Chile Addresses Illegal Fishing Challenge

21 October 2016, at 1:00am

CHILE - A workshop was held recently in Chile to discuss trends and solutions to the illegal fishing challenge in the country.

Hosted by Oceana, the marine conservation organization, the event was attended by Government representatives, artisanal and industrial fishermen, the Chilean Navy and distinguished researchers and academicians.

The stakeholders agreed that fighting illegal fishing is crucial to recover the country’s most impacted fisheries, considering that 72 per cent of them are either overexploited or depleted.

“While we invest in preparing management and recovery plans for the Chilean fisheries, illegal fishing is thwarting all conservation efforts implemented. If decisions-makers, the academia and governmental agencies fail to come together in a joint effort, it would be extremely difficult to secure fish stocks for future generations,” said Liesbeth van der Meer, Executive Director with Oceana.

The Fisheries Undersecretary, Raúl Súnico, declared that the concept of illegal fishing is not defined in the regulatory framework; no sanctions are in place for those who benefit the most from it.

“Today, our system strongly punishes those who fish or extract resources, but no sanctions are in place for those who are involved in the business”, noted the Undersecretary, adding that the “Chilean enforcement system foresees very few sanctions for vendors, which is where most of the fishing resources are handled.”

Currently, a bill is being discussed which defines illegal fishing as a crime and considers effective punishment for the entire chain, which will allow for the intervention of the police and public prosecutors.

The National Monitoring Agency (Sernapesca) will undertake enforcement tasks and on that regard, National Director, José Miguel Burgos, stated that the plan “is a risk analysis strategy conducted by fishery, enforcement strategies are established, in other words, the areas where we think enforcement will be most effective”.

When illegal fishing takes place, different fish stocks are modified, natural predators are removed and a series of difficulties in marine ecosystems emerge. In such context, fighting illegal fishing is crucial to recover overexploited or depleted species in Chile, such as common hake, anchovy, horse mackerel and sardine.