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Image: 'Follow the Lights: Squid Fishing in the Southeast Pacific Ocean' - Global Fishing Watch / FIS

No traps: Peru demands transparency from distant water fleets entering its ports

Click on the flag for more information about Peru PERU
Sunday, September 03, 2023, 16:00 (GMT + 9)

  • For many years, Peru offered access to ports and operational facilities to foreign distant water industrial fleets that account for almost 40% of the world's giant squid catches.
  • In 2020, the country issues Supreme Decree No. 016-2020-PRODUCE, which establishes the obligation for these fleets to have satellite monitoring from the Peruvian State as a measure to better monitor them because they have been severely questioned for illegal fishing. unreported and unregulated (IUU).
  • CALAMASUR and the Faculty of Law of the Universidad Cientifica del Sur held a webinar in which journalists, academics and experts participated, who analyzed the impact that this decree has had three years after its entry into force.
  • Only five vessels installed the satellite location system required by the country; Therefore, the vast majority of these were prevented from entering Peru since January 2021.
  • Only a small group of these vessels have continued to enter Peruvian ports between 2021 and 2022, citing force majeure reasons to justify entry.
  • However, this trend has recently changed. Only between June and August of this year, they have made more than 75 arrivals to Peru without using satellite positioning and claiming that they will enter port to carry out “crew disembarkation” when this is prohibited in light of the regulations of the decree.

Peru loses approximately $300 million a year from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, according to the FAO. For this reason, the Peruvian State must permanently take measures that limit this activity. One of these was Supreme Decree No. 016-2020-PRODUCE, which requires that any foreign flag vessel that wishes to use the country's port infrastructure have satellite tracking equipment that transmits its signal directly and without filters to the Peruvian authorities. . The logic of this was to prevent a foreign fleet that intends to use Peruvian ports from, in turn, manipulating its satellite data to hide that it is entering the Peruvian sea to fish illegally, a practice systematically reported by specialized institutions such as the NGO Global Fishing Watch.

Between 2015 and 2019, Peruvian ports recorded between 250 and 300 annual arrivals of vessels from distant water fleets to carry out maintenance, cleaning, supply and repairs due to their prolonged stay on the high seas. The first visible result of the decree is that after the regulation was issued, a considerable group of the foreign squid fleet returned to Asia. In 2020, a historical maximum of 192 entries was recorded to the port of Zhoushan and only 40 entries to Peru.

Intervention by Alfonso Miranda, president of Calamasur in the question and answer space

For Alfonso Miranda Eyzaguirre, president of the South Pacific Giant Squid Committee (CALAMASUR), it is surprising that vessels prefer to sail 7,500 nautical miles to carry out maintenance in the port of Zhoushan, at an approximate cost of one and a half million dollars alone. transportation, rather than subjecting themselves to the monitoring of the Peruvian authorities.

It is also striking that only five foreign vessels decided to comply with the requirement of installing the satellite tracking system (SISESAT), which has a monthly cost of approximately USD 200. This system forces vessels to transmit their position to the monitoring center. control of the Ministry of Production, six months before entering Peruvian ports. “It is evident that the refusal to install Peru's satellite tracking system is not due to financial limitations; but rather, it would point to non-transparent practices to avoid controls,” Miranda highlighted.

On the other hand, there are vessels that request entry into port using the “forced arrival” modality. With this, 36 vessels entered the country since the promulgation of the decree in question. "Forced arrival" could also constitute a strategy to evade regulations, because these requests cannot be rejected, since they are made due to force majeure situations such as, for example, having a seriously ill crew member or a mechanical failure in the vessel that could lead to an accident at sea. However, if forced arrivals are not duly verified through adequate inspection processes, the country could be compromised by violating compliance with the Agreement on Port State Measures, a pact global whose objective is the fight against illegal fishing.

Sabina Goldaracena, independent journalist invited to the webinar organized by Calamasur

However, the Uruguayan journalist, Sabina Goldaracena, warns about another mechanism that could currently be used to allow the arrival of vessels without due satellite control, this is the declaration of “crew disembarkation” which, coincidentally, has increased exponentially since June 2023. According to Goldaracena, between June and August there have been 75 arrivals that have been inappropriately considered exempt from compliance with the use of Peruvian satellite tracking by the Ministry of Production. “If this trend continues, by the end of this year the number of arrivals could be the same as the number before 2020,” she mentioned.

