Argentinean Coast Guard vessel guarding an arrested squid jigger
Laughable fines, another way to encourage illegal fishing
Saturday, May 09, 2020, 16:00 (GMT + 9)
Current fines represent a value, in dollars, equivalent to a good night's fishing for a foreign jigger
In the opening speech for ordinary sessions in Congress, President Alberto Fernández promised what several had already promised. Update the amounts of the fines provided in the Federal Fishing Law for those foreign vessels that are caught fishing within the exclusive economic zone.
The coronavirus pandemic and almost 50 days of compulsory social isolation for most Argentines, ran that commitment on the agenda. But the recent catches of the Portuguese trawler "Galvao" and the Chinese jiggger "Hong Pu 16" returned to focus on the outdated amounts.
Delay that Juan Manuel Bosch (former subsecretary of Fisheries) had already announced to correct when in February and December 2018 the Prefecture captured the Spanish ship "Playa Pesmar Uno" and the South Korean "O Yang 77", the latter with 300 tons in the hold.
"I want to raise the maximum fine to 80 million pesos, which will be adjusted in UVAs, with which we would avoid future downgrading. The floor would be 40 million pesos, ”explained the then Undersecretary of Fisheries, when the Asian vessel was still moored in Comodoro Rivadavia.
None of this happened and today the new offenders will continue to pay sums that have not been updated since 1998, when the maximum value was set at 10 million pesos, dollars at that time. At the official exchange rate, today they are less than a tenth of that value.
If you change the dollars in the blue market, the infraction would cost you less than $ 100,000. A ton of squid is worth around $ 2,500 and on a good night of fishing, the Chinese jig can catch up to 35 tons. One night is enough to pay the infraction. Or maybe less than one night ...
Patrol ARA Bouchard
To update these values, article 51 of the federal fisheries law must inevitably be amended. And to modify an article of a federal law requires the approval of both houses of the National Congress.
"Last year we tried but it was impossible for it to prosper," Bosch said in the last few hours when I asked him about it. "It is a lie, we called him to attend the maritime interests commission and he never appeared," confided an adviser to a deputy, at the time, an opponent.
It is clear that no matter how much efforts are made from the effective control in maritime areas over the 200 mile in defense of our fishing resources, it is necessary that Congress, the political parties, the ruling class, demonstrate the same interest in the defense of our sovereignty and act accordingly.
If there are no political or diplomatic actions capable of stopping the depredation of fish wealth, unless they are very expensive to be captured. And it is seen that whoever governs governs, it has never been a priority to reform the article and toughen penalties and sanctions. Today the owners of the Portuguese or Chinese ship will pay more for the capture operation than for violating the current legislation.
Author: Roberto Garrone / Pesca Chubut | Read full article here (Spanish)