A proposal for change to the Government's Fisheries Reform

The South Atlantic and Fisheries expert, César Lerena; made public a bill that replaces the fisheries reform of the Milei Omnibus law.

10 de January de 2024 12:16

"The Federal Fisheries Law requires an even broader reform.

We have already referred to the project to reform Law 24,922 on several occasions, so it would be unnecessary to do so again. We refer to our articles ( César Lerena, cesarlerena.com.ar “The opening of the Argentine sea to foreign ships. Break of the national company, evasion and loss of jobs" 12/28/23; "the Chinese business of foreignizing the Argentine sea", 12/30/23; "the government's fishing reform will cause an industrial and regional catastrophe", 6/ 1/2024 ), where we show the irreversible damages that this reform would cause.

We believe that Law 24,922 requires a comprehensive reform and, we have already announced, that we have a project in this regard. The reform should occur during 2024, coinciding with the redistribution of quotas; but, in the meantime, we allow ourselves to make a counter-reform to the government's proposal.

The national government needs resources, rationalize the structure and eliminate the costs of the State to serve the fishing sector, therefore, in my opinion, THE REFORM that we propose to Chapter XVIII Section III of the reform of law 24,922 proposed by the government, could meet these objectives. To achieve this, we suggest the following reform of the articles of the Fisheries Law reform and, in turn, we promote some substantive changes; that are needed to carry out sustainable national activity together with the rationalization of State structures; although of course, there are substantial modifications, where the different actors contribute their own. Among these changes we consider necessary:

1) Make a modification to the articles, except 252nd.

2) Limit the functions of the Federal Fisheries Council (CFP) to advising with a prior mandatory opinion, on the resolutions that could be taken by the Enforcement Authority, which should be prioritized in a Secretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture, dependent on the Ministry of Economy.

3) Change the composition of the CFP with the entry of business, union, defense, security, etc. representatives and release other members from this body.

4) Modify the destination of the funds of the National Fisheries Fund (FONAPE) - funds that originate from the payment of business rights for their catches in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the high seas and, fines, etc. to finance the INIDEP's research and technology tasks - which in practice they have been solving; the tasks of patrolling and maritime control of fishing activity and, supporting the tasks of the Enforcement Authority; from the CFP and transfer funds to the Federal Investment Council, instead of the Provinces; since in the case of resources obtained in the EEZ, under the domain and jurisdiction of the National State, they are resources that should be accessible to all provinces and not only those on the maritime coast; particularly when aquaculture should be promoted.

5) Prepare an annual Budget prepared by the Enforcement Authority with the necessary participation of the business sector, who, ultimately, will be the one who finances the administration, research and control, which in practice it has been solving, progressively reducing contributions. of the National Treasury to “zero”.

6) Eliminate international tenders and establish a fee for obtaining permits for national fishing vessels.

7) Admit the hiring of bareboat vessels that are not older than ten years, with exclusive destination for fishing surplus species, in accordance with the provisions of UNCLOS.

8) Respect and maintain the validity of the fishing permits, quotas and authorizations already granted through Law No. 24,922 until their expiration, which, in the case of quotas, must be renegotiated in 2024.

Based on the above, we suggest the following reform:

DRAFT MODIFICATION OF ART.242º TO 253º OF THE LAW OF BASES AND STARTING POINTS FOR THE FREEDOM OF ARGENTINES.Fishing regime (Law 24922)

ARTICLE 242.- Article 7 of Law No. 24,922 is replaced by the following:

ARTICLE 7. The functions of the application authority will be:

a) The Secretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture, dependent on the Ministry of Economy of the Nation, will be the Application Authority who will assist the PEN in the application of the National Fisheries Policy and, lead and execute it, regulating exploitation, inspection and research;

b) Conduct and execute the objectives and requirements related to scientific and technical investigations of fishing resources;

c) Monitor the Maximum Allowable Catches by species, by fishing zones and by type of fleet established annually by the National Institute of Fisheries Research and Development (INIDEP);

d) Issue fishing permits, quotas and authorizations based on the requirements established by law;

e) Establish restrictions on fishing areas or seasons with prior opinion from INIDEP and calculate the available surpluses, being able to establish temporary permits for foreign vessels to exploit them, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

f) Establish the requirements and conditions that vessels and fishing companies must meet to develop fishing activity;

g) Establish capture methods and techniques, as well as prohibited fishing equipment and gear, with the advice of INIDEP and the Federal Fisheries Council;

h) Apply sanctions, in accordance with the infraction regime, and create a record of violators of the provisions of this law.

i) Prepare and/or develop statistical systems for fishing activity;

j) Intervene in international bilateral or multilateral negotiations related to fishing activity in accordance with the national fishing policy;

k) Organize the operation of the Fishing Registry created by this law;

l) Receive the fee and extraction rights that may be established;

m) Intervene in the granting of benefits from the sectoral promotion granted or to be granted to the fishing sector;

n) Intervene in investment projects that have or require specific financing from international financial organizations and/or that have been granted or will be granted to Argentina;

o) Issue authorizations for experimental fishing, with prior opinion from INIDEP;

p) Establish and implement the necessary and sufficient control systems, according to INIDEP advice, in order to reliably determine the catches in the Exclusive Economic Zone and in coordination with the provinces of the maritime coast in the territorial sea and, landed in authorized Argentine ports and compliance and veracity of the arrest affidavits;

q) Carry out national promotional campaigns for the consumption of living resources from the sea and missions abroad to promote the commercialization of products from the national fishing industry;

r) Exercise all the powers and attributions conferred by this Law to the Enforcement Authority.

