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The lies of the Chinese Liu, owner of Tai An and the lapidary INIDEP report

The owner of the vessel tried to clean up his image in an interview in Clarín and made clear his strategy of presenting the case as bycatch.

27 de March de 2024 10:32

In total, INIDEP counted 175 tons of toothfish in the Tai An warehouses.

Unloading the Tai An vessel took until 6 a.m. on March 23. According to observers, the percentage of juveniles would be higher than the 55% initially estimated . They have not yet officially confirmed it, but they have found boxes with specimens that were labeled with commercial size when they were juveniles, which constitutes a customs violation. In total, INIDEP counted 175 tons of toothfish and revealed a fact that completely dismantles the defense strategy proposed by businessman Liu Zhijiang: trawl nets were used to carry out targeted fishing within the protection area for juveniles of this species.

Liu Zhijiang went out to try to clean up his image and found refuge in the Clarín newspaper, where a journalist without complete knowledge of the subject received ridiculous responses. It was not the first time that he was given the opportunity to give his version: REVISTA PUERTO offered it to him from the beginning, but he did not accept. In the morning newspaper he tries to show himself as a poor man who asks to be heard: “Liu wants to respond to everything. He is grateful to be able to do so. He needs to make his defense” says the chronicler.

"There is no disaster," he points out. "They carried out the inspection, filmed it and leaked that photo of the juveniles to harm me. What was caught was not juveniles and those tons are the product of something incidental. It came out when we picked up the net because it was there. We cannot know what is under the water when we cast the net, the sonar does not tell us what you are going to take out,” Zhijiang told journalist Gonzalo Sánchez.

Without the need to clarify that the photographs correspond to the unloading of the Tai An as the videos of the scene certify, it should be noted in this case that the excessive presence of juveniles was recorded by the observers on board and confirmed by the INIDEP through a report prepared by Patricia Martínez and Otto Wöhler , heads of the Southern Species Program.

“By grouping the catches from all the fishing hauls carried out in the Juvenile Toothfish Protection Area (APJMN), it was observed that 55% of the toothfish specimens captured were juveniles, less than 82 centimeters in total length.” , the report strongly states.

"Liu wants to explain more. He clarifies that from his last incursion he returned to port with 3,200 tons: 140 were toothfish. In other words, it was within the allowed by catch percentage, which is five percent. The error percentage is normal, it almost screams it,” says the journalist in another passage. It should be clarified that the bycatch limit for this species is 1.5% of the total catch or 5 tons, whichever is less.With 5% bycatch, poor Liu is in flagrant violation of current regulations.

"I'll explain to you: I went to look for Polish hake, there were toothfish in the area. I don't know why: maybe they get married, have parties, I don't know what the toothfish were doing there. I threw the net in. We took out 70 tons," Liu tells him and when asked by the journalist if he should not leave the place, he responds: “There was an inspector and she didn't tell me anything.”

This passage from the interview is worth noting for several reasons. First, there is something called responsible fishing, which is essential to guarantee the sustainability of resources and the responsibility lies with the owner of the vessel and the captain.

As for the ridiculousness that he says about the coexistence of the two species, it is directly a joke. The Tai An vessel not only made six hauls in the juvenile protection area, but it did so with trawl nets that are strictly prohibited in that space. Although it was already known, the INIDEP report certifies it.

“The analysis of the vessel's route describes a particular operation, it entered and left the Patagonian Toothfish Juvenile Protection Area repeatedly on several occasions with an interval of 4/5 days. The Tai An entered the closed season on 4 days. , 10, 15, 21 and 26 February and 2 and 7 March. On these occasions he made hauls from practically identical positions in grid 5462 and caught volumes of toothfish that were clearly higher than the 5 tons allowed as incidental catch , " says the report.

This report continues to provide revealing data that debunks Zhijiang 's bycatch strategy: "The catches within the protection area were made using bottom trawl nets" and clarify that both this type of gear and longlining are prohibited within of the protection area with depths less than 800 meters. The quadrant in which he fished on six occasions has a depth of 450 meters.

“The obligation to respect the depth and type of net used in the protection area for juveniles is based not only on minimizing the presence of immature individuals in the catch, but also on avoiding incidental fishing of toothfish when the effort It is directed towards other species, as in the case of the Polish. If a pelagic or semi-pelagic type net had been used, with the objective of capturing hoki or Polish, probably the capture of toothfish would have been significantly lower, since this "species is generally found much closer to the bottom than the others ," they indicate in more detail.

To finish with this passage we will say that Zhijiang points to the fisheries inspector as responsible, who has police power and can make the situation known to the fishing authorities, seal the illegal fishing gear and order the return to port. But it is worth asking If the conditions were met for the officer to do so, or she could only take a record for later use of the information in the summary. Let us remember that not even the Undersecretary of Fisheries dared to return the ship to port, when he had it in his hands. all the evidence. Cutting the thread at its thinnest is always very convenient.

  Zhijiang and his lawyer María Eugenia Chiarvetto defend themselves by saying that they are being attacked by the complaining companies, which they consider to be competition despite not having a quota of toothfish that places them in that category . In that sense, they say that they had a quota, but They took it out, which is not correct given that it was the boat that had quota, but when it was purchased by its former owner he did not include the quota in the transaction.

“They are persecuting me. I am in all the media, they want to screw me. I want to work,” says Zhijian and adds his lawyer: “Talking about illegal fishing is an act of discrimination” and he feels sorry for his client: Liu works fifteen hours per day, he doesn't deserve to be hurt like that."

The INIDEP report states that by February 10, the boat was already in violation for excessive bycatch : “However, despite this, it continued to operate in the area and repeatedly entered the APJMN, and always made fishing hauls in the same location, where the catches of toothfish were abundant and higher than the limit allowed for the vessel.This form of operation of the vessel finally produced, until its removal from the area mediated by the enforcement authority, a capture of around 175 tons of the species.”

Once the inspection is completed, the summary stage begins.

By Agenda Malvinas

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