New Oceanosanos report. Montevideo, March 27th, 2019.
Oceanosanos organization reveals new information on the situation in the country’s main port.
In less than two months, foreign fishing vessels have already unloaded three deceased crew members in the Port of Montevideo. Two of these vessels are repeat offenders.
According to official information, between January 23rd and March 11th, the vessels Yun Mao No. 168, OuYa 17, y Fu Chian unloaded three deceased crew members in the Port of Montevideo (1).
January 23rd was the second time that the Chinese fishing boat Yun Mao No. 168 has brought a dead crew member to port – the first time was in 2017, when Yun Mao No.168’s captain refused to request help and evacuate a crew member who suffered from a toothache, which lasted ten days and resulted in the death of the crew member (2).
The Taiwanese Fu Chian vessel is a repeat offender as well – in 2017, a 25 year old crew member died on board after expressing difficulty in breathing and fainting. He was also transferred to Montevideo but the result of the autopsy is unknown (3).
In the case of the crew member named Zais, who died on board OuYa 17 of an acute pulmonary edema, the Indonesian Embassy had to intervene so that the body could be sent with his family to his country, preventing the Agency which manages the crew from sending him to cremate in Uruguay (4).
The Chinese fishing vessels lead the global ranking of Slavery in the Fishing Industry:
China also leads the global ranking in Illegal Fishing, developed in February this year by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime:
According to official information revealed in 2018 by the Ministry of Defense, since 2015, foreign fishing vessels had been unloading one dead body per month in the Port of Montevideo.
In 2013, Uruguay ratified the FAO-UN Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.
In 2017 this agreement was regulated through Decree No. 323, creating the Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Illegal Fishing. This Commission is composed of a representative of the Ministerio de Ganadería, Agricultura y Pesca (Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries), the Ministerio de Transporte y Obras Públicas (Ministry of Transport and Public Works), Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and of Ministerio de Defensa (Ministry of Defense).
The Commission has never had a meeting.
Lack of control
The activities of foreign fishing vessels in the capital city’s port are carried out with little to no control: in 2018, only 10% of the vessels were inspected – and not a single Chinese fishing vessel was examined, according to DINARA (Dirección Nacional de Recursos Acuáticos).
It is the State’s resposibility to reject boats with illegal fishing records, as well as those that can not justify the origin of their capture. These boats present health risks, unsafe navigation, and / or employ slave labor.
Oceanosanos has expressed this problem during a whole year of meetings with different government authorities, with the exception of the Presidency and the Parliament Human Rights Commission, from whom we have not received a response.
We understand that there are organizations that intend to face the problem, but there has not yet been political will to comply with international commitments, conserve our sea, avoid human rights abuses, or protect the local fishing industry from unfair competition from these unregulated fleets.
Taking all of this context into account, we are concerned about the implications that a Chinese port can have for our country.
According to the FAO (United Nations):
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing remains one of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems as a result of its powerful capacity to undermine national and regional efforts towards sustainable fisheries management, as well as sustainable initiatives aimed at the conservation of marine biodiversity. IUU fishing takes advantage of corruption in administrations and exploits shortcomings in management regimes, especially in developing countries that lack the capacity and resources to implement effective monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) initiatives. IUU fishing exists in all types and sizes of fisheries, and it occurs both on the high seas and in areas under national jurisdiction. It affects all aspects and stages of the capture and use of fish and, on occasion, may be associated with organized crime. The fishery resources available to fishers are eliminated by IUU fishing, which can lead to the collapse of local fisheries. Small-scale fisheries in developing countries are particularly vulnerable to this situation. Products derived from IUU fishing can be introduced into foreign commercial markets, thus drowning local food supplies. Consequently, IUU fishing is a threat to subsistence, it aggravates poverty and increases food insecurity.
(1)Administración Nacional de Puertos. http://www.anp.com.uy