"Those who deal with environmental issues, so important for the care of the planet, should be highly trained in the matter they advise, to help internalize in food producers the need to harmonize between the generation of proteins and the care of " “the Common House”: the human being and his environment", César Lerena

3 de July de 2023 12:16

"Unsustainable fishing is as reprehensible as impeding sustainable capture" César Lerena.

In the world and, by the way, in Argentina, a discussion has taken place that is incongruous: that of producing sustainably versus reserving unproduced marine spaces. These days we have seen a publication in Clarín with the catastrophe title “ Death of the sea ” an environmental activist and a technician, promote the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPA), as a means to provide sustainability to the marine environment and its species, instead of contributing to making fishing sustainable. Unsustainable fishing is so reprehensible. how to prevent sustainable capture.

Those who deal with environmental issues, so important for the care of the planet, should be highly trained in the matter they advise, to help internalize in food producers the need to harmonize between the generation of proteins and the care of “ the Common House ”: the human being and his environment. But this does not seem to result from this note, from the very moment in which one of the opinion members, the activist Lucia Castro, states, smugly: “ no one knows that a third of the territory national is water » (sic); when Argentina's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) only has 3,146,345 km2 and its portion on the American continent reaches 2,791,810 km2. The note is riddled with errors and contradictions.

It would delay both the businessman who exploits resources without sustainability, and the environmental fundamentalists who lose sight of the fact that human beings are the administrators of nature and must live sustainably from it. A large part of those of us who are linked to this productive activity , generator of towns, industries and intensive labor in the southeast of Buenos Aires and the Patagonian coastal area of Argentina, we are very interested in providing sustainability and sustainability to the fishing activity, since otherwise the availability could not be guaranteed. of the resource in perpetuity. Without production there is no sustainability and without it there is no future production.  

To support this, we will indicate some lines of the commented text that we made from the Encyclical Laudato Si' “ The Care of the Common Home ” ( César Lerena “Argentina.La Casa Común”, 512 page.2021 ) where together with Pope Francis, Hundreds of scientists, philosophers, theologians and environmental and social organizations treat nature not as an isolated fact, but as a part, where humanity is considered the administrator and main responsible for ensuring ecology, trophic ecology and the environment. .

The message of the Encyclical is sufficiently clear, the Common Home in the broadest sense is the good to be protected, and the human being is its responsible caretaker , meaning who protects the environment for future generations per secula seculorum. Francisco puts things in the right place: "Although, it is not possible to accept a predatory anthropocentrism nor a biocentrism that would imply incorporating a new imbalance that not only will not solve the problems, but will add others." Human beings are responsible for sustainably managing the planet and, although they are part of it, “the whole” would be meaningless if the whole of nature were not destined to sustainably satisfy their needs.

From science, “an ecosystem is made up of interdependent living beings that share the same habitat and whose vital processes are linked to each other . This involves all biotic elements: human beings, animals and plants that coexist with abiotic factors ( temperature, light, humidity, etc.) of the environment, in such a way that the ecosystem is a unit composed of interdependent organisms of trophic or food chains that depend on each other for their survival, therefore, any imbalance threatens the ecosystem in as a whole" ( Tansley, A.G., 1939) and "environmental protection must become an integral part of the development process and not be considered in isolation" ( Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 6/14/1992). In this sense, the Pope is very precise regarding the fundamental role of the human being in relation to the Care of the Common Home , understanding that " human beings cannot be required to make a commitment to the world if they do not recognize and value at the same time their peculiar capacities of knowledge, will, freedom and responsibility.

Faced with this, it seems an empirical and paternalistic attitude, that those who do not have the responsibility of supporting the productive structures of the country and the development of the most neglected regions and are unaware of these activities, are the ones who propose actions for supposed negative effects, which they themselves indicate, not being sufficiently proven. In Argentina, it is the State, the businessmen, workers and experts - in that vision of the Pope - who must make the activity sustainable and “sustainable” and, the opinion members in the Clarín note, a disservice they do to the cause of protecting environments and species , when, on the one hand, they wrongly establish the reasons why the Argentine sea would be in danger and, on the other, they omit the most important reasons for marine and fishing predation in the region. In reality, with a tremendous approach, the objective of the opinionated environmentalists in this environment does not seem to have any other objective than to establish Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in the Argentine sea, weakening Argentina's protein generation capacity, while in parallel the United Kingdom occupies and exploits without any control 1,639,900 km2 of the Argentine sea, at the same time proposing the creation of MPAs around all the overseas colonies that are part of the so-called Community of Nations.  

