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January 2011

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Q&A

Zoila Bustamante CONAPACH - Chilean National Confederation of Artisanal Fishermen Ian Emmett FNI: Can you describe how extensive CONAPACH’s membership is? ZB: There are now 400 organisations under the CONAPACH umbrella, meaning 80-90% of the total. When taking into account the jobs dependent on fishing - transport, distribution chain, producers, etc, we are talking about 300,000 jobs in all within the artisanal sector. Artisanal boats are those under 18m overall catching pelagic, demersal and benthonic species. Over the years, the confederation has gained some political sway and has managed to make itself heard to the extent that it is always present at Congress when legislation is being debated, regardless of if we are invited or not. Over the past three years, four new items of legislation incorporated proposals were tabled by CONAPACH. One of these included in the Aquaculture Law helps to avoid further contamination, in the 10th Region (south), from the salmon plants installed in interior waters. Despite this law governing the aquaculture sector, the government is obliged by law to invite CONAPACH, which was able to contribute. FNI: Can you outline some of the conflicts for the artisanal fleet? ZB: Salmon aquaculture is a source of ongoing conflict for the artisanal fleet in Chile, not only because of the space that it takes up but also due to the contamination it produces that affects fisheries. Article 47 in the Fisheries Law

President: Zoila Bustamante at CONAPACH’s Valparaíso

The history of CONAPACH (Confederación Nacional de Pescadores Artesanales de Chile) has its roots in the early days of trade unions in the 1920s, materialising as FENAPACH in the early 1970s, becoming CONAPACH in 1980 as an organisation designed to stand up for the rights of its members. The current President, Zoila Bustamante, heads this confederation of 78,000 members who are entitled to quotas. When more peripheral members such as the scuba and apnea divers as well as the seaweed collectors are included, this figure rises to a membership of 120,000.

stipulates that the first 5 miles from the coastline and the interior waters are reserved for the artisanal fleet, but now the 5-mile limit is being invaded by the industrial fleet and the interior waters are being occupied by the salmon farms as well being contaminated by the thermoelectric plants, all producing waste products that are suffocating the sea.

We cannot accept having thermoelectric plants set up along our coastline as they suck up millions of litres of water containing plankton and microfauna. All these organisms die when discharged back into the sea because the water is returned at 24ºC. Since the thermoelectric plants are coal-fired, they also contaminate the surrounding land and air. The cellulose manufacturing plants along the coast are another blight that we suffer from. I say blight because many people choose to ignore what is being destroyed and only see a source of employment, as long as they can earn money. It doesn’t matter what resources are being destroyed, and the jobs that are lost as a result. A prime example of this is the Arauco cellulose manufacturer determined to set up a plant with a waste outlet to the sea, in the Bay of Mehuín. We’ve been fighting against this for 13 years with a huge conglomerate in conjunction with the Committee for the Defence of the Sea. The seaboard town of Constitución, in the Maule Region, severely hit by the tsunami and the earthquake, has a large cellulose plant pumping its waste into the sea. But there are no protests as it employs a large number of locals. FNI: So what about the technical reports that the cellulose manufacturers have to present? ZB: This is one of

the government mistakes that goes back many years now. As far as us artisanal fishermen are concerned, what we can’t get our head round is the fact that if a company pays somebody to do a study then, obviously, the result is not going to go against that company and so the person drafting the report would not get paid. [Sernapesca, the Chilean National Fisheries Department, receives these reports]. The same happens in the salmon industry, which is why we lobbied so that the government would fund these scientific reports. The government is currently looking into ways for Sernapesca to finance these reports. FNI: The Chilean fishing industry lacks a ministry. Is there any lobbying going on in this area? ZB: Despite Chile’s 6,435 km of coastline, foreign ships operating in international waters, and industrial and artisanal fleet and the constant need for surveillance, the industry has no fisheries ministry. The national coastal fisheries are divided up into regions, and when boats from one region illegally invade another, the only way that Sernapesca is able to respond is to call up the navy to send a patrol boat, by which time the illegal catch has been landed and distributed. Sporadic road controls are occasionally set up to catch the distributors but not the fishermen.

