Fishing: They continue to prey on us illegally

Fishing: They continue to prey on us illegally

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By Roberto Maturana

Before starting this analysis, it is necessary to mention that the official figures themselves denote an astonishing growth in catches from freezer vessels, while those from fresqueros have remained constant over the last decade. At the end of the eighties only 20% of the total catches corresponded to freezer vessels, when it is currently 60.7%.

The performance of catches in freezer vessels

A typical freezer ship, one of those that has entered the country in recent years, has a warehouse capacity for approximately 700 to 1000 tons of finished product and a propulsion power of approximately 2,600 HP.

Each trip of these boats lasts between 40 and 60 days approx. Considering the stays in port, this implies that the ship makes between 5 and 8 trips a year.

The "yield" of a freezer vessel with filleting machines on board, ranges between 25% and 30% of the total tonnes caught (this according to data supplied by different fishing captains who have worked on said vessels). Although it is true that some machines have a higher utilization than the aforementioned, this is verified only when they are calibrated to the exact measure of the fish to be processed. Therefore, due to the variety of sizes of the captured species, the previous yields are high, since there are cases where only 20% of the raw material is used.

On the other hand, most freezer vessels do not have on-board flour factories or mechanisms to make by-products through the use of waste. Therefore, these are thrown into the sea deteriorating the marine ecosystem.

It is true that not all the product produced by freezer vessels corresponds to filet, whole fish and H&G are also unloaded, which would increase the aforementioned yields, however this would be offset by the fish that is discarded before reaching the plant of elaboration. This discard can occur for two main reasons: 1) Small size of the fish (discard of juveniles); or 2) Because the plant does not have enough to process all the fish caught and when the net is raised again, all the catch from the previous set is thrown into the sea that could not be processed and is no longer in optimal conditions.

For all the above, I reiterate that taking a general yield of between 25% to 30% for the freezer fleet is very "conservative".

Comparison between the fishing effort of fresh and freezer vessels

Let us now take the hypothetical example of a freezer ship unloading 800 tons of finished product. This implies that it should have actually caught between 2,670 and 3,200 tons of fresh fish (2,670 x 35% = 800 and 3,200 X 30% = 800). Also, throughout the year this freezer vessel would be catching between 13360 tons and approximately 25600 tons (2,670 x 5 0 13,500 and 3,200 X 8 = 25600) of which between 9,350 tons and 19,200 tons of waste would be wasted or thrown into the sea that could have been reprocessed on land (13,350 - (800 x 5) = 9,350 and 25600 - ( 800 x 8) = 19200).

For comparative purposes we will use an average catch of 20,000 tons per year.

For their part, the fresh boats currently carry out between 30 and 36 tides a year (depending on the capacity of the ship) and use boxes of 35 kilograms, each. If we consider the same catch of 20,000 tons per year, we see that some of the following quantities of fresh vessels are alternatively needed.

a) 10 fresh boats of 500 HP and about 1650 boxes that complete 36 trips per year (1650 x 35 x 35/1000 = 2079; 20000/2079 = 9.62)

b) 6 fresh boats of 850 HP and about 3000 boxes that complete 30 trips a year. (3000 x 35 x 30/1000 = 3150; 20000/3150 = 6.30).

This means that maintaining the same fishing effort, a 2500 HP freezer boat is equivalent to 10 500 HP fresh boats or 6 850 HP fresh boats, working at their maximum capacity. As illustrative data, it could be added that only one of these freezers exerts the same or greater effort on the resource than the entire cooling fleet of ports such as Necochea, Rawson, Bahía Blanca, San Antonio Oeste, Puerto Deseado or many other minor ones. Let us think then which alternative offers greater social benefits: a freezer ship or the coastal fleets of any of the previous ports.

The delays in the replacement of cooling boats by freezers

According to what has been analyzed above, it is evident that there is no "1 to 1" relationship between the HP of freezer and fresh food vessels. In other words, before the enactment of Res. 985/94, it was not enough to replace 5 500 HP coolers to cover the effort of a 2500 HP freezer. In fact, it would have been necessary to remove 10 fresqueros from the fleet, that is, twice as much. This is one of the many reasons why it has reached the current dimensioning of the fleet.

To this should be added that many freezer ship owners undervalued their real propulsion powers when they incorporated the ships into the fleet.

For its part, Res. 985/94 does not improve this situation in any way, if it does not control compliance with the fishing quotas assigned to freezers. Furthermore, the aforementioned Resolution does not establish that there must be a certain coincidence between the potential capture of the replacement vessel and the quota that is being granted by virtue of the disaffected vessels. In this way we see how there are freezer ships that unload 800 tons. of finished product in each tide, but with annual quotas of only 4000 tons. of fresh fish, which is incompatible by virtue of the preceding analyzes, since the annual fishing quota would be enough for them to make a single trip, but in reality they operate throughout the year.