Let us remember that the fishing resource belongs to the State. It grants exploitation concession to companies that must comply with the legal regulations (Fisheries Law 24,922; CFP resolutions and provincial laws) which, in its articles, clearly establish that the Fishing Authority Application is the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, who presides over the Federal Fisheries Council which, like in almost no other productive activity, has among its members an environmental expert representing the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and, the legislation. that the country has, in addition to explaining the species, the state of development, the forms of capture, areas, periods and times, has in the Institute of Fisheries Research and Development (INIDEP) the most important scientists and experts in South America, who annually They determine, based on research on the species and the ecosystem, the Maximum Sustainable Catch, depending on the species in question; that is, the maximum that can be captured of each species per year to ensure its reproduction, development and offspring. It seems that announcing a supposed “death at sea”, predicting an environmental catastrophe with the expression of mere generalities and without information, is unserious and discredits the very useful work of environmental care.  

Argentina has about 520 fishing vessels of different sizes that land about 800 thousand tons of fish, crustaceans and mollusks per year. A number similar to that of Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, Spanish and British vessels, etc. that fish a million tons annually illegally (IUU) on the high seas and Malvinas; to which we would have to add another 300 thousand tons for illegal discarding if the information available in the EEZ (INIDEP, AGN, FAO) were comparable, which, on par with the very serious depredation it implies; Being a single ecosystem, it causes unpredictable damage to the migratory resources originating from the EEZ, but also to the stock available in it. Issue, which is totally out of control on the part of Argentina (at least without agreements) and, incidentally, But, very importantly, when a few developed powers take over the resources of the coastal States, the food for survival is taken away from an Argentina with 40% poor and they prevent the normal intellectual development of future generations.We wonder where the environmentalists are when these nations extract resources from South America and the Caribbean worth 12,000 million dollars annually. Certainly, a predatory fact, much more serious than all the captures, whatever form they are carried out in the EEZ; where the Enforcement Authority has greater control tools, both from satellite systems or direct actions carried out during extractions and upon disembarkation; although it should not be tolerated either.

We can agree that the controls in the EEZ are insufficient and deficient; and we could give a long list of reasons; but, on the high seas or in the Malvinas there is no type of in-person control . Here we would include the presence of nets, boxes and other elements in the sea and its beaches, whose responsibility could be resolved with the identification of all the elements used in the sea. However, to affirm, as the activist Castro does, that: "it is part of the work on the high seas to throw into the water what is of no use and plastic boxes are found on the beaches of Chubut or nets that appear floating that kill whales" It seems like a coffee chat and not a technical note. Recklessly stating that "discarding is part of the job"; in addition to not distinguishing between EEZ and the high seas and encompassing everything under the term “discard” which, in fishing, is used to refer to the illegal return of non-commercial species or those resulting from bycatch and not to describe those waste. plastics (boxes, nets, etc.) that can be voluntarily or accidentally thrown into the sea, is at least ignoring the activity and the environment. Both practices are prohibited by law, but they are not the same. As it is not the same responsibility , fishing in the EEZ that, on the high seas, where Argentina has no jurisdiction, although it has rights regarding migratory resources originating from the EEZ in that maritime space.

The article refers to “Trawl Nets” and does not indicate whether those in question are “Bottom Trawl Nets”, which is an important inaccuracy, because this last classification, to which environmentalists do not refer, is related to the species that are captured and their eventual action on the seabed.

