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Dr. Eduardo Pucci

Dr.Eduardo Pucci


OPRAS - Organización para la Protección de los Recursos Pesqueros del Atlántico Sur 

It is a Non-Profit Civil Association, established in accordance with Argentine legislation, on the initiative of a group of people directly related to the activity and fishing industry.

The magnitude of the problem that arises on the platform, beyond the EEZ, and in the waters adjacent to the coastal state, has reached such a serious level - public knowledge - that it forces private actors to actively participate in the search for adequate solutions and compatible with international law for solving the problem. A problem with biological, economic and social consequences that due to its characteristics exceeds the current capacity of public bodies to adopt measures consistent with their geopolitical powers and limitations.

Former Subsecretary of Fisheries


Opras expressed absolute rejection of initiatives to grant port access to foreign fishing vessels ...
Monday, April 26, 2021

Given the alleged possibility of giving access to Argentine ports to Chinese-flagged vessels that operate in the waters adjacent to the Exclusive Economic Zone, it is only possible to express the absolute rejection of that alternative, whatever the reason given for that alternative to be found in analysis, now, in areas of the Port of Comodoro Rivadavia.

It has recently been proposed, from the province of Chubut, to consider port access and logistical support for Chinese vessels fishing on the high seas, as an initiative aimed at improving the current irregular situation in the area.

Having anticipated, on other occasions, the refusal to open our ports to those who star in the depredation of the resources of the South Atlantic, it is appropriate to point out the following: -

1.- The Ports defined by the Navigation Law and by the United Nations Convention, in addition to other regulations, are located within the territorial sea and under the exclusive sovereignty of the coastal state, being its power to define their use and authorize or deny the entry of ships to them for reasons of …… of “public order”.

2.- With the same criteria, the Agreement on Port State Measures to Discourage and Eliminate IUU Fishing (2009) in force in international law since 2016, signed in FAO and in Congress for ratification. It establishes not only obligations but the explicit right of the port state to deny entry when it is presumed that IUU fishing has existed or exists, as occurs in our case and foreign fleets in waters adjacent to the Argentine EEZ. Place of habitual presence of foreign vessels, particularly of Chinese origin, in numerical terms, that exploit straddling and associated resources without respecting any ordering or sustainability criteria or the norms dictated by the coastal state for their rational use on scientific grounds.

3.- In fact, there is no legal reason that compels or induces to grant port support to foreign vessels that do not carry out normal commercial import and export traffic.

These vessels act with striking debauchery in the absence of applicable regimes or standards in the adjacent Area, always and permanently incurring in "Unreported Fishing and" Unregulated Fishing "concepts and definitions that make up IUU fishing - IUU Fishing, beyond of repeated occasions in which the illegality is also manifested when operating clandestinely within the EEZ.

4.-In fishing matters, the use of port and logistical support is never the consequence of innocent or neutral passage and, on the contrary, is a necessary and essential link to exploit off shore resources. Their availability is decisive to enable the operation of remote fleets and conditions their result.

5.-Having a port close to the fishing ground exponentially increases the interest of Chinese shipowners and others in the catch to be obtained and significantly reduces their already subsidized costs.

It is not sensible to expect that this will result in better storage conditions. On the contrary, the capacity for exploitation of foreigners will be increased and their irregular and evasive behavior will be maintained. As they have been showing up to now in all cases of attempted inspection or visit, by the control authorities, forced to carry out persecution, risky, costly and unsuccessful in many cases.

6.-The costs of the Chinese ships that operate in mile 201- with subsidies to diesel, tariff exemptions, and others such as composition of the crew and salaries, state contributions, etc. they allow the continuity of unfair competition, before the same importing markets, before our same clients.

Suffice it to mention that the cost of our vessels is several times higher than the Chinese operating cost.

7.- For this reason, the port or ports of the coastal state in front of the fishing area, turn out to be fundamental at the time of political and economic negotiations and constitute a vitally important element of negotiation available to the coastal state, in this case Argentina .

8.- The vessels of the Argentine squid fleet, for example, are only working 3 months out of the 7 that, in theory, the fishing season would last according to the norms and scientific foundations that govern the EEZ.

Obviously, foreign fleets do not respect the opening and closing periods of the seasons, the presence of juveniles, the escape rate, or any other conservation measure for the species. This irresponsible exploitation behavior is repeated and affects other species, both straddling and associated, and not only the squid but the entire food chain and the balance of the biological system.

9.-The Southwest Atlantic is the scene of a brutal and shameless depredation by foreign fleets, particularly Chinese, in disregard of international obligations and the interests and rights of our country over the area's resources.

Not satisfied with this and in exchange for some other ongoing commercial negotiation, they want Argentina, a victim of their irregular behavior, to facilitate their task, save their costs and increase their productivity by giving them port facilities for supplies, fuel, repairs, etc.

10.-In OPRAS the concern and objective is responsible and sustainable fishing; the conservation of resources in the long term and the protection of regional biodiversity in international waters.

In OPRAS, the management of the high seas area is sought through regional agreements or arrangements that prevent or contribute to stopping indiscriminate and predatory fishing, seeking the cooperation of the coastal states in this way to achieve an elementary order in the exploitation of resources. straddling.

Far from our proposals would be to negotiate with whoever predated and predates and it is even further from facilitating its operation by giving away the use of the port, an element of vital importance that the country has to negotiate internationally and achieve a governance regime appropriate to our interests and needs.

Port facilities allow not only to maintain and increase exploitation but also to supply Chinese industry and its exports to the same markets where Argentina competes against subsidized prices. Argentine products are displaced from the international market while the entry tariff to the market of origin is maintained.

The result is an equation whose terms clearly contradict our general, productive and institutional objectives.

Therefore, it is necessary to give up, simply and simply, any alternative in the aforementioned sense and, taking into account the Argentine fishing interests and their natural national competence, also discourage other areas that may be giving an opinion, that they continue with this issue outside of a comprehensive and organic treatment of a regional and multilateral nature.

In my opinion, a subregional governance and planning agreement for conservation and sustainable exploitation should precede and only afterwards analyze access to ports.

It is possible to discuss this issue with greater conceptual breadth without ignoring that ports are an important and essential element of negotiation and that, for that reason, it is essential to first target and oblige the regulatory order of the area and then analyze the issue of access modality to ports and not the other way around.

They have been stealing resources on the high seas for many years. It is a fact. The greatest folly is to facilitate even more the irregular exploitation that they carry out with irreverent indifference.

Dr. Eduardo Pucci

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