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Oceana Urges Chile to Take Urgent Measures for Fisheries

04 April 2016

CHILE - The international marine conservation organization Oceana is calling upon the Chilean Government to adopt drastic measures in the form of management and recovery plans, after the results of the State of Chilean Fisheries Report 2015, prepared by the Undersecretariat of Fishing and Aquaculture (Subpesca), revealed that more than 70 per cent of Chile's fisheries are either overexploited or collapsed.

“Year after year, the fishing crisis gets even worse, introducing one additional species to the list of collapsed and overexploited fisheries. This is clear evidence that the Government has been unable to revert a severe issue that has prolonged for more than one decade. Management plans are key resource recovery tools but more than two years after the enactment of the Fishing Law, no plans have been published as established in the regulations,” stated Liesbeth van der Meer, interim executive director of Oceana Chile.

The Annual Report by Subpesca shows the critical situation of 18 Chilean fisheries, of which nine are overexploited, with this year’s inclusion of the red shrimp, and other nine are either depleted or collapsed, with the introduction of the southern blue whiting.

In other words, 72 per cent of Chilean fisheries are not sustainable in time and catches are critically below their historical levels due to significant resource reductions.

The 2013 Report already warned about this discouraging scenario, with 48 per cent of Chilean fisheries in a critical status. At such time, eight species were overexploited and eight had already collapsed. This figure kept stable in 2014, according to that year’s Report, which clearly shows a lack of administrative policies to revert the trend.

While the institutional framework as acknowledged the fragile conservation status of most of these fisheries, in a two-year period no management plans have been established for the species. Among them is the common hake, for which Oceana suggested a Recovery Plan that included the establishment of low quotas (less than 15,000 tons), the extension of the no-take period to two months to allow breeding and spawning, establishing a minimum catch length of 38 cm, banning trawling and combating illegal fishing by means of a traceability system with a digital certificate as evidence of origin.

“The Chilean ocean has the potential to become one of the world’s most productive ecosystems. Some species have an exceptional short and medium-term recovery capacity, but if we fail to take the recovery challenge seriously under the measures established by the law, these species will take an irreversible path to collapse. This is why we are making an urgent call on the Government. We have a reached a turning point in terms of recovering the productivity of our hydrobiological resources and ensure the continuity of an economic activity that has such a huge social impact,” concluded van der Meer.

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