For her part, the Coordinator Diana Friedrich of the Blue Patagonia Project of the Douglas Rewilding Foundation (1943-2015) and Kristine Tompkins, indicated in the note that Argentina committed in 2010 to protect 10% of the sea and in 2022 30 %; as if he had failed to comply; without considering, that currently Argentina of the 6,247,842km2 that make up the continental and insular EEZ and the southern part of the South Atlantic that borders Antarctica, has 51.26% prohibited or restricted capture as a product of the British occupation of the Malvinas; its unilateral ecological reserve of 1.07 million km2 around Georgia and South Sandwich; the 100,000 km2 of the Namuncurá-Banco Burdwood I-II and, Yaganes and, product of the conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CAMLR). That is to say, it has far exceeded any reasonable conservation guideline, although Castro erroneously refers to the fact that Argentina has only 8% of the sea protected; ignoring the aforementioned spaces and those that INIDEP itself has a permanent or temporary ban. Highlight the Panamanian Shirley Binder, whom Castro describes as one of those responsible for the “great Panamanian feat” in the protection of more than half of its EEZ (54.33%); It is a much smaller fact than what happens in Argentina, which, as we said, has many more km2 prohibited from national capture. The Panamanian EEZ reaches 10% of the total Argentine EEZ. Although, to evaluate with scientific rigor the MPAs/Vedas, we should refer to the biological load they protect and not to a mere proportionality of territory, which could lack any biological effect. Friedrich herself confirms this: « The only two protected areas we have are in an area where almost no one fished » (sic); Although, there are those who understand that these spaces are reservoirs of species that migrate to the Malvinas and are captured with a British license. At this point, one should ask ourselves why an MPA was established “ where almost no one fished .” Instead of enacting laws, it would have been enough a Resolution of the Federal Fisheries Council, with the endorsement of INDEP, establishing the closures that were necessary.

Friedrich also states that " the fishing sector insists that permanent closed areas are like MPAs" , which he rejects: " closed areas are not MPAs" and, for his part, Castro indicates: " it is not known nor has tested a method that supplants them. "Respectfully, these environmentalists show a certain difficulty in interpreting texts, since Law 27,037 establishes in its articles 2 and 4 that "AMPs are considered natural spaces established for the protection of ecosystems, communities or biological elements (...) that due to their rarity, fragility, importance deserve special protection for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations...", nothing different from a Ban, which is an administrative act established by the Enforcement Authority with INIDEP opinion, in which it is prohibited to capture or extract a hydrobiological resource in an area determined by a space of time (temporary or permanent). There are several types of closed season: biological : prohibits capture/extraction in order to protect the reproduction and recruitment processes of a hydrobiological species. Recruitment is understood as the incorporation of juvenile individuals into the stock; extractive : prohibits capture/extracting in a specific area for conservation reasons; extraordinary : prohibits capturing/extracting when oceanographic phenomena negatively affect a fishery. We understand that while the AMP is a photograph taken over an area, at a certain time; The ban allows the Enforcement Authority to carry out the corresponding corrective actions not only on the spaces but, fundamentally, on the behavior of the species in the prohibited area.

To complete surprise, the cited technique indicates: " there is no environmental impact study " and, notes the activist Castro: " the federal fishing law does not prohibit trawling...the impact on the Argentine seabed is little studied ." ; but, the next line contradicts itself: the effects are " equivalent to deforested land. " It is then worth asking: if there are no environmental impact studies or they are insufficient, with what scientific rigor do they determine that the trawl net causes an equivalent effect? to deforestation? And at this point, Castro ends by saying: " trawling is 100% legal, but discarding is prohibited. " And trawling does not necessarily imply discarding. These environmentalists should read, among others, the paragraphs n) and ñ) of article 21 of Law 24,922; because landing in percentages higher than those allowed may imply a penalty. A story of the “ good pipe ” that the Enforcement Authority has not been able to resolve: if species of small size or larger volume are landed, it is penalized and if it is discarded in the sea is penalized.

In case something was missing, the activist Castro concludes: " AMPs are needed on these productive fronts ," a name that is more similar to that of a political space, but that would not seek sustainable production, but rather attack it. Absolutely, different from the perspective evolved from the Pope and the more than five hundred technicians who prepared the Encyclical “ The Care of the Common Home ”; an Encyclical that, modestly, I consider an extraordinary socio-environmental compendium, where human beings are designated as universal administrators for the sustainable use of nature. Not maintaining a proper balance, not having rigorous scientific information and preventing fishing in the “ productive fronts” would be to cause even more serious damage than that which is intended to be protected.  

Don't let the tree prevent you from seeing the forest.


Dr.César Augusto Lerena

Expert in South Atlantic and Fisheries – Former Secretary of State

President Center for Studies for Latin American Fisheries (CESPEL) 1

President of the Agustina Lerena 2 Foundation

Author of “National Fishing Plan” (2023).

By Agenda Malvinas


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