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In the photo the diplomat Roberto García Moritán

Argentine diplomat points Uruguay as a collaborator of illegal fishing and the British government

Click on the flag for more information about Argentina ARGENTINA
Thursday, May 21, 2020, 18:00 (GMT + 9)


After his departure from the Chancellery, Roberto García Moritán stated, in a writing, that the eastern country should stop being the nerve center of IUU Fishing in the South Atlantic and the base of operations for ships that operate with government licenses for the occupation of the Falkland Islands. Alert on recent agreements of the neighbors with China.

The former president of the Mixed Technical Commission directly involves Uruguay in assisting ships operating in the South Atlantic on which there are complaints of illegal fishing and violation of human rights. He also noted that during 2019 the port of Montevideo received ships that operate with licenses from the Falkland occupation government. The note was published by the Clarín newspaper, which also speaks for the first time of these known situations, at least for seven years. At the same time, Roberto García Moritán warns about the possibility that Chinese fleets could enter to fish in waters of the Argentine-Uruguayan Maritime Front Treaty from the construction of a Chinese port in Montevideo. Also that they would obtain a complete knowledge of the fishing species of this area, from a recent agreement signed between universities in China and Uruguay.

The first data of the collaboration of Uruguay with the ships that operate in the Falkland date from 2013, when from the SOMU, the then Secretary General Omar Suárez denounced to the Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman the collaboration of the neighboring country with the government of illegal occupation of the islands and the Uruguayan newspaper El País celebrated the commercial relationship in a note (see Boats with the Falkland flag operated in Uruguay).

About the strategic role that this country plays for the supply, repairs and even exports through its maritime agencies, it has been known since 2015 when the first investigations carried out by Milko Schvartzman came to light after occupying for fifteen years the position of Coordinator of the International Oceans Campaign for Greenpeace (see Report of Uruguay and Falkland in illegal fishing).

Despite the fact that the fishing community and the national authorities were aware of this situation, the conflict with Uruguay had never occupied space in the main national media, nor had figures in Argentine politics directly pointed out that country as a collaborator in Fisheries. IUU.

►Photo:  Milko Schvartzman and Global Fishing Watch

"Uruguayan complicity in illegal Chinese fishing in the Argentine Sea," Clarín titled for the first time since the knowledge of the connection of the boats that operate on Mile 201 is known, whether or not they are reported by Illegal Fishing (NDNR) and those operating from the Falkland Islands licensed by the British occupation government. The note published on May 14 bears the signature of Roberto García Moritán, the career diplomat who until January held the presidency of the Argentine-Uruguayan Mixed Technical Commission.

In this article, the former plenipotentiary ambassador brings to mind the investigations carried out by Healthy Oceans on the assistance that Uruguay provides through the port of Montevideo to the boats of Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. To ships that have been denounced for illegal catches and human rights violations, recalling the landing of one dead per month at that port station from the fleet that operates in the South Atlantic in 2018 (see Dead, drug, illegal fishing and twin ships in the port of Montevideo).

Photo:  Milko Schvartzman

"This controversial behavior is paradoxical after having ratified the IUU agreement on illegal fishing of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)", writes García Moritán and refers to the statements made by the director of DINARA, Andrés Domingo , equating illegal fishing with a traffic violation (see For Uruguay, illegal fishing is only a violation and the Falklands are British territory).

García Moritán, a year later, answered the Uruguayan official saying that it is "a legal anomaly that, due to its effects and international regulations, would deserve reconsideration." Ironically, he also points out that "the disappointing procedure must be related to the limited movement of the port of Montevideo."

Photo:  Milko Schvartzman and Global Fishing Watch

Regarding the assistance provided to ships that operate licenses from the British occupation government, it indicates that despite the fact that Uruguay agreed through a Mercosur agreement not to allow access to its ports for ships with the Falkland flag, in 2019 “they registered several raids with illegitimate island flag including Spanish ships that operate in the waters surrounding the archipelago. "

Then he refers to the construction "of a Chinese port" in Montevideo, which made headlines in March 2019 when the Uruguayan Executive presented the project to parliament. He describes the situation as dangerous because it would help increase the profitability of the fleet that operates in the South Atlantic, something that was already known but introduces a data that should seriously concern the Argentine authorities (see China is close to having its Uruguayan port).

Photo:  Milko Schvartzman

"China could even aspire to have a presence in the Uruguayan Argentine fishing space, within the framework of Articles 74 and 75 of the Rio de la Plata Treaty and its Maritime Front. In the past, Korean ships received licenses issued by the Uruguayan authority, ”the former president of the Mixed Technical Commission shoots.

He also warns, not without alarm, about the recent signing of an agreement between universities in China and Uruguay to jointly analyze the state of fishing species, which in his opinion would allow the fleet operating on Mile 201 to have knowledge deeper of the biological characteristics of the target species, increasing their capture potential.

"The instrument, signed between universities, would make it possible to interpret the attempt to lower the diplomatic tone of China's fisheries research that would optimize the performance of the enormous fleet that covers the South Atlantic. It would be a technical epicenter that would substantively expand the fish knowledge already provided by the satellite network available to it, ”indicates García Moritán.

“With the respect that Uruguay deserves in its decisions, it should cease to be the focal point of an activity that FAO is striving to eliminate. A bilateral fishing franchise could be a first step to jointly combat the illegal overexploitation of migratory species from the Argentine fishing ground. Let us hope that the new government cycle in Uruguay will be a diplomatic stimulus in this regard. "

Photo:  Milko Schvartzman

This is how the former diplomat closes his article, who has decided to open up after occupying for four years the presidency of the Argentine-Uruguayan Mixed Technical Commission and returning to his life as a retiree. Now it remains to know what the Argentine Foreign Ministry and the Secretariat of Falkland and the South Atlantic will do with the bomb that García Moritán has left them.

Until now only the position of Javier Figueroa, ambassador to Cuba and advisor to Daniel Filmus in this matter, is known, who published an article on a website considered akin to Kirchnerism, highlighting the need to include in the bilateral talks with Uruguay the issue of Adjacent Area, "mindful of the growing role of the port of Montevideo as a base of operations" and at the same time pointing to China as a friendly country with which "a political dialogue should be maintained that will provide long-term stability to the fishery in the Adjacent Area "

Author: Karina Fernndez / Revista Puerto



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