burgos in a statement published on its Twitter account, and that he would be replaced by the current vice director of aquaculture, Alicia Gallardo Lagno. No other details were provided by the agency in the official communication. 

Burgos held the position since 2014, and has worked in different roles for the agency since 1994. 

The exit came just as the fishery vice ministry Subpesca and Piñera’s government starts a push to implement new changes to Chile’s fishery laws. The ministry published a statement saying that the executive branch was preparing a work agenda and would introduce two bills in Chile’s Congress. 

The first, so-called “short law,” would be introduced within the initial 45 days of the new administration, in the beginning of May, and include more urgent matters, while a second, “long law” would include other regulatory changes and be introduced towards the end of 2018.

Among the matters to be addressed in the laws are fishing policies affecting the country’s benthic zones, the relocation of mussel concessions, and a plan to modernize Sernapesca. For mussels, the government wants to adjust its policies to match its salmon relocation norms, and for Sernapesca, the governments wants to reformulate the agency as part of a zero-tolerance policy against illegal fishing activities. 

Also, within 120 days, authorities want to create a new agency, Indespa, which will consolidate funds currently used by different public institutions to benefit the artisan fishing sector and its development. 

Burgos’ exit was not mentioned in the statement, but national daily La Tercera reported that Chile’s fishery and aquaculture vice minister, Eduardo Riquelme, asked for his resignation as part of the changes to the sector.  

One element mentioned in the report that could be up for national debate is the length and format of fishery concessions. An unnamed executive familiar with the talks between the industry and authorities told La Tercera that any changes to the country’s already-granted concessions would result in a legal battle. 

“I don’t see it so easy that they revoke rights that have been given,” the source told the newspaper.

Reporting from Santiago, Chile

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