Hake fishing. (Photo: CeDePesca)
Northern hake stock decline denounced
Monday, September 03, 2012, 02:40 (GMT + 9)
The Development and Sustainable Fisheries Centre (CeDePesca) have requested national fisheries authorities to take action against the persistent state of exhaustion experienced by the hake (Merluccius hubbsi) in the country.
In a note to the head of the Undersecretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and president of the Federal Fisheries Council (CFP), Miguel Bustamante, the organization warns of the deteriorating situation faced by the northern hake stock and its relationship to the total allowable catches (CMP) allocated by the Government.
CeDePesca emphasizes that the reproductive biomass of the northern hake stock is below its limit reference point of 150,000 tonnes for over 13 years. And the entity states that since 1999, the resource has remained in a state of persistent exhaustion reproductive biomasses that are less than 100,000 tonnes.
To the NGO, a great part of the issue faced by this fishery comes about from a critical item: maximum catches have been set so far without considering the fact that the northern stock is a shared stock.
According to the technical reports issued by the National Fishing Research and Development Institute (Inidep), the estimates of the capture levels that are biologically acceptable are carried out for the whole northern stock.
Specifically, in a report dating back to 2010, the experts of the Institute argue that to recover the reproductive biomass of 150,000 tonnes in a seven-year term, captures should not exceed 72, 000 tonnes in 2011.
Besides, they add that "the biologically acceptable catch (BAC) is recommended for the entire northern stock and therefore, the catches of all the countries involved in its capture should be considered."
CeDePesca is concerned by the fact that the decision of the Joint Technical Commission for the Maritime Front (CTMFM) to limit hake catches in the Common Fishing Zone shared by Argentina and Uruguay (ZCPAU) up to 50,000 tonnes in 2011 and 2012, "has not been accompanied by the MPC set by the CFP for this stock (48,000 tonnes in 2011 and 40,000 tonnes in 2012)."
Because of this, it is stressed the northern hake stock continued being subjected to captures that are higher than those recommended by scientists.
It is noted that while last year’s landings were within the set limits by CTMFM and by CFP, they exceeded by almost 7,000 tonnes Inidep’s scientific recommendation for the medium-term recovery.
According to the data provided by the CTMFM, landings in the ZCPAU totalled 39,056 tonnes: 35,833 tonnes of the Uruguayan fleet and 3,223 tonnes of the Argentinean vessels.
Meanwhile, statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (Minagri) indicate that the national fleet unloaded 43,461 tonnes of hake north of parallel 41° South (a figure that includes what was captured within the ZCPAU).
These data show that the northern stock endured captures of more than 79,000 tonnes in 2011, "and a similar occurrence can be expected in 2012," adds CeDePesca.
The NGO warns that if the overfishing trend continues, the estimated recovery period of seven years by the Inidep "will not be met, in fact it will be extended, and this fishery will not achieve sustainability in the medium term."
"The strong and sustained fishing effort is unacceptable to us and we respectfully urge the use of good expertise within the CFP for making decisions to help reduce the fishing effort of the Argentinean fleet inside and outside the ZCPAU,” wrote the organization in a note addressed to Bustamante.
By Analia Murias