“The State must properly manage the fishing resource, an issue that involves three basic actions: “research, conserve and distribute” and, we add: design, agree and control the concession.

26 de April de 2023 09:12

"The fishing resource belongs to the National State and the Provincial States and not to the companies," César Lerena.

If we were in the 70s, today's Undersecretary of Fisheries and the Federal Fisheries Council (CFP) under his presidency, could not even live up to that time of industrial beginning in Argentina. 50 years have already passed and we could qualify today's official as a gray public agent who "seems to manage" the sector, where the few successes are the work of the wonderful marine nature and the efforts of businessmen and fishing workers who, overcoming the difficulties of a stupid State, which has has been unable to promote an activity that, at this point, should be exporting ten billion dollars and, today, is only close to two thousand, in addition, in 2022 it had one of the lowest exports of the five-year period.

Even without believing that the Federal Fisheries Law (24,922) is the most appropriate for national fishing and territorial development, since it should be reformed to modernize this fishing model that is 50 years behind, the Undersecretariat of Fisheries has not even complied with its Article 1 that says: " The Argentine Nation will promote the exercise of maritime fishing in pursuit of maximum development compatible with the rational use of living marine resources. It will promote the effective protection of national interests related to fishing and will promote the sustainability of the fishing activity, promoting the long-term conservation of resources, favoring the development of environmentally appropriate industrial processes that promote the obtaining of maximum added value and the greatest employment of Argentine labor .

To substantiate this statement, we will begin by remembering that the fishing resource belongs to the National State and the Provincial States and not to the companies. These are concessions from the State for the exploitation of resources with "... the maximum development compatible with the exploitation "rational management of marine living resources " says the aforementioned article 1 of the Law.

The State must properly manage the fishing resource, an issue that involves three basic actions: “research, conserve and distribute” and, we add: design, agree and control the concession. None of these issues has been adequately fulfilled by the Undersecretariat of Fisheries in this period, although neither did previous governments.

The investigation. The few study campaigns on the main species were limited to the Argentine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) without advancing on the high seas where migratory species originating from the Argentine sea arrive or vice versa; This not only threatens the sustainability of the resource but also prevents the development of strategies aimed at showing international organizations and those operating in the region the damage that uncontrolled fishing by foreign vessels on the high seas is causing to the ecosystem. In other words, it fails to comply with the aforementioned article 1, which indicates: " the maximum development compatible with the rational use of living marine resources ."

Conservation is not guaranteed, since, as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has said, the exploitation of the resource must be treated “in an integral manner and as a whole”, therefore, it is impossible to conserve the resource if it is not done in the EEZ, but also, on the high seas, with an agreed and equitable policy between the flag States and the coastal States. Here, Article 1 of Law 24,922 has not been complied with either, which says: " It will promote the "effective protection of national interests related to fishing and will promote the sustainability of fishing activity, promoting the long-term conservation of resources ."

The distribution. As we have already mentioned ( César Lerena “Train the Undersecretary of Fisheries”, 10/4/2023 ) this Undersecretary has produced the most important business concentration and denationalization of the fishing activity of all time, where 70% of exports are in the hands of 20 companies and of that 70%, 70% are foreign companies, whose 60% of exports are raw materials with low added value, significantly reducing registered employment; etc. That is, it fails to comply with the aforementioned article 1, which says: " favoring the development of environmentally appropriate industrial processes that promote obtaining maximum added value and greater employment of Argentine labor ." When exporting with low added value Labor is being given away to developed nations that transform raw materials in their destination countries or re-export them processed.

Fishing concessions . The Undersecretariat of Fisheries has not designed, agreed and controlled the concessions and spends its time granting or transferring permits, quotas and authorizations and, through this “policy”, what it has done is concentrate on some few the total stock of available resources, promoting a growing dependence of small and medium-sized companies on these large groups that, as in the agricultural sector, concentrate national production and make its direct export more difficult, putting at risk the “ fishing economic unit” of each of them.

On the other hand, in Argentina the absurdity occurs that while Chinese vessels prey on our migratory resources on the high seas, Chinese companies from the Chinese State have fishing permits granted by the Enforcement Authority to fish in the Argentine EEZ and also Spain. that has recognized Argentine sovereignty in the Malvinas and, as a flag State, is obliged to control vessels that fish remotely, has vessels capturing Argentine resources in the Malvinas, whether associated or not with the British islanders and, in turn, Spanish companies that also have permits to fish in the EEZ of national jurisdiction. Of course, the necessary negotiations, aimed at ensuring the interests, rights and obligations of the parties, to adjust the policy to a new model, are not something that this Undersecretariat is capable of. to carry out. The most liberal of policies would not have concentrated activity in such a way.

Job loss and unregistered work. The current fishing model is essentially extractive, as a result of the low added value of exports and low internal consumption. Work was transferred to importing countries, also promoting unregistered work in the face of the economic and financial difficulties in which It placed the processing industries on land. In the 1970s, employment was concentrated in industrial plants.Due to the high labor conflict, it mutated into filleting manufacturing plants; Later, as a result of labor demands for solidarity (art. 30 LCT), these were transformed into pseudo cooperatives trying to avoid responsibilities when providing them with fish and, with some exceptions, they never functioned as such, making work even more precarious. This Undersecretariat, with This extractive model and business concentration further deepened the loss of national work, transferring it to third developed processing and importing countries. Due to this, we estimate a job loss of around 100%; At the same time, by removing competitiveness from land processes, unregistered work became precarious and increased. The low numbers of union members are eloquent proof and total production does not coincide with the employed workforce according to average performance. Nor do the declared landings coincide with the stocks in chambers and the tons exported. The Undersecretary of Fisheries is far from intervening in the sector's labor policy and optimizing the use of fishing resources.       