Lawyer Piero Rojas, professor of administrative law at the Scientific University of the South, added an important element to the analysis of this problem, the need to guarantee adequate control of foreign vessels. The teacher stated that inconsistencies and incomplete statements have been detected in the port inspection records that the Ministry of Production sends to the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO-PS), despite the fact that this constitutes the heart of the inspection. “It is a challenge for the State and the Ministry of Production to guarantee the effectiveness of the inspection, being very necessary to add evidentiary means to the inspections of foreign vessels; as they do exist in the inspections of national vessels,” he highlighted.

Eloy Aroni, attending as a representative of Artisonal

Eloy Aroni, representative of Artisonal, carried out an analysis on the dynamics of the distant water squid fleet. He mentioned that changes in Peru's port regulations have generated changes in the dynamics of this fleet's use of ports, but have not significantly impacted its presence in the Pacific region. Except at the beginning of 2021, as regulatory changes occurred in Peru, a large group of vessels returned to China and another went to the Atlantic, leaving only 130 vessels facing the Pacific. However, in the following years, fishing effort has increased significantly. In October 2022, a maximum peak of 98 thousand hours of fishing was reached with only 370 active vessels.

In another analysis, Aroni mentioned that the attendance of support vessels, such as freighters, has increased considerably, going from 719 encounter events in 2019 to 2,272 in 2022. “Encounter levels have more than doubled, with a smaller number of boats present per year,” he noted.

Journalist Magali Estrada, within the framework of her investigation, presented information that demonstrates that, since the publication of the norm, interested parties have made attempts to seek to question or obtain grace periods within the framework of this norm. In its development, she shared excerpts from letters obtained through the transparency law, which in the first instance were of an advisory nature. There were maritime agencies (Asia Marítima SAC, Naviera Blue Sea SAC) or telecommunications companies such as CLS Perú; who consulted regarding the fate of vessels that did not install SISESAT equipment within the established time or the possibility of installing it in foreign ports.

In a second instance, these had a character of observing the norm and questioning it. The Asia Maritime agency questioned the rule, because it did not specify what would happen to vessels that had been built after the rule came into force, even requesting a meeting.

The Ojo Público journalist highlighted that there was also a communication at the diplomatic level from the Republic of Korea, which addressed a letter to PRODUCE through the Peruvian embassy in that country, asking for details about a supposed grace period which was mentioned by an official. of PRODUCE in a supposed virtual meeting. “This document shows that not only is it an interested agency or fleet, but there is also a government behind it influencing the interests of its fleet and that, in addition, there have been previous meetings,” she said.

Alfonso Miranda invited the Government to strengthen port inspection processes, since, with the issuance of the decree, since January 2021, vessels that do not have SISESAT cannot enter Peru. He also encouraged compliance with the measures of the SPRFMO, of which Peru is a member. He assured that the decree marked a before and after in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Peru. “Before this regulation, we provided logistical facilities for the use of our shipyards to a fleet that was caught on several occasions turning off their satellite equipment to enter and fish illegally in Peruvian and Ecuadorian waters. Today, they cannot do it,” he concluded.

About the webinar

Is the Peruvian sea now more protected from the risk of IUU fishing? Balance three years after the publication of Supreme Decree No. 016-2020-PRODUCE took place on Friday, August 25, 2023, and was organized by CALAMASUR and the Faculty of Law of the Scientific University of the South (UCSUR). The event aimed to analyze the changes in the operation of distant water jigging vessels in the South Pacific, after the entry into force of Supreme Decree No. 016-2020-PRODUCE, and discuss the challenges to minimize fishing risks. IUU in the Peruvian sea.

The webinar had five panelists: Alfonso Miranda, president of CALAMASUR; Eloy Aroni, representative of Artisonal; Piero Rojas, lawyer specializing in administrative law and professor at UCSUR; Sabina Goldaracena, independent journalist, and Magali Estrada, journalist from Ojo Público. Each panelist shared the results of research they carried out that show the impact of the decree.

The event was moderated by Renato Gozzer, Director of Fisheries for Latin America, of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) organization; and, the welcome, from Andrés Dulanto, Dean of the Faculty of Law of UCSUR.

Source: CALAMASUR (translated from original in spanish)

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