"In the 21st century, States that need natural resources do not always invade territories or acquire them from those who have them; many times, they appropriate these resources from developing countries, through their illegal exploitation or through the purchase of companies that are concessionaires of exploitation or capture permits"; César Lerena, expert in the South Atlantic and Fishing.

21 de March de 2023 00:58

Of the world's total of 37 million fishing hours, its vessels occupy about 25 million hours.

Taking into account the percentages indicated by the FAO, we estimate ( César Lerena, CESPEL, Centro de Estudios para la Pesca Latinoamericana, 2022 ) that in South America and the Caribbean the flag States that remotely capture migratory resources originating from the EEZs or Vice versa, they carry out illegal fishing (IUU) on the order of 7.8 million tons annually for about 11,770 million dollars. Without taking into account the discards of incidental fishing and/or non-commercial species carried out by the coastal States in the EEZs. Sea Around Us, from the University of British Columbia (Canada) and the University of Western Australia (Paloma Fidalgo, El Plural, 6/29/2017) reported that: « Industrial fishing fleets annually throw away almost 10 million tons of fish potentially usable, but already dead, to the seas and oceans of the entire planet »; which, in addition to the immense loss of protein that the world needs, causes immeasurable organic pollution of the oceans.

According to the FAO (Percentages of Biologically sustainable and unsustainable fishery stocks by FAO Mayor Fishing Area, 2019) in Area 41 (Southwest Atlantic) 40% of the fishing stocks are biologically unsustainable and, as the aforementioned report states, those mainly responsible are flag states ; indicated, in the very eloquent message of Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development ( Brazil, 1992 ); that " management must be done in deep-sea fishing, where the problems of uncontrolled fishing arise", and where 85% of the catches are carried out by five countries: CHINA, SPAIN, TAIWAN, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA, who, of the world total of 37 million fishing hours, their vessels occupy about 25 million hours; For this reason, the greatest damage is not caused by the remaining 216 countries that fish in the world, but rather by only five flag States and, therefore, the efforts to improve the administration of resources in the EEZ of the Coastal states (for example, Argentina) will have poor results if work is not done on those countries that are responsible for captures on the high seas and, equally responsible, for the imbalance of ecosystems, since together they capture about 26 million tons of the total 84 million /year (2019); that is, 31% of the catches of “221 States that reported some type of commercial fishing activity” (FAO, “State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture”, p: 18, 2020) ;

To the fleets mentioned, we must add that in the Southwestern Atlantic, Spanish vessels lowered their flag and placed the illegal flag of the “Union Jack and Union Flag” to fish in the Malvinas area with the associated Spanish-British companies that, unusually , operate subsidized, to the detriment of the national and Spanish companies based in the country, despite the separation of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

In this state of affairs, in Argentina, of the total dollars of fishing exports declared in 2022 ( one of the lowest values of the five-year period, were 434.00 tons worth 1.8 billion U$S ) from the catch in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Argentina, 70% is in the hands of 20 business groups and 30% of the remaining 174 exporting companies. Of these 20 groups, 70% are companies with foreign capital and 30% are national companies and, Of these foreign companies, 70% are companies with Chinese and Spanish capital.

We are not against foreign investments, but we disagree with business concentration; even more so with their export of raw materials without added value that transfer Argentine manufacturing and labor to third countries (Guatemala, Peru, Thailand, Vietnam), who add value and re-export the products or, well, export to developed countries that transform Argentine raw materials for consumption or re-export. And, it amazes us (!), that while Chinese and Spanish vessels prey on our migratory resources originating from the Argentine EEZ on the high seas and Malvinas, the Secretariat Agriculture, Livestock and Fishing; The Federal Fisheries Council made up of all the provinces of the maritime coast and the Malvinas Secretariat of the Argentine Foreign Ministry do not establish any strategy with respect to the Chinese State companies that are granted or transferred fishing permits in Argentina and, likewise , to the Spanish ones, where the Spanish State admits fishing by its vessels in violation of articles 91, 92, 216, 217 and others of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); United Nations Resolution 31/49 and, where applicable, laws 24,922, 26,386 and 27,564.

Regarding Chinese vessels based or not in Argentina, there is no doubt that, with some honorable exceptions, the companies belong to the Chinese State; But, with respect to Spaniards not residing in Argentina: Where is “ the authentic relationship between the State and the vessel ” that has allowed Spanish vessels that fish illegally in the Malvinas and the migratory resources originating in the EEZ to fly the flag? ?What requirements have the Spanish Authorities demanded when granting nationality to vessels that carry out illegal fishing (IUU) in the Southwestern Atlantic? Does Spain forget that vessels under its flag are subject, on the high seas, to exclusive jurisdiction of said State?

What are Chinese and Spanish companies based in Argentina doing in this regard?

In case something was missing, some of these companies, with some irrelevant Argentine companies, reissue the so-called OPRAS ( South Atlantic Resources Protection Organization). Could anyone imagine that Chinese State companies based in Argentina - the same State that with hundreds of vessels fishing illegally (IUU) in the Southwestern Atlantic - could “protect” the fishing resources in this Atlantic or, that, Spanish companies also based in Argentina could protect our resources, when 16 Galician trawlers of the Spanish State - despite the fact that it has recognized the Argentine sovereignty of the Malvinas - associated with the British based in this archipelago, extract hundreds of thousands of tons of Argentine fishing resources every year?

