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Chile protects 98% of its Exclusive Economic Zone from bottom trawling

The Undersecretariat for Fisheries and Aquaculture together with Oceana Chile announced this morning the freezing of fishing footprint for common hake and demersal crustacean fisheries.

Publicado: 23-ene-2018

This announcement was made by the Undersecretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr. Pablo Berazaluce and the Executive Director of Oceana Chile, Mrs. Liesbeth van der Meer. It means that 98% of Chilean Exclusive Economic Zone will be protected from bottom trawling.

Pablo Berazaluce indicated that President Bachelete’s Government has clearly shown Chile´s commitment with improving sustainability standards. In this sense, work done with Civil Social Organizations with whom we share the mission of harmonizing economic activities with environment protection is essential.

The national authority added that “the fishing footprint was defined based on historical operation of the fleet of both fisheries–common hake and demersal crustacean– in a period of 15 to 16 years. This measure does not affect economic activities or employment sources.”

In 2016, Oceana presented a proposal to eliminate trawl fishing in Chile, which included the results of one of its own studies that showed that each year 3,905 square km of marine surface were affected by this fishing gear. It also showed the expansion of trawlers to areas never devastated before. 554 square km were affected annually equivalent to large populated areas of the Metropolitan Region such as Pirque and Puente Alto together.

Liesbeth van der Meer celebrated this measure stating that “prohibiting the expansion of bottom trawling is a major step towards the protection of oceans. This will keep fleets targeting crustacean and hake from trawling new areas”. She added that “freezing trawling fishing footprint is carried out after a study and socialization process led by the Undersecretariat for Fisheries and Aquaculture which invited the Management Committees, demonstrating the significance of these tools and the dialogue among non-government organizations, the government, the industry and small-scale fisheries”, said Executive Director.

It is important to remember that the first big step to end bottom trawling was taken in 2015 by prohibiting its operation in 117 Chilean seamounts, which include unique ecosystems with corals, deep and cold water sponges, and also important species such as tunas and sharks.

“This measure seeks to ensure sustainable catch of fisheries resources and to encourage selective fishing methods”, declared Van der Meer. Undersecretary Berazaluce added that “Subpesca will regulate fishing gears among regions in which common hake and demersal crustacean fisheries operate, outside the Small-scale Reserve Area”.

Valeska Montes, responsible for WWF Chile Fisheries expressed that “WWF Chile appreciates this initiative since we believe is very important at a time in which main fisheries affected, such as common hake, are being overexploited. We also believe that this is a sign of progress to protect important biological areas and as part of the fisheries sector in Chile, we must join the path to sustainability.”