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FAO Project Enhanced Fishing System in Uruguay

25 October 2013

URUAGUAY - Developing a strategy for sustainable development of Uruguay's fisheries sector, updating knowledge on the main fishery resources and developing a new regulatory framework for fisheries and aquaculture, were some of the major achievements of an FAO project in the country which finished recently.

Uruguay has traditionally been an agricultural country with limited development of fisheries, despite having a coastline of over 700 km on the Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic Ocean. Until the early 70s fishing being done in the country was handmade. Industrial fishing began to develop towards the end of the 70 operating primarily around three species: croaker and whiting on the coast, and hake in deeper waters.

Although in recent decades the industrial catch diversified considerably and there were changes in the relative importance of the species landed, in 2007 four species accounted for 70 per cent of landings: hake, croaker, squid and whiting. Artisanal fisheries currently contributes about four per cent to the total landings of Uruguay.

FAO has accompanied the development of fisheries in Uruguay since its inception and has been a constant reference for preservation and management of aquatic resources to the implementation of various projects.

This time, the government requested assistance from FAO to modernize DINARA institutional structure, review the political, strategic and legal fishing update knowledge on the main species caught, adapt the characteristics of fishery products to the international requirements and promote the development of aquaculture as a productive alternative.

Thus, in July 2007 was signed in Uruguay Fisheries Management Project which lasted until 2013, with an investment of $4,590,000 by the Uruguayan government. The counterpart was designated to implement the National Aquatic Resources (DINARA) of the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries (MGAP).

According to the final report prepared by the consulting oceanographer Silvana Giordano, among the outstanding achievements by the project should be mentioned the "formulation of a Strategy for Sustainable Development of the Fisheries and a new legal framework for the activity: Proposal for Responsible Fisheries Act and Aquaculture Development in a participatory process that lasted two years."

In addition to the modernization of inspection services and adapting seafood certification to international requirements, updating knowledge on the main fishery resources, the start to experience marine fish culture and management of the participation of all stakeholders in advisory.

In an interview with FAO, Giordano said the law was outdated from fishing to 30 years and within the innovative aspects is the creation of co-management structures for fishing, which are the Zonal Advisory Councils where "the fishing authority, the fishermen and municipalities exchanged views on the issue of sub-sector, including the status of fishery resources, and discusses potential solutions."

It also put in place the "Tables of Fisheries and advisory bodies in which representatives of the whole sector and involves the formation and operation of a Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund for funding through competitive research, innovation and development," outlines the report.

These instruments, the Fund for Fisheries and Aquaculture, highlights the respondent, as the first Advisory Councils for fishing and Fishing tables have already been put into operation by DINARA, in a preparatory action of what would later be required by law.

The document further explains that "significant progress was made in the generation of knowledge about Uruguay aquatic resources focusing on major species but also addressing the generation of knowledge about new ones to promote greater diversification of fisheries production." It points to the potential of the crop of new species and replanting of species at risk to meet the needs of fisheries and contribute to the preservation of resources. With this project and complementary actions being implemented by DINARA and private producers, Uruguay may be profiled to aquaculture production after "40 years of discouraging attempts."

"The project has helped to spread the cultivation of freshwater species (catfish and mackerel) and has started experiments in marine aquaculture (flounder, codling) with promising results." This is interesting when you consider that fish consumption in Uruguay is 7 k per capita per year, "low for a country with abundant water reservoirs and an extensive coastal area," said  the consultant.

As for the areas of operation of fishing fleets, strengthened its control to improving the system of "satellite monitoring of the fleet and the generation of data in real time," the report develops.

In the health area, the Department of Fisheries implemented a quality management system was certified nationally and internationally. Controls were improved analysis techniques and sanitary way to ensure the quality and safety of fishery products Uruguayans. In turn, strengthened capacity in the sector through intensive training plan that took place during project implementation.

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