“Whenever there’s a problem in our sector, there is talk about ‘reconversion’ – in reality this means turning fishermen into shoe repairers or barbers” The fishing industry in general is under the Ministry of Economy and Tourism. I remember as if it were yesterday how the recently elected President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, stated that he was going to boost tourism. But at the expenses of what? Of artisanal fishing becoming a mere tourist attraction, with fishermen taking tourists out on – they call it ‘reconversion’. Whenever there’s a problem in our sector, there is talk about reconversion, meaning turning fishermen into shoe repairers or barbers. Talks were held


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January 2011

Q&A

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Oxen: A pair are used to haul up the boats up the beach at the end of a day’s fishing and to take the catch away to be weighed and sold to local restaurants or processors ArtisAnAl: Loco (Concholepas concholepas) are caught by the artisanal fishermen up to several kilometres offshore. At Cobquecura in the Bíobío Region these are taken by divers supplied with air by a compressor on board the boat lOcO: A Sernapesca official is there to check on sizes and amounts in a managing area with Bachelet, the previous president of Chile, to lobby for a Ministry of the Sea, but the issue seems to have been swept under the carpet. One of the problems in lobbying for this is that, in the current Ministry of Economy, they have to rely on being assessed by technicians from previous governments who have industry knowledge. FNI: What is CONAPACH’s position on the possible cuts in quotas for next year? ZB: The government is currently advising of possible cuts in quotas for next year, alleging the poor state of the stocks. The mackerel quota, normally around 1,300,000t, is expected to be set at 850,000t, according to Pablo Galilea, the Subsecretary of Fisheries. Final figures will be released in December. But there is no mention of preserving the resources, just of cutting back the quotas, holding the artisanal fleet as being partly responsible, despite the fact that it only catches 5% of the total mackerel quotas, the rest being assigned to the industrial fleet. So they seem to think that reducing the quota that will solve the problem, but without applying conservation measures. Since we only have 5% of the quota for mackerel, it came as a surprise that recently the Ministry of Economy stated that it was the artisanal fleet that was most to blame for the collapse of the Pacific mackerel fishery. So how can that be the case if we only have 5% of the resource? A few days ago, we had a meeting with the Subsecretary of Fisheries regarding the issue of the artisanal industry being largely to blame for the collapse of the mackerel fishery. His reply was that “we had misunderstood”. I told him that we artisanal fishermen do not use trawl nets and we use selective fishing methods, unlike the industrial fleet, which gets the biggest quotas. Apart from that, it’s not our fault that you, the government, in the matter of the RFO, have lost half of the Pacific mackerel quota. The only fishery in a healthy state today is that of the common sardine and anchovy, with 75% of this quota belonging to the artisanal fleet. This fleet has 50%%

of the southern hake quota for this sector, 35% of the common hake and 18% of the cusk eel (Genypterus blacodes) quota. Chileans are not fish eaters and so fishing accounts for only 7% of the GNP. One of the ways round this is to give added value to fish using traceability and this is one of the demands coming from the European Union to be able to export into Europe. Exporting into Asian

place to give added value to the resources. Speaking from my own experience in the benthonic sector, I worked for years extracting loco (Concholepas concholepas), often marketed as Chilean abalone although it is not in the same family. The artisanal collectors sell loco to the industrial processors who remove the shell but the artisanal sector is unable to set the price.

“Salmon aquaculture is a source of ongoing conflict for the artisanal fleet here in Chile, not only because of the space that it takes up but also due to the contamination it produces that affects fisheries” countries involves fewer requirements, but to export fish and seafood products from MAs (management areas), the PSMB (Live Bivalve Mollusc Health Programme) certification is an absolute necessity to confirm that the waters are not contaminated, which gives the product an added value when sold. FNI: But what are the possibilities for artisanal fishermen to go for this option? ZB: About a thousand to one, because the study costs 14 million Chilean pesos (€21,300) – extremely expensive! In a recent meeting on benthonic fishing, CONAPACH heard how the industrial fleet will be obtaining the PSMB to be able to export to the EU. Down in the 10th Region, they are starting to use fibre boxes for southern hake so that there is no contact with fuel or water while on board and up to being landed. This gives added value to the catch. The problem with this isolating box is that it takes up a lot of valuable space that our small boats can’t do without. In any case, ideas like this are being put into