In this scenario, Juan Redini, who, despite having only one vessel (?), is the president of CAPA (Chamber of Argentine Potero Shipowners) and of the aforementioned OPRAS, recognizing that "he speaks periodically with the Undersecretary of Fisheries (Carlos Liberman)" states "that the foreign fleet takes advantage of our resource and there is little diplomatic will on the part of Argentina to put a stop to it (...) which fished much more than us. (for example) in the Malvinas there are reports detailing that 110 ships captured 170 thousand tons (and) the Chinese fleet at mile 201 caught between 280 and 300 thousand tons (and) our business does not depend on us but on what others catch our resources (…) depending on what they catch, we are better off better or worse for us (…) there is no way to compete with the costs of that fleet” ( Roberto Garrone, La Nación, 6/17/21 ) and details in the Revista Industrias Pesqueras (Spain, 5/11/2022) the keys to the new fishery improvement project (FIP) in the South Atlantic with the participation of Spanish companies such as the Argentine subsidiary Argenova of Nueva Pescanova, the Profand Group and Iberconsa in which the Illex squid from the Argentine EEZ is incorporated, in which CAPA would lead the initiative and the project of “ level playing field” -equality of conditions- (?), « where every year there are a huge number of vessels, the majority of the Asian flag, in the absence of an RFMO in the waters of the southwest Atlantic » , seeking to satisfy the needs of “responsible origin” of the Illex squid destined for Europe and the United States, and to encourage – Redini states – « that those who operate outside mile 200 are interested in more responsible management of the resource that we share » and « differentiate the captures that CAPA makes in its EEZ from that coming from mile 201 » .

Finally, leaving aside the naive comment of “ encouraging responsible fishing for those who catch beyond 200 miles ” and the erroneous statements of “ equality of conditions ”, a matter of impossible compliance, within the framework of backward fishing policies Argentina and the abysmal economic-financial difference and availability of the markets of the Chinese and Spanish fleet that fishes remotely or, when referring to “ resources that we share ”, when they are mostly resources that migrate from the Argentine EEZ, and whose Distribution must, as UNCLOS states, take into account the developing coastal State and the negative effects of uncontrolled fishing.

We do not know what the President of CAPA and OPRAS is talking about with the Undersecretary of Fisheries Carlos Liberman and we hope that he does not share his strategy of putting the fishing policy of the Southwestern Atlantic in the hands of the Chinese and Spanish or that he accompanies the opinions of this Spanish Magazine : “that what happens in these seas is due to the lack of an RFMO”; whose integration would further weaken Argentina's position as a coastal State and violate the First Transitional Provision of the National Constitution, given the arrogant occupation of the United Kingdom of 1,639,900 km2 of Argentine sea and the exploitation of resources; Although, the undersecretary himself does not know how to tell us what to do regarding the RFMOs, suggesting that the Editor address the Foreign Ministry so that it can give its opinion ( see Revista Industrias Pesqueras, Spain, 3/17/2023 ).

Redini's statements to both media from Mar del Plata are very striking and we humbly suggest that you be very careful " not to be dazzled by the city lights ." On the roads that you seem to want to travel, you should take into account that the aforementioned CAPA is integrated by 68% of ships from Asian companies (mostly Chinese); 18% Spanish and 14% Argentine; Likewise, OPRAS is mainly integrated with Chinese and Spanish companies and two small Argentine companies that, in the Argentine Ranking of exports of seafood products from Argentina (2019), do not have any leading role: Pesquera Buena Vista (81st position) and Pesquera from the East (126º); while foreign companies: Iberconsa (1st position); Argenova (4th); Arbumasa (6th) and the Profand Group (29th). We know how the Chambers are managed, from inside and outside.

Under these conditions, giving these Organizations the care of our resources would be to ignore what has already been said about the Chinese and Spanish role beyond 200 miles and in the Malvinas. Respectfully, it would be like “ putting the fox to guard the henhouse ” or we will recycle the saying: “ putting the Chinese and Spaniards to guard the Argentine squid .”

It is evident that the Argentine State is thinking about changing the matrix of squid exploitation and combating illegal fishing (IUU) of this species by foreigners and, competing and/or agreeing with the fleet that fishes on the high seas and Malvinas ( outside this occupied area), the policy of permits, quotas and authorizations must be reformulated, even more so, in the specific case of the strategic species Illex squid, which yes, - as is popular in port areas - fishing permits without term or reprocessing would have a cost of the order of 3.5 million dollars and those with reprocessing 1.5 million dollars, removing the competition to obtain them from national companies, that is, which should be given free access to these permits and all the facilities and incentives to obtain this Argentine, strategic and productive species.  


A pile of stones is not a house ” Jules Henri Poincaré (1854-1912)


Dr. César Augusto Lerena

Expert in South Atlantic and Fisheries – Former Secretary of State

President of the Agustina Lerena 1 Foundation

President Center for Studies for Latin American Fisheries (CESPEL) 2

Author of “The plundering of migratory fishing resources in South America and the Caribbean” (2022).

March 20, 2023

By Agenda Malvinas


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