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Photo: courtesy Revista Puerto

Some notes on the shrimp season

Click on the flag for more information about Argentina ARGENTINA
Thursday, September 23, 2021, 07:10 (GMT + 9)

The first thing that occurs to me to say is thank nature for its exuberance and to emphasize that we do not always honor that privilege. From the biological and political measures of access to the resource, there would be no major objections to make except for the excess of fleet

But the panorama becomes different, very different, if we analyze what we have done as a fishing industry with the use of the shrimp resource to which, with the passing of the years, we are converting it from a premium product to a simple commodity with a much lower value than that he knew how to have.

It is true and positive that thousands of plant workers joined the industry in the middle, as true as that the fish does not always arrive in optimal conditions to be handled on land. And it is at that point where the limitations of an enforcement authority that is impotent and complicit at the time of channeling an arms sector that operates with notable disregard for the resource emerge evident.

The problem is centered in part of the fresh fleet that operates in national waters; Nobody in their right mind could object to the quality parameters with which freezer tangoneros operate in winter, nor the yellow fleet and artisanal fresqueros during summer. What's more, even among high-altitude fresqueros the situation is disastrous on all boats: there is a noticeable difference in quality between the seafood brought by the boats that belong to companies with an integrated plant compared to those boats that sell their catch to the highest bidder.

Photo: courtesy Revista Puerto

The “boxes” that replaced the classic 40-kilo boxes have not made any positive contribution to the quality of the product and only achieved the goal sought by the shipowners of multiplying the load capacity in their warehouses. It is enough to witness a few downloads to realize that the boxes usually arrive overflowing with prawns, without ice, and crushed one another in the stowage of the drawers. They are almost always around 20 kilos and ice is conspicuous by its absence. To see this, you just have to want to see it.

Of this fleet, whose main stimulus is volume and not quality, there is plenty of evidence that they fish many times at forbidden hours and make sets of much more than one hour. In the twilight of the season, sets of up to two and a half hours were made, to obtain meager catches of 50 boxes, at most, and discarding that figure several times between smaller shrimp and accompanying fauna. Only those who have a direct interest in lying can deny this.

On the other hand, it would be interesting for the authorities to carefully evaluate and with quality as a desirable objective, the operation of large cooling vessels with more than 3,000 boxes. The catches of the first sets of the tide almost always arrive in very bad bromatological conditions: crushed, broken, melanotic, with a bad smell and their destination is always for reprocessing as "broken or bad tail" and, what is more serious still, they end up dumped in the garbage dumps in the area. The actions of the ship Graciela, of the Moscuzza company, is a clear example of the above. It is enough to ask for the receipts at the waste treatment sites to find out. Although it is not the only case and, only in the Arcante property, an average of two trucks of whole prawns a day has been thrown into the garbage. A crime from all sides (see Fishing wild and natural shrimp to turn it into compost).

It is also necessary to be more strict in terms of the duration of the tide and it occurs to me that many times and in the face of incontestable evidence, the seventy-two hours from the first set to the arrival at port is a measure that, although it goes in the correct direction is not always enough if we consider that many times the downloads are not immediate. The infrastructure and services of the ports of Chubut are not up to such a requirement, although, it is valid to clarify, important investments have been made with this objective, especially in Puerto Madryn and Rawson. The Bahía Camarones port, perhaps the most strategically located, is presented as a deficit and very difficult to improve.

Photo: courtesy Revista Puerto

In this way, it would be interesting that after each climatic contingency, the kind that force the fleet to take shelter and stop fishing, a staggered departure of the vessels to the fishing area be organized to avoid the quagmire that arises at the end of the tide after each storm. This situation results in a clogging of ports, discharges and processing plants..Logistics capacities are oversized and, finally, the result ends up being reflected in the decline in the quality of exports.

Another worrying fact that I want to point out is that lately I have heard that some businessmen start rolling the theory that it would not be so negative to arrive ashore with broken, melanotic and even smelly prawns because, in their particular understanding, this entails the obligation to peel them and earn them with which, according to this vision, this product would generate more employment. This theory, widespread lately, could be taken as picturesque or delusional if it weren't for the fact that I have also heard it from the mouths of the highest national fisheries authorities. And there, it already worries a little more.

Photo: courtesy Revista Puerto

Finally, I would like to refer to the role of the businessmen who buy the catches of these boats and especially the larger ones. It is necessary that they stop always presenting themselves as victims of this situation and assume once and for all the role that fits them. Because the vices of the fleet that result in a poor product quality, are ultimately endorsed by their commercial agreements, since when buying everything captured without quality discrimination, they end up being complicit in the problems that they themselves mark, to a low voice, almost shyly so as not to disturb anyone and, ultimately, they are as responsible as the shipowners who provide them.

They are the same businessmen who advocate for legal certainty, predictability, clear rules, incentives and criticize the excessive interference of the State in their companies. Nothing to criticize about it. But it is necessary for them to assume the place that they hold by size and be able to demand from their suppliers a product quality that enhances us as suppliers of a unique and accessible resource that should generate wealth, foreign exchange and employment for this generous country.

Author / Source: Guillermo Nahum / Revista Puerto (translated from original in Spanish)

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