Lastly, it is also a matter of great concern that some large fresh-size vessels are being transformed into freezers, since, apart from the social damage they generate, the fishing effort is increasing significantly due to the characteristics of the new operation.

Hours of effective fishing between freezer and cooler vessels

Regardless of the yields, discards and catch per HP of power exerted by each of the types of vessels analyzed, it is important to recognize the difference in effective hours of fishing that exists between both fleets.

For example, a cool ship of about 2,200 boxes currently performs 30 to 38 trips a year, 33 on average with a duration of 8 to 11 days per trips. The navigation to the fishing area is also on average, 3 days in total (1.5 days to reach the area and the same time to return to port). In total there would be 99 days of navigation per year (3 x 33). Average stay in port per trip is 36 hours x 33 trips = 50 days of total stay per year. Lastly, it is estimated that the cooling boats dry up or are paralyzed due to various repairs for at least 10 days a year. In this way we can calculate by difference the effective days of fishing:

Stays 50 days
Navigation 99 days
Repairs 10 days
Fishing 206 days
Total 365 days

The same analysis for fresh vessels of between 2,500/4000 boxes gives us a total of 215 days of effective fishing, while the fresh boats of 4,000/5000 boxes would fish about 220 days a year.

For their part, freezer vessels with 700/1000 tons of finished product make an average of 7 trips a year with a duration of 46 days approx. The stay in port to unload the merchandise and restock is about 6 days (6 days x 7 tides = 42 days a year). The trip to the fishing area is the same as that of the cooling boats (3 days x 7 tides = 21 days a year). Finally, we are going to calculate an annual stop for repairs of 7 days a year, since although the tasks in these Boats can demand more time, it is also true that these boats are not put dry once a year, but every 2 or 2.5 years. The calculation of effective fishing days would be as follows:

Stays 42 days
Navigation 21 days
Repairs 7 days
Fishing 295 days
Total 365 days

This means that regardless of yields and discards, freezer vessels fish up to 90 days longer than fresh vessels, which represents a difference of 44%.

The actual catch of the freezer fleet and its impact on hake overfishing

Before starting this analysis, it is necessary to mention that the official figures themselves denote an astonishing growth in the catches of freezer vessels, while those of the fresqueros have remained constant during the last decade. At the end of the eighties only 20% of the total catches corresponded to freezer vessels, when currently 60.7% of the declared catches would have been made through this type of vessel.

I emphasize that these data are according to what has been declared, because based on the differences that exist between the tons of finished product that are landed and the catches actually made by freezer vessels, it is obvious to assume that many shipowners or captains of ships freezers are undervaluing their affidavits on fishing parties. This is intensified by the fact that there are freezer vessels with fishing quotas that are insufficient.

Confirming what has been said, INIDeP itself has estimated in its latest publication on the hake resource that the actual catch of the freezing fleet is 61.9% higher than what those vessels declared. With this, only 55 freezer vessels consume the entire maximum allowable catch of hake in a period of 5 months (!).

This means that, if we calculate the actual catch of the freezer vessels, we will arrive at figures that far exceed the 589 thousand tons of hake declared. If to this we add the catch of the Uruguayan fleet and mile 201, we see that the situation of the hake resource is extremely delicate since we would be far exceeding the million tons caught per year of this species when the catch recommended by scientists is of 335 thousand tons.

The waste of raw materials

Apart from the predatory effect and the pollution produced by the discarding and waste of fish thrown by freezer vessels, it also means a significant loss of income because if this fish had been processed on land, flours and oil would have been obtained as by-products.

In the case of hake, if we consider that 300 thousand tons of the total caught corresponds to the freezer fleet, only taking the percentages of the INIDeP (62%) we would have 181,000 tons of hake that were discarded plus another 210,000 tons wasted by machines with a yield 30%. That is to say, 391000 tons of heavy were thrown into the sea, making a very conservative account. With this fish thrown into the sea, 64,500 tons of fishmeal (yield 16.5%) would have been produced for a value of 34 million dollars and 8000 liters of fish oil.

Based on the exports of finished products for the year 1996 and taking into account the preceding performance percentages, we can infer that in reality the Argentine fleet dumped more than 500 tons of hake and waste into the sea, with which the losses are much higher.

