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Image: courtesy Revista Puerto

Will more boats enter the shrimp fishery?

Click on the flag for more information about Argentina ARGENTINA
Thursday, November 25, 2021, 08:00 (GMT + 9)

Today a new reformulation would be discussed at the Federal Fisheries Council (CFP) meeting and the situation has generated concern about the possibility that the number of vessels will continue to increase, when INIDEP has indicated in several reports that it is not recommended.

The Federal Fisheries Council today will take notice of the request for treatment of a new fishing project. Through a reformulation of the permit, the aim is to transform three small yellow boats into a new coastal boat with access to the shrimp fishery. INIDEP has been warning since 2012 about the sustained increase in the weetfish vessels on crustacean and since 2017 about the negative impact that the increase in fishing effort has on the sustainability of the resource. The increase in fishing effort not only implies a greater number of boats, but also an increase in fishing days and number of trips, about which biologists have already warned the authorities.

Daniel Bertuche, scientist in charge of the shrimp fishery for more than twenty years (Photo: Revista Puerto)
The growth of the weetfish vessels in the shrimp fishery has not stopped since 2009. Already in 2016, in the last report prepared by those responsible for the INIDEP Shrimp Program, Daniel Bertuche and Carina Fischbach, warned about the increase of fishing pressure: “A possible scenario, of a sharp decrease in its abundance, would provoke circumstances of difficult administration both in the Patagonian shrimp fishery, as in other important fisheries that have decreased their fishing pressure by changing some of their boats, its target species for the shrimp ”.

Over the years, the warning made by the old research team was corroborated on several occasions by the new managers of the Program, Paula Moriondo Danovaro and Juan de la Garza. The Head of the Shrimp Program stated earlier this year, in an interview conducted by this medium, that “we have already documented that as of 2017 the effort has increased greatly, through the entry of many fresh boats, it was not increased only in number but also in days and time of operations on the fishery; And as of 2018 we begin to see a lot of changes in the population, changes that are from the book related to overfishing: delay in reproductive periods, reduction of sizes, growth deceleration, all are symptoms of overfishing. This began to be seen in the population as of 2018 as a consequence of the increase in the effort that was generated as of 2017. This effort is given by the weetfish vessels, because the freezing fleet, although a couple of ships entered, remained relatively constant "

Despite repeated warnings from researchers, for more than five years the operators of the fresh sector have insisted on entering the fishery through reformulations and the Federal Fisheries Council has endorsed it. Until 2019, it was possible to enter yellow boats, boats with provincial permits, with capture stories that did not include shrimp and even of forbidden dimensions, with amazing ease.

Then, given the evidence of the impact generated by the increase in fishing effort on the fishery, which was denounced by the researchers in repeated technical reports, the granting was lower, but, although in a trickle, it has not been stopped.

The last reformulation approved dates from July 2021, that of the Old Amábile boat that practically did not register activity, became a quota of non-quoted species of 1,300 tons for the Fe en Dios I ship, thus allowing the entry of a new boat to the fishery.

In recent weeks it was learned that another reformulation project has entered the Federal Fisheries Council and there is fear that it will continue slowly but firmly in the increase of the weetfish vessels on shrimp. These are the Nuevo Buenos Aires Querido, Juliana S and Indómito small boats, through which it is intended to access a 1,200-ton quota for a new boat.

In itself, the entry of more vessels into the fishery is worrying, but the means from which it is intended to enter are even more so. The analysis of the permits that are intended to be reformulated reveals a certain lack of scruples.

Photo: Revista Puerto

The Nuevo Buenos Aires Querido small boat, from Rawson, is 12 meters long and has not recorded a shrimp catch in the last four years, precisely because it was replaced by Juliana S. However, this boat never made use of that national permit, because he used a VACOPA to catch shrimp with an average of 600 tons per year. It should be noted that the VACOPA are permits for various Patagonian coastal areas, which exclude shrimp as a target species.

The other boat that has been included in the reformulation package is the Indómito. This boat has been carrying irregularities since the eighties, when it was allowed to renew the transitory permit without presenting the proper documentation until finally, in 1992, it was granted a definitive permit for all species, excluding shrimp, hubbsi hake and southern hake (File 50210/1985). In fact, Indomito does not record any shrimp catch despite its long history.

The curious thing is that this little boat appears today on the official list of vessels with permits for all species without southern hake; they seem to have forgotten to list the exclusion of hake and shrimp from their original permit. A lapse in the Fisheries Register that is more common than desirable and that has allowed in recent years that several boats without a shrimp permit also enter the fishery. Situation that could be repeated in this case.

This afternoon the Federal Fisheries Council will consider the request for approval of the fishing project presented by the shipowners Francisco Boccanfuso, Miguel Rosales and Mateo Mariscal and will decide whether to treat it, whether to approve it or reject it.

To continue increasing the fishing effort by approving a new reformulation, would go against the recommendations of the biologists of INIDEP, the only binding advisory body for the fishing authorities. It is precisely in the shrimp reports that the tools are found to put an end to the increase in the fleet.

“The shrimp is a highly dynamic species, with important changes in terms of the distribution of profitable economic concentrations, changes in the reproductive strategy, among others. The results of the last fishing seasons, in terms of shrimp yields, the fishing effort applied and the results of the evaluation campaigns carried out since March 2017, would indicate that the maximum extraction limit would have been reached, with a fishery that it could be around 200,000 tons if it is administered in a precautionary manner, ” the researchers concluded in one of their reports last year. 

Source: Revista Puerto

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