FNI: CONAPACH’s slogan is ‘Unity is Triumph’, and unity undoubtedly gives strength to an argument. To what extent has CONAPACH been able to draw the artisanal sector together? ZB: I’m very grateful for being in this position as President, for the past three years because I’ve learnt a lot. As I said, I used to be just involved with benthonic collecting, but now I’m busy with the benthonic, demersal and pelagic sectors, and lots of other things besides. Time was when there were only 270 organizations in this confederation, but now there almost 400. FNI: But doesn’t all this diversity lessen the weight of CONAPACH? ZB: No, quite the contrary. We used to cover about 50% of the sector, whereas now we represent 80-90% of the total. So we now have better political influence. FNI: What kind of reception has CONAPACH been given by the new Government? ZB: It’s not been bad, that I can say. But

not good either. On the second day of the new government back in March of this year, we held a meeting with Pablo Galilea, Subsecretary of Fisheries, where we took on several commitments with him. In fact, both parties have met their commitments, both the government and CONAPACH. But being fishermen, we tend to look ‘below the waterline.’ We work for the artisanal fishermen, we’ve been democratically voted in by them and we don’t work for the government. So we have a mandate to make sure that the government continues to meet its agreements with us. FNI: Is Pablo Galilea in favour of setting up a Ministry of the Sea? ZB: We haven’t touched this issue with him so far. I can’t say what his position is until we’ve talked to him about this. FNI: How do you see the future for the artisanal sector and CONAPACH. ZB: In the words of the FAO in 2009, ‘World food security is vital.’ Who generates food in fishing? The artisanal sector more than anything, because we not only catch, but we also maintain the fisheries by using selective methods. As our office manager Miguel Leiva puts it: ‘We are not directors of fishermen, we are directing fishermen.’ The artisanal fishing industry, unlike the industrial, here in Chile has been around for more than 500 years and our origins go back to the Cahuascar, Hona and Chango indigenous people in the north. We’re used to having to fight to make our living, persevering against all odds. We supply food protein and resources we are part of the culture and history. On saying that, we don’t burn up all the resources and then disappear off the map. We’re not a predator industry that collapses the resources, sells up and leaves. And we intend to continue being here, come what may. I’ve seen how fishermen in other countries fight tooth and nail to maintain their resources and that’s what we set out to carry on doing – and that’s why I have CONAPACH close to my heart.


Flawed science on fisheries

Faroe Islands Dungeness crab fishery overview

FAO adviser Menakhem Ben-Yami talks to FNI. Pages 14-15

North Atlantic islands rely on international links. Pages 16-23

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12

May 2010

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COVER STORY

shock: Coastal communities were devastated by the tsunami that followed the earthquake that rocked Chile on the 27 February. The government has pledged

Communities in turmoil as Chile st Ian Emmett in Tomé

C

hile’s Bío-Bío region was the area hardest hit by the 8.80 Richter scale earthquake that struck on the 27 February last. Just a few hours later a tsunami hit the coast that compounded the damage already done by the earthquake. The fishing industry along an extensive stretch of coast has been battered, leaving vessels and villages destroyed and with significant loss of life. On a visit to the devastated area, Subsecretary of Fisheries Pablo Galilea and Minister of Economy Juan Andrés Fontaine assessed for themselves the extent of the devastation and the minister stated that priority is being given to artisanal fishermen by replacing boats, engines and other materials, while other immediate aid is being channelled into backing credits for rebuilding lost capital. He also commented that some of the damaged fishing bays could be reconverted for tourism. Over 60% of Chile’s industrial fishing activity is in the Bío-Bío region, generating 12,000 direct and a

fACT fILE

and knowledge of the sea of Isla Mocha’s inhabitants prompted them to climb a hill and set up a

further 35,000 indirect jobs. In spite of the extensive and widespread damage, some of the artisanal fleet is already back at sea and Luis Burgos Velásquez, Talcahuano’s Maritime Governor, reported that these boats have been landing much needed catches. “Good fish, good sizes and high amounts of catch,” he said. Ten of the Bío-Bío region’s artisanal fishing bays were damaged in varying degrees

‘Houses, ships, boats and fishing gear were all lost. Now we just look at each other with nothing to do’ by the tsunami. Initial figures estimate around 5000 victims among fishermen nationwide, a third of whom are in the centralsouth region of Chile. These bays are Coliumo, Dichato, Tumbes, Candelaria, Moro, Rocuant, Isla Mocha, Isla Santa María, Llico, Tubul and part of Lebu. The mixed fishing bay of Coliumo, which had a fleet ranging from small launches to