The use of labor in freezer and cooling vessels

According to the scheme attached hereto, it has been determined that there is a ratio of at least 6 to 1 between the personnel occupied by freezer and cooling vessels at the same fishing effort. In other words, for each person who is employed in fishing with freezer vessels, another 5 jobs are being wasted if they had chosen to use cooling vessels and process the product in plants.

Again I clarify that I have been extremely conservative in calculating these figures. On the other hand, it should be noted that many of the crew employed by some freezer vessels are foreigners or young people recruited from the interior of the country without any experience, which does not contribute to alleviating unemployment in the fishing sector.

Go back to the regulations of the 70s

It seems incredible that on the threshold of the next century, Argentines are debating the fishing model and the type of vessels with which we intend to continue exploiting our fishery. The surprise is even greater because in our case it denotes a setback, not only in the thinking of some businessmen who were once staunch opponents of freezer vessels and who today defend them, but also in current legislation.

In the case of businessmen, the change in position is explained by the fact that by virtue of the above it is evident that under certain conditions freezer vessels are cheaper. As the Rawson Chamber of Industry and Commerce says in an ad hoc report, this happens because the cost of the fishing ground is not put into the equation. In other words, freezer ships produce at a lower cost than plants on land because the raw material is paid for by all of us.

What does not find justification are the changes that have arisen in the successive rules that regulate the sector, not only by allowing the indiscriminate entry of these ships, but also by regulating their operation. We consider the social costs that these policies generate, it is evident that this is an important achievement of the acting lobbies.

Thus, we find that Resolution 189 of the National Meat Board sanctioned in May 1975 established a specific zone for the operation of factory ships. Resolution S.E.I.M. 143/77 limited the operation of freezer vessels and factories at a distance of no less than 15 miles from the coast and at depths greater than 50 fathoms in the common area of ​​the Río de la Plata. Resolution S.E.I.M. 183/79 prohibited the operation of this type of vessel north of parallel 40º South and Resolution S.E.I.M. 938/80 authorized them to carry out only two tides per year north of parallel 40º South. Needless to say, neither these nor other similar norms are still in force.

Obviously, the situation has become much more flexible and the ships that entered to operate in certain areas and thus avoid the intrusion of foreign vessels ended up competing with our traditional fleets and displacing them not only from the fishing ground but also from the markets. Isn't it the time to look back a bit and put some justice back into the exploitation of the cauldron?

The example of other countries

Most of the countries with fishing industries give priority to access the resource to fresh and artisanal fishing to sustain their onshore industries and assign their fleets of freezer vessels to operate in international waters or in third countries.

No one would dare to think that the European Union would authorize its own freezer vessels and factories that currently operate in Argentina to fish in its territorial sea.

A significant example appears in the Fishing News International Magazine of March 1997, in a note dedicated to the Norwegian group RG, perhaps the fastest growing group in contemporary fishing, with numerous vessels operating this group in different fishing grounds around the world. These are all freezer ships or factories with an average production of more than 100 tons per day, with the sole exception of those that operate in their country of origin, Norway, where they are exclusively refrigerated ships. Needless to say, this group has several processing plants installed on Norwegian soil.

Iceland for example has a fleet of more than 600 ships, but less than a dozen of them are large freezers or factories.

Examples closer to ours are found in other countries that are not so developed but with clearer and more energetic policies. Let's see how the different varieties of hake are exploited in the world. For example, South Africa imposes a limitation on the HP of each vessel that intends to operate in the Cape Namibia hake fishery to the Spanish freezer fleet and established that by 1995 at least 60% of the hake authorized to catch will be unloaded fresh to be processed on land. In Peru, freezers of more than 50 tons of net tonnage must operate more than 30 miles from the coast, that is, outside the continental shelf. Thus, I could continue with more examples that speak of coherence in favoring fishing with fresh boats.

Dr. Kirchner, I respectfully request you to promote faithful compliance with Law 25.109 on fishing emergency and its subsequent DNU in force, in compliance with Federal Law 24.922 on Fisheries, CONVEMAR and the FAO Responsible Fishing Code to which our Homeland is attached. .

Removing illegal ships from the Argentine sea and promoting the return of the money stolen from the Nation since the past decade by businessmen who illegally prey on us is an act in defense of Argentina.

I remain at your entire disposal to ratify and expand all the statements made here.

* Roberto Maturana
Merchant Marine Officer-Investigator

Video: Blowing Up an Illegal Boat (June 2022).


  1. Akinoktilar

    Thanks for the explanation. All ingenious is simple.

  2. Zuka

    I understand this issue. You can discuss.

  3. Dalton

    I apologize for interrupting you, but in my opinion the subject is already out of date.

  4. Lander

    Funny, I showed it to my friends

  5. Shabaka

    you have to try everything

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