Overfishing, illegal fishing and the collapse of the Atlantic
Tuesday, February 11, 2020, 03:20 (GMT + 9)
The states that support the furtive fleet and the three subsidies that make it artificially viable.
Ninety-seven per cent of the global fishing effort is carried out by developed countries, and 86 % falls into the hands of only five countries: China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Spain, according to an investigation published in Science Advances.
Four of these five countries make up the poaching fleet based on the edge of Argentina's 200 mile. They also do it on mile 200 of Brazil and Uruguay, to a lesser extent, but with the same effects; these two states have not yet perceived it - if they actually want to perceive it.
Peru and Colombia have perceived it, Ecuador is an accomplice like Uruguay, and thus is how the countries in our region manage the issue. To describe them in a simple classification:
Accomplices that support poaching fleets with a history of IUU fishing (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) and slavery on board: Uruguay, Ecuador, Peru.
IUU fishing victims: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay.
Some states have not demonstrated sufficient willingness to take care of their own resources, sovereignty or economy. It is difficult for them to do so for the interests of the rest of the South American countries or the marine environment in international waters, unless there is sufficient public pressure and knowledge of the subject.
Let us return to the four highly developed countries from the Northern Hemisphere that plunder the seas, especially those around South America: China, Taiwan, South Korea and Spain - sponsored by the European Union.
The fleets of these countries are subsidized by their flag states and enslaved crews. The lowest operation cost is partly paid by the taxpayers of that country, and also by the health and death of thousands of people in countries in desperate social situation that suffer exploitation on board.
The third subsidy: the incentive to commit crime
But there is also a third incentive to these fleets, which is not taken into account. This incentive is "administrative" or related to the "lack of control", by which the flag states encourage overfishing and IUU fishing, not controlling where or how they fish, forcing them to operate for a minimum period of days a year to be able to access the subsidy, sending fishing “permits” by email to the ship's captain, for unlimited quantities of species whose status has not even been studied, not controlling the living conditions on board, labor contracts, etc, etc, etc. .
This third incentive could also be called the “incentive to commit crimes”, since it encourages their fleets to prey, enslave and violate the sovereignty of third countries, without receiving any penalty or restriction.
Playa de Pesmar Uno, caught for illegal fishing by the Argentine Naval Prefecture (Photo: Revista Puerto)
For the European Union / Spain it is not contemplated that environmental destruction and illegal fishing is a crime. Each of their ships with a long history of sanctions for falsifying capture, conducting IUU fishing, among other illegal activities, continue to operate as if nothing had happened and are rewarded with new fishing permits, illegal and destructive. Just analyze the case of Playa de Pesmar Uno, caught for illegal fishing by the Argentine Naval Prefecture in 2018 and its long previous record.
In the case of the Chinese, Taiwanese and Koreans, slavery is not a crime and their ships are repeat offenders in unloading crew members killed in Montevideo due to the living conditions on board, which we should call “conditions of death on board”.
Despite being obvious that these fleets could not operate financially and environmentally sustainably without these subsidies, this fact is demonstrated even mathematically, in a Science Advances report.
The fishing policy of these nations is simple and explicit: to prey on the oceans in a race to take the last fish.
It is difficult for anyone outside the fishing sector to understand that illegal and destructive industrial fishing in developed countries in Africa and South America is subsidized.
Unloaded in Montevideo of deceased crew member. Figure one per month in the official statistics.) Photo: Milko Schvartzman
Part of the solution
A fundamental tool to end IUU and destructive fishing in the South Atlantic is the global prohibition of subsidies.
This prohibition is part of SDG 14, a commitment made by 193 heads of state, ratified at the 2015 UN Summit, which literally sets the deadline for the cessation of subsidies by 2020, and its implementation through the WTO.
The deadline has expired, if you consider that it should have entered into force this year.
The next WTO summit will be in June 2020 in Kazakhstan. It is necessary that the states of the region maintain a solid stance to end subsidies for illegal and destructive fishing, not only to prevent the collapse of high seas fisheries and protect regional coastal economies, but also for the consequent collapse of marine ecosystems and their even more devastating effects on the planet.
Author: Milko Schvartzman - Marine Conservation Specialist. Circle of Environmental Policies / Revista Puerto