Illegal fishing (IUU) in Argentine waters and the high seas . As we have already mentioned ( César Lerena “Train the Undersecretary of Fisheries”, 10/4/2023 ) the Undersecretary of Fisheries declared that «there is no illegal fishing in the South Atlantic. and fishing on the high seas is legal” ( Urgent 24, 3/30/2023 ). A regrettable statement that is unknown that the Malvinas and its waters are located within the “Argentine Sea” and the South Atlantic and, where every year, the British, through illegal licenses, extract 250,000 tons of Argentine fishing resources worth about a billion dollars and, about 6 billion in the final marketing value. Not considering this fishing illegal is also ignoring the National Constitution and Laws 24,543; 24,922; 26,386 and 27,564 and, the consequence, is not to have in this management (and in previous ones) any strategy in this regard, nor to place any sanction on foreign vessels that fish without authorization or Argentine control in the Malvinas area and, where the States of flag, they cannot ignore Argentine sovereignty (for example, Spain) and UN Resolution 31/49 that established in 1976 that innovation could not be done in the Malvinas, an issue ratified by UN Res. 37/9 of 11/4/1982 Likewise, no action has been taken to end illegal fishing (IUU) of migratory resources originating from the EEZ on the high seas or vice versa, because this Undersecretary considers this practice legal and we - in the antipodes - maintain that is illegal (IUU), at least, for three basic reasons:

1) The flag State to which the vessel that captures remotely belongs does not control its fishing (Art.91º, 92º, 94º, 211º, 212º, 217º et seq., UNCLOS) and, if it only does so through satellite systems, these do not They are sufficient to specify whether or not the vessel is carrying out illegal fishing (IUU); whether it applies the legislation of the country of origin (discards, etc.); if the staff works as slaves and/or traffics drugs, etc.;

2) Sustainability in the integrity referred to in UNCLOS It cannot be obtained unless the relevant studies and research are carried out on the high seas (and in relation to the EEZ) to determine the “Maximum Sustainable Catch” (Art.119º, 197º, 200º, 201º, 255º, 257º and ss, UNCLOS) ; which causes not only unsustainable high seas fishing but also the EEZ. Here the precautionary principle applies, because high seas fishing, without these basic parameters, cannot be carried out without predation, much less when there is no control. of the flag State as we have indicated and,

3) Member States must keep in mind that their fishing on the high seas and the EEZ does not affect the interests of third States (Preamble and Art.59º, 87º, 116º to 118º, UNCLOS); Therefore, if there are no agreements between States, when fishing on the high seas is carried out without control, without knowing the stocks and without agreements with coastal States, fishing is illegal (IUU). This type of fishing also includes fishing by foreign vessels with bottom trawl nets on the Argentine continental shelf extended beyond 200 miles, an issue that the Undersecretariat and the CFP, rarely, have not prohibited.

Illegal fishing (IUU) in the EEZ is carried out when foreign vessels enter it; but, also, when national vessels discard captured species for whatever reasons (for example, supposed lack of commercial value or non-target species); when the species that are landed are replaced or underreported or when the authorized quotas are exceeded or other practices are carried out that in all cases cause overfishing when operations prohibited by the law in force since 1998 are carried out; along with the economic, labor and health damage caused to Argentina. There is predation on the high seas to a magnitude incompatible with the sustainability of the species for the reasons already indicated, and there is predation in the EEZ due to a lack of control. appropriateness of the Enforcement Authority. In both cases, with serious implications for the ecosystem, whose responsibility falls on the Undersecretariat of Fisheries and the CFP who, due to the aforementioned statements of the Undersecretary, seem to ignore that illegal fishing (IUU) exists in the Atlantic. Southwest. While this is happening, Latin America and the Caribbean lose about 20 billion dollars annually due to illegal fishing (IUU).

Lack of development of Aquaculture . The Undersecretariat has jurisdiction over “Fisheries and Aquaculture”; but this last activity has the lowest development in Argentina in relation to what happens in Latin America. Total world production was 177.8 million tons in 2020; of which 87.5 M came from continental and marine Aquaculture; that is, 49% of the total produced. Brazil 39%; Chile 54%; Colombia 51%; Ecuador 49% etc. and Argentina 0.31%, which allows us to estimate that the country is losing at least 2 billion dollars per year, while not expanding the supply for domestic consumption. It is evident that this Undersecretariat has not done anything about it, which would have allowed employment to triple with this activity (Chile doubles Argentine employment for this reason) and establish ventures in different provinces of the country, avoiding settlement in the Buenos Aires suburbs, where 14 million live. of people.         

National fish consumption. World per capita consumption per year reaches 20.2 kg. In Europe it is 24 kg. and in Africa 10 kg. In Argentina there is no policy and fish is inaccessible to Argentines. Fish consumption is very important because this species provides unsaturated fats and an essential protein only comparable to breast milk, which is why its consumption should be vital to improve the diet of Argentines and add value throughout the commercial chain. Consumption in the country has decreased and in 2021 , according to the Council for Structural Change, was only 4.8 kg per capita; That is, the lowest in Latin America and the Caribbean, which, on average, consumes 9.8 kg.per capita.

By Agenda Malvinas


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