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Daniel Gilardoni

Having received a Doctorate in Medicine and Veterinary Technology from the University of the Republic (Uruguay), Dr. Gilardoni currently holds the position of National Director of Aquatic Resources at the Uruguayan Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fishing, a post he has occupied since 2010. In addition, he is the Uruguayan representative for the Joint Technical Commission for the Maritime Front (CTMFM), the FAO Committee on Fisheries (in 2011 and 2014), the 24a, 25a, 26a and 27a Meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Resources (from 2005 to 2008), the FAO Technical Consultation to Draft a Legally Binding Agreement on State Port Duties (in 2008 and 2009). Further to this extensive list, he is also a member of the Executive Advisory Commission for the Establishment of the Outer Limit of the Continental Shelf of Uruguay.

Is the Fishing Industry the Biggest Loser in the South-East Atlantic Conflict?
Monday, June 16, 2014

Recent publications regarding this topic have given me the motivation to put forth my point of view with respect to some of the themes developed here. It is not my intention to review the territorial dispute over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, as I coincide with the official position of the government of my country, a stance which is shared by the vast majority of Uruguayans.

However, from the perspective of someone involved in the fisheries sector, the dispute appears to have wide-ranging affects for all parties dependant upon fisheries resources in the South-eastern Atlantic, hitting riparian states the hardest, which may see the sustainability of resources threatened. It is a fact of life in the South-eastern Atlantic, that the absence of fisheries management organizations - (with the exception of ICCAT, which regulates tuna fisheries among other things) - is a weakness that has resulted in a large number of irregular fleets sailing to this region in order to undertake their activities, principally concentrating on species of notable commercial value such as squid, hake and many others.

Piracy in the Indian Ocean has been another factor which has added to the equation in recent years, having displaced vessels to within 200 miles of Argentina and Uruguay, in most probability with varying objectives, such as squid and tuna respectively. Studies indicated a few years ago that this region of the Atlantic was one of the areas where illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing had increased, unlike other regions, such as the North-west Atlantic and the Pacific North-west, where influential fisheries management organizations have discouraged IUU fishing and have contributed to the recovery of populations of threatened species.

Obviously, IUU fishing in international waters in this region is not only a question of conserving fisheries resources, but it also produces distortions in the market and is a threat to businesses and responsible investments. We have found it extremely difficult to compete under these conditions and we know that our neighbours have experienced the same difficulties.

Those fleets, financed by large subsidies [1], with little or no labour legislations and almost non-existent regulations and controls have led to unfair competition for our nations. Additionally, 'ghost' ships with false documents, have only worsened the situation. As an example for the aforementioned issues, we can cite the recent inclusion of Samudera Pasifik No.18 in the IUU regulations, which has been denounced by Uruguay, as well as Samudera No.8, which has been denounced by South Africa, in addition to Interpol which have denounced both. Comprehensive coordination of these operations should be the objective of a regional organization with jurisdiction over international waters on this side of the Atlantic.

But we also see the need for a target of greater importance regarding the management of offshore fisheries in the region. No riparian State should be left out of the exchanges of information that occur relating to the better management of stocks of different species, mainly squid and hake.

It's not breaking news that between 1990 and 2005, Argentina and the United Kingdom exchanged information and coordinated actions regarding these species in the South Atlantic Fisheries Committee (SAFC). Nor is it news that these species have a distribution area which reaches the Common Fisheries zone of Argentina and Uruguay, where hake breed for example. A more inclusive management authority could have had a greater impact on the control of this resource, which towards the end of the 90's suffered a rapid decline in numbers, a trend which is trying to be reversed.

Because of this, the success of the SAFC which Mr. John Barton refers to leaves a bitter-sweet taste for Uruguayans, we do not believe that they alone can solve all the current problems, but ultimately, it is not an issue that we feel we should intervene in ourselves. In that regard, we agree with Barton that in the absence of a multilateral regional fisheries management body, the risks to fish stocks in the area are increasingly high. Regional bodies for fisheries management can not provide a complete solution, but could significantly reduce the risks of overfishing. The issue must be addressed rationally, balancing each benefit with the potential dangers whilst also considering that these processes are usually long and will in most probability only be achieved once the recovery of the affected resources have high economic, social and political costs.


[1] Eleven flags of foreign origin which fish in the region received approximately USD 10.286 million in financial government transfers and subsidies to ensure their presence in all seas. World Trade Report 2010, World Trade Organization.

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