'Floating city' of fishing boats moves along Argentine zone raising strong environmental concerns

In the vicinity of the San Jorge Gulf, in front of the province of Chubut, pilots flew over the fleet at less than two thousand meters high and they found a chain of white lights from foreign ships that make up a city of fishing boats that defy the limits of the zone many times getting inside the area of ​​exclusive economic use of Argentina, in this footage compiled on April 3. Just outside that zone, in a place known as mile 201, the activity of foreign fishing boats is not covered by local regulations. However, the opportunities to fill their warehouses are better within the Argentine sector. There is no longer national or global law that can combat surface and bottom predation that, according to Greenpeace monitoring, in 2019 already showed signs of exhaustion due to the over-exploitation of resources. There are no official data but it is estimated that the boats - some 70 meters long - have the capacity to catch 50 tons of squid per night. Depth changes and business becomes more favorable at miles 196 or 197. The problem of illegal fishing begins there, with damages for Argentina estimated at a US $ 2 billion a year. That is where Argentine waters end and the international ones begin. That is where the so-called Exclusive Economic Zone ends, as foreign vessels cross uncontrollably to take the squid back to their countries. And it is not just China, they also come from Korea and Spain. The patrolling of the Navy and the Prefecture is effective if they detect not only the movement of fishing vessels within the Argentine area - since international laws cannot prevent the navigation of a vessel - but also the fishing work of crew. Only in this way can a judicial process of inspection or capture of the offending ship be initiated. Knowing this limitation in prevention activity, more than 470 fishing boats have positioned themselves since January just outside the limit, where their activity has no official regulation and they are waiting for the moment to strike. The Navy and the Prefecture are complementing each other this year in patrolling tasks more intensively after an agreement signed on October 21 between the Minister of Defense, Agustín Rossi, and the Minister of Security, Sabina Frederic. The most recent official report-entitled The National Government works to prevent and neutralize illegal fishing- stated: “In a joint effort of the Ministries of Security, Defense, Foreign Relations and Worship, and of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to affirm Argentine sovereignty and prevent the depredation of natural resources in our waters, the Argentine Naval Prefecture carries out exhaustive daily tasks to prevent, discourage and avoid illegal fishing that could occur in the Argentine Exclusive Economic Zone (ZEEA)”. And it was explained in the official statement: "This joint work allowed, since the end of 2020, the Prefecture has identified and carried out a detailed and daily monitoring of 314 fishing vessels (240 from the Pacific, 65 from the South Atlantic and 9 from the North Atlantic."