Trawling ban law threatens ‘entire industrial jumbo cuttlefish fleet’ in Chile
Plant closures, hundreds of layoffs expected from new regulation.
Modifications to the current Chilean fishing law banning midwater trawling and purse seine fishing for jumbo cuttlefish (Dosidicus gigas) in Chile will force companies to close plants and discontinue using some fishing vessels.
The regulation, published on the Chilean National Bulletin in February, is scheduled to take effect on Aug. 16, and is expected to lead to the loss of as many as 1,800 jobs.
Industrial companies Landes, Pacific Blu, Pesquera Alimar, and Pesquera San Lazaro currently catch jumbo cuttlefish in the south-central area of the Chilean coast.
In total, six trawlers are operating and catching 40,000 metric tons of the resource, or 20 percent of the total annual quota set at 200,000 metric tons. The remaining 80 percent of the quota belongs to artisanal vessels.
With the modification of the law, artisanal vessels will continue to catch the species using artisanal fishing gear, however, according to the industrial fleet, this is not enough to catch their share of the quota and the new law could also put the business of artisanal fishermen at risk.
“Due to the oceanographic conditions, artisanal vessels can only go out to sea about five days a month, these are not enough volumes to keep our plants running,” Andres Fosk, CEO of Pesquera Landes, which has two cuttlefish vessels, told IntraFish.
“We not only have to put down our vessels and stop fishing, we’ll also be forced to shut down plants and, of course, we will no longer be able to buy from artisanal vessels because we will not be processing.”
In total, Pesquera Landes has an annual turnover of approximately $70 million (€62.8 million), of which one-third comes from the jumbo cuttlefish segment.
The approval of this law is considered unconstitutional by the industrial fishing industry and by sector authorities such as the Under Secretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Subpesca).
According to Eduardo Riquelme, head of Subpesca, the fishing gears allowed for each species should be determined and adjusted as administrative measures supervised and implemented by the technical official body, in this case Subpesca, and not by the Senate.
“These decisions should have a technical base,” Riquelme said.
The artisanal fishing fleet celebrated the approval of the law, however, claiming it is an achievement for their industry.