Rodrigo Sarquis, Sonapesca president. (Photo: Stockfile)
'Ghost' vessels’ illegal fishing worries Sonapesca
Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 23:10 (GMT + 9)
The National Fisheries Society (Sonapesca) has expressed "surprise and alarm" over the claim made by a nongovernmental organization that ensures that about 24 foreign vessels performed illegal fishing activities in the Chilean sea surrounding Easter Island.
According to the NGO The Pew Charitable Trusts, around 73 foreign vessels entered the area and at least 24 developed fishing illegally.
Ernesto Escobar of Global Ocean Legacy Chile said the ships remain in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Chile and work thanks to the support of oil and tank companies, the newspaper La Tercera reported.
Sonapesca president, Rodrigo Sarquis, stressed that at present there is satellite technology to detect and control illegal situations as those alleged, and he urged the Government to protect the resources and the sovereignty of Chile.
Besides, he also called on the Pacific Regional Fisheries Organization (ORP- PS), which recently came into effect to be internalized on the subject.
Sarquis believes it is necessary that the Regional Organization takes steps to identify and sanction the "ghost ships."
One of the vessels involved was identified as the Fortuna II, from Vanuatu (a country of the ORP-PS) when one of his crew members was injured and landed in Hanga Roa Bay.
Sonapesca president says the horse mackerel fishery is in a delicate situation, which is largely due to the overfishing activity performed by foreign factory ships in the 200-mile limit.
"With enormous sacrifice by the Chilean fishing companies and their employees, and with the authorities, in recent years very low catch quotas have been set and we have respected them, seeking the recovery of horse mackerel," recalled the director.
"However, if there are ghost vessels in our seas fishing illegally, all our sacrifice would have been in vain," he added.
Sarquis argues that it is necessary for Peru to sign the ORP, implement conservation standards, especially as to the global catch quota - and to strictly monitor the fleet and the access to port terminals.
He also warns of the possibility that these 'ghost' vessels may be fishing around the archipelago of Juan Fernandez.
Finally, he insists that it is essential for the new Fisheries Act to be fully implemented nationally, and for the scientific committee of horse mackerel to be settled "so that this organization, with the best technical background, determines the 2014 global quota."
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