Basis : By Article 6 of Law 24,922 in 1998, the Fisheries Secretariat was created unsuccessfully; since this article was vetoed by Decree 9/98 of the National Executive Branch, by which, currently the Enforcement Authority is the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (today the Secretariat of Bioeconomy) which usually delegates functions to the Undersecretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture, which already shows the lack of attention that the person responsible for the sector has paid to the activity.

We understand that, due to the complexity and particularity of fishing and aquaculture, these activities are absolutely unrelated to Agriculture and Livestock and, it would be more reasonable - in this instance of reduction of Ministries - for the Secretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture to depend on the Ministry. of Economy.

The fishing resource is the domain of the National State between 12 and 200 miles and provincial between the baseline and 12 nautical miles and is not a privately owned asset. The issues related to the exploitation of resources are carried out in a marine, industrial and export sphere; The extent of the marine territory must be controlled both from the point of view of fishing exploitation, the marine environment, and security and defense. The relationship of this activity with river, port, naval industrial, research, technological and environmental and international development, etc. merit the prioritization of the Application Authority.

Culturally, in Argentina, agricultural activity has historically been promoted and, it is said, that Argentines live with their backs to the sea. In this framework of difficulties in understanding the activity, of ignorance of its economic potential, the Argentine fishing industry is one of the few that has had sustained growth in recent decades, even exceeding the volumes and amounts of red meat exports, which have characterized us in the last century at an international level. All this, despite an unfavorable macroeconomic framework of policies extractivists in force to this day and the inability of the State to manage a resource whose exploitation depends on third parties; but, also, in the face of the appropriation by foreign vessels of migratory resources originating from the EEZ on the high seas and the consequent depredation produced by illegal fishing; In addition, the interrelation of species in the ecosystem, climatological phenomena and the problems related to the conservation of products, their transformation, international markets, export and internal demand.

Fishing is strongly linked to the type of exploitation, causing immediate activity in the community and the region, expanding the populations where it takes place and generating industrial activities. The departure of the boat to fish causes an immediate occupation on land to process the raw materials to be unloaded; Although, the model of recent years of pre-processing on board and immediate transshipment for export reduces the employment of labor for the benefit of importing and processing countries. This is the same model used by remote fishing with State vessels. of flags, which are the main responsible for illegal fishing and, by the way, the model promoted by importers, who add value to raw materials at destination, while unemployment and poverty in Argentina do not match this model. commodity exporter.

Fishing is of growing importance for marine States and will acquire greater significance in the future based on growing advances in aquaculture and mariculture. Chile, for example, exported this type of production - and despite the pandemic in 2020 - about 800 thousand tons of salmon and trout worth 4,389 million dollars (in 2019 it had been worth 5,127 million), that is, more than double the total of Argentine marine exports. The reality is that Argentina is wasting the potential of its vast territory and, while the world produces 49% of the total production in aquaculture, Argentina does not reach 1%.

Fishing is very important for the economies of the provincial states, given the industrial establishment and the consequent occupation of labor and the population settlement that it causes. And it will be even more important, given the growing demand for proteins of high biological value. and economical like those provided by fishing products; with the incorporation of modern technologies to highlight the conditions of the raw material and present it appropriately, necessarily related to promotion and global competition, which allows Argentina to sell high quality fishing raw materials to more than 50 countries, entering the more sophisticated and demanding markets such as the United States, the European Union, Japan, etc. However, discarding, substitution of species, predation, exports of low added value, production with unregistered labor, etc

Fishing is the intensive use of a renewable natural resource, through its extraction, industrialization and trade. It constitutes a fundamental tool for national defense and security (as understood by the United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Russia and other Asian countries) through the occupation of Argentine marine spaces and the regional development of Patagonia.

Article 7 of current Law 24,922 establishes the functions of the Enforcement Authority; However, from reading its subsections it is observed that these do not accompany the regulations of articles 4 and 5 regarding those that are in tune with the administration, exploration, exploitation, research, conservation and supervision of fishing resources in the EEZ. and, on the migratory resources that, originating in the EEZ, migrate from it to the high seas.

On the other hand, the article also omits the need for an opinion from INIDEP when establishing the Maximum Sustainable Catches, determining surpluses and closed areas or seasons; to whom it refers only when establishing the capture methods and techniques, the equipment and fishing gear of prohibited use. It also does not mention the safety conditions for the crew and the useful life of the vessels. In most cases , in the current law, the roles of the Federal Fisheries Council (CFP) and the Enforcement Authority are confused, weakening the powers of the latter, which is why the functions of executing the policy established by the National Executive Branch are reassigned to the Enforcement Authority and to rule in advance to the Federal Fisheries Council.