■ Chile’s artisanal fleet supplies processors with up to 1,000,000t of raw material every year ■ The Association of Fishery Companies (ASIPES) in Chile had called for a $300m fleet investment even before the earthquake devastated the fishing industry Loss: Many people have lost homes, relatives and livelihoods in the disaster an 18m vessel for fishing anchovy and sardine, was completely devastated by the tsunami. “Houses, ships, boats and fishing gear were all lost. Now we just look at each other with nothing to do,” said Juan Carlos Garrido, Chairman of the Coliumo Fishermen’s Union. As well as the mainland, offshore islands have also been badly hit and, after being

evacuated by air, forest warden Alejandro Gajardo on the Isla Mocha on the border between Araucanía and the Bío-Bío Region commented: “Fifteen minutes after the earthquake, a wave hurtled 300 to 400 metres inland. This is why the fishermen in the area lost everything – boats, engines, everything.” The island covers 5000 hectares, but the experience

camp there before the tsunami hit. “Once there, they set up tents to spend the night and organised a soup kitchen”, he added. The two supply ships between the isle and mainland, as well as a row of ten houses were swallowed up by the tsunami, but there were only two casualties, who were last seen on the island’s beach. In the 8th Region’s coastal towns of Dichato and Coliumo, both of which are heavily


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May 2010

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of nine fish freezing plants remains in operation after the diaster

2

years before the authorities expect the fishing fleet to be back on its feet

Above: This trawler came to rest far above the highwater line after being swept away in the tidal wave Left: A group of fishermen from Dichato who lost everything in the tsunami beLow And Left: These boats were carried far inland. A number of boats that have survived were able to return to fishing within a week of the disaster, but have been hampered by extensive damage to landing facilities and shore processing plants

aid to rebuild fisheries, with the artisanal sector seen as a priority

arts to rebuild

dependent on fisheries and tourism, the tsunami destroyed vessels and flattened buildings. One fisherman told FNI that he had been keeping 12m pesos (€17,000) in savings in his house. “My wife had been telling me to put it in the bank,” he said. “But now the tsunami has swept away the house and the money as well,” he said. Another local added that a bag with a million pesos had been found next to the remains of a

destroyed fishing boat. The area around these two villages resembles a war zone and only pales in comparison to the desolation of Tomé’s artisanal fishing bay of Los Bagres where a rockfall triggered by the earthquake killed one fisherman’s two year old son as the houses built on the steep hillside around the bay collapsed. Most of Los Bagres’ fishing community has now shifted up the hill to a makeshift camp on

the town’s football pitch. The Association of Fishing Companies (ASIPES) has already called for a $300 minvestment to reconstruct processing companies and landing facilities. ASIPES represents a dozen companies that supply around two thirds of industrial and artisanal catches. ASIPES director Luis Moncova told FNI that of the 12 landing stations for industrial catches, six are in need of extensive repair, three are operational and three are virtually destroyed. “Four of fourteen fishmeal processing plants have been wiped out and will need up to 18 months to be rebuilt. Two have serious damage that will require up to six months work and six plants have only minor damage,” he said. “Only one of the nine freezing plants is operational at the moment. Five have sustained

serious damage and the others have minor damage,” he said and commented that the industrial fleet should be able to start fishing again by early April and the outlook is for the industry to be fully back on its feet within two years. Damage to Chile’s industrial sector has a direct bearing on the artisanal sector, which depends on this infrastructure to land its catches of sardine and anchovy. While the season opened on the 5 March, artisanal purse seiners that were not damaged by the tsunami currently are not able to rely on their main landing point, which is Talcahuano, although they can land smaller amounts in nearby Coronel and San Vicente. There is a close relationship between the artisanal and industrial sectors, with the artisanal catching fleet supplying proces-

sors with around as much as a million tonnes of raw material every year, amounting to 50% of the total input for the industry. The artisanal fleet relies on the industrial sector for landing, buying and processing its catch, as well as some fishermen working as crew in both areas. In Talcahuano the ASMAR shipyard has been extensively damaged and a spokesman said that shipyard had “serious structural damage entailing considerable costs.” The oceanographic research vessel Cabo de Hornos AGS-61, which was due to be launched in early March, is reported to have sustained 80% damage, while the yard has launched its own staged emergency clean-up plan that is initially aimed at restoring minimum operational capacity and a longer-term schedule of restructuring.


Fishing News International  

Articles by Ian Emmett published in Fishing News International

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