The Undersecretary for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Pablo Berazaluce and executive director for Oceana Chile, Liesbeth van der Meer, made a joint announcement about the decision to protect 98% of Chile’s Exclusive Economic Zone from bottom trawling.
In his speech, the Undersecretary for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Pablo Berazaluce, said that “the Government of President Michelle Bachelet has clearly demonstrated its commitment to improve sustainability standards. In this sense, the work being done with civil society organizations, with who we share the mission of balancing economic activities and environmental protection, is essential”.
The national authority added that “the fishing footprint was determined based on the operation of the fleet of both fisheries –the common hake and demersal crustaceans—within a period of 16 years. This measure does not impact economic activity, and it does not affect sources of employment”.
In 2016, Oceana submitted a proposal to gradually eliminate bottom trawling in Chile and included the results of an assessment conducted by the NGO that showed that 3,905 km2 of marine surface were impacted by this fishing technique each year. In addition, it also showed the expansion of bottom trawlers to areas that had never been devastated and concluded that 554 km2 were annually trawled, which is equivalent to the size of communes Pirque and Puente Alto.
Liesbeth van der Meer, executive director of Oceana Chile, celebrated this measure highlighting that “banning the expansion of bottom trawling is a great step toward the protection of the ocean, by preventing fleets that catch demersal crustacean and hake from trawling new areas”. She added that “freezing the trawling footprint was declared after an assessment and socialization process headed by the Undersecretary for Fisheries and Aquaculture which involved a presentation before the Management Committees, which demonstrates the importance of these tools and the communication between non-government organizations, the government, the industry and artisanal fishery”, said van der Meer.
It should be noted that the first big step to ban bottom trawling was taken in 2015, when this activity was forbidden all 117 seamounts existing in Chilean waters, which are home to unique ecosystems that include deep sea and cold-water corals and sponge beds, and important species such as tuna fish and sharks.
“This measure aims to ensure the sustainable catch of fishing resources and to motivate selective fishing methods”, said van der Meer, to which the Undersecretary added that “Subpesca will regulate fishing gear in regions in which South Pacific hake and demersal crustacean fisheries operate, outside the Artisanal Reservation Area”.