It ends with the delegation of the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (today the Secretariat of Bioecology) to the Undersecretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Likewise, this article of current law 24,922 ignores issues related to the marine environment, which are central to ensuring the sustainability of fishing resources. There is no sustainability possible in a contaminated marine environment. We understand this unification of productive and environmental competence in the Fisheries Enforcement Authority, with prior opinion from INIDEP.

ARTICLE 243.- Article 8 of Law No. 24,922 is replaced by the following:

ARTICLE 8 The Federal Fisheries Council is created, which will be made up of:

a) The Secretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture;

b) The director of the National Institute of Research, Technology, Environment and Fisheries Development;

c) A representative of the Federal Investment Council representing all the provinces;

d) A representative of the Provinces of the maritime coast, who will rotate annually;

e) A representative of the Ministry of Defense;

f) A representative of the Ministry of Security;

g) A representative of the fishing business sector, alternately on an annual industrial and shipowner basis;

h) A representative of the fishing union sector, alternately on an annual industrial and extractive basis;

i) A representative of the Argentine Aquaculture Association or Association with greater representation;

j) A representative of the National University with a career in fisheries;

k) The Executive Director of the Federal Fisheries Council.

The presidency of the Council will be exercised by the Secretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture and in his absence by the Executive Director of the Federal Fisheries Council.

All members will be appointed to the Council by Resolution of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture and will have a single vote, except for the president who will have a double vote in the event of a tie. The functions, except those of the Executive Director who coordinates the activities of the Federal Council Pesquero, will be fulfilled on an ad-honorem basis or paid for by the organizations that the members represent, including travel expenses. The opinions will be issued by a qualified majority.

The Enforcement Authority will call for the integration of the Federal Fisheries Council within a maximum period of sixty (60) days from the promulgation of this law.

Fundamentals : The current integration of the Federal Fisheries Council is not sufficiently representative and actors who are fundamental in the design of a participatory fisheries policy are omitted. The new composition of the Federal Fisheries Council is carried out based on the hierarchy of the Application Authority; the expansion and precision of its functions and greater participation in the decisions of all public and private actors linked to the activity; in particular of the business community that finances the State in services linked to fishing and, taking into account that all of the Provinces of the Nation have rights over the fishing resources in the ZEE, a representative from these and one from the Provinces is incorporated. of the maritime coastline that have jurisdiction up to 12 nautical miles, according to current legislation.

ARTICLE 244.- Article 9 of Law No. 24,922 is replaced by the following:

ARTICLE 9 - It will be the function of the Federal Fisheries Council: a) To advise the Enforcement Authority in the execution of national fisheries policies and, related to fisheries research; b) Establish the annual budget with the necessary participation of the business sector, which allows establishing the fee and capture rights based on the administration, research and control requirements of the activity; c) Depending on the Maximum Sustainable Catch established by species and fishing area by INIDEP and the concessionaire's compliance with the fishing program approved by the Enforcement Authority, issue an opinion to the Enforcement Authority on the granting by the Power National Executive of access permits, Quotas and/or Authorizations for annual capture by vessel, by species, by fishing area and by type of fleet and, in accordance with the Maximum Sustainable Catch established by INIDEP; d) Advise the Enforcement Authority on international negotiations; e) Issue an opinion for the consideration of the Enforcement Authority on capture and/or extraction rights and other fishing fees and on the allocation of funds from the National Fisheries Fund (FO.NA.PE.); f) Provide an opinion to the Enforcement Authority on the exemption of taxes, duties or fees to national vessels that fish on the high seas or with fishing agreements in this area with Argentina; g) Provide an opinion to the Enforcement Authority regarding the exercise of artisanal fishing and the establishment of fishing quota reserves for the different species to be assigned to this sector; h) Issue an opinion to the Enforcement Authority on any other issue that is put to the consideration of the Federal Fisheries Council that requires a qualified majority in the voting of its members; i) Approve the operating regulations of the Council that the Enforcement Authority submits for its consideration, which must be approved with the affirmative vote of two-thirds of all its members.

Fundamentals : The current law shows inconsistencies between the Enforcement Authority and the Federal Fisheries Council chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (today Bioeconomy), although in recent decades it has delegated functions to the Undersecretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture and, In practice, this official is a mere executor of the policies established by a Council that depends on a secretary, although he does not perform his function and, in addition, this Council is assigned political functions that are not granted to the secretary and undersecretary. All of this undermines his functions, despite the fact that he is the one who should actually act in accordance with the instructions of the National Executive Branch, which is the one who sets the policies.

For example, article 7 of Law 24,922 indicates in subsection a) that the Enforcement Authority "conducts and executes the national fisheries policy, regulating exploitation, inspection and research" and, this is logical, because it is a mere secretary of the President of the Nation, who by article 99 of the National Constitution is, among other powers, "the political person responsible for the general administration of the country and who issues the instructions and regulations that are necessary for the execution of the laws of the nation…"; Despite this, in art.9 of Law 24,922 indicates that the functions of the CFP are: «a) Establish the national fishing policy; b) Establish the fisheries research policy”, etc.

By Agenda Malvinas

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