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FAO 41 is one of the few Major Areas on the planet that does not yet have an international agreement to regulate and control fishing activity.

Falklands' fishing companies after a Southwest Atlantic fisheries management pact

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Thursday, April 25, 2024, 01:00 (GMT + 9)

“The Southwest Atlantic is the largest body of water in the in the world without a RFMO (regional fisheries management organization) and that’s something the Falkland Islands are very keen to see put in place,” said James Bates, Executive Secretary from the Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association (FIFCA) at the 2024 Seafood Expo Global in Barcelona, Spain this week.

 “There's no getting around the fact that you can see Asian long-distant fishing fleet in the Southwest Atlantic, even from space, and so we are crying out for cooperation, for an RFMO for the region that will include the likes of Great Britain, Argentina, and the Falklands that puts politics aside and focuses on the bigger the larger good,” added Mr. Bates to fish industry media, underlining that fishing remains the Falklands biggest economic driver, accounting for 65% of the Islands’ GDP in 2023.

The Islands play host to a fleet of licensed vessels fishing year-round for a diverse range of species, including loligo and illex squid, southern blue whiting, hake, king clip, red cod, rock cod, and Patagonian toothfish.

“We're responsible about our fisheries. For us, it’s fair to say that everybody's life in the Falklands is impacted by the fishing industry in one way, shape, or form. Obviously, the government receives license fees and corporation taxes, and that goes on to fund our government and life on the Islands,” Bates said.

Source: FAO Fisheries Department Fishing Maps

“The government of course is keen and enthusiastic to explore other sort of revenue streams, because obviously you can't have all your eggs in one basket. But at the moment, and probably for the next few years, at least, fishing will remain the number-one industry of importance to the Falklands.”

The geographic coverage of General RFMOs. Area of competence for each RFMO/RFB considered in the present review. GFCM is the only RFMO that includes areas within national jurisdiction. N.B. The SEAFO convention area overlaps with the CECAF area in the region to the north of Ascension Island (central Atlantic). CCAMLR -Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources; CECAF -Fisheries Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic; GFCM -General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean; NAFO -Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization; NEAFC -North-east Atlantic Fisheries Commission; NPFC -North Pacific Fisheries Commission; SEAFO -South-east Atlantic Fisheries Organisation; SIOFA -South Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement; SPRFMO -South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation; WECAFC -Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission..(click the image to enlarge it)

While the Falklands’ government maintains control over its exclusive economic zone, which stretches 200 miles out from the Islands except where it bumps up against Argentina’s EEZ, the area is a popular destination for distant vessels from other nations, particularly China.

Four Tuna RFMOs: the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT), the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC). | "This map could be very interesting for future developments and negotiations, since until now, the Argentine authorities have refused to consider the possibility of establishing an RFMO* in FAO 41 as a consequence of their claims on the Antarctic Peninsula, South Orkney Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands & Falklands (Malvinas). From here two aspects should be considered. On the one hand, Argentina is already part of an International Agreement in the CCAMLR together with the United Kingdom and on the other, in the very short term the option of establishing an RFMO focused on 'species' could be considered. and not in 'territory'. For example, a kind of ICCAT for squid would allow this important species to be protected, regulated and managed while governments analyze, discuss and negotiate some type of agreement on the entire FAO 41. There are already 3 RFMOs that cross Argentine territory!", commented Andres Loubet-Jambert, Co-Founder & Publisher of Fish Info & Services, Seafood Media Group | (click the image to enlarge it)

Bates said Argentina estimates annual losses of some US$ 25.5 million, Euros 22.5 million, tied to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in its waters, and has invested in expanding the surveillance and control capacity of maritime resources in a move to stop those losses. In an April 2020 incident, about 100 mostly Chinese-flagged squid jiggers were allegely fishing illegally in Argentina's national waters, with their automatic  tracking devices turned off, leading to a Argentine Coast Guard opening fire on one of the vessels.

(*) (The concept of a RFMO could actually be a Convention, Commission, Treaty, Agreement...)

Source: MercoPress

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