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« เมื่อ: กุมภาพันธ์ 10, 2010, 05:07:38 AM »

Disappearing hake fishery alarms fishers

ARGENTINA
Wednesday, February 10, 2010, 03:20 (GMT + 9)

The governor assured that the findings of a survey conducted by the National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development (INIDEP) will be revealed soon, in a bid to curb the sector's growing alarm over the shortage of hake common (Merluccius hubbsi) in the Santa Cruz fishing-ground.

The authorities and the fishing industry of the Patagonia province hope the INIDEP informs that the decrease of the resource is due to “a biological question” or to another factor.

"We will have that study in approximately 15 days,” said the Santa Cruz governor, Daniel Peralta.

Peralta mentioned that the greatest problem is occurring in hake’s “main export market”: Spain. That market “is suffering from the worst crisis in its history,” he said in declarations to El Periodico Austral.

It is vital to go “looking for alternatives” to guarantee the sustainability of the fishery, Peralta also commented.

“There are sectors that maintain that the fish-export model is finished, but we have to see the transition to which other models. We are prepared to contribute provincial effort, but we need companies to maintain serious social responsibility as well as [have] the labour sectors along to articulate jointly with the political authorities,” he indicated.

The Santa Cruz Government and the fishing sector also ask that INIDEP tell them “concretely” if the submarine seismic survey undertaken by the oil company Pan American Energy brought about the fall in the hake volume, as the fishers of the yellow fleet of Paula Creek contend.

On the issue, Fernando Villarreal, vice-president of Offshore Operations of Pan American Energy, assured that the means used “do not interfere with the fisheries activity.”

The technology employed by the seismographic ship Western Patriot is “innocuous” to the marine environment, “since it is used around the world, in places where fishing activity is intense and coexists with that of oil,” the executive highlighted.

In addition, he noted that before initiating the study, the company presented the environmental impact studies to the governments of Santa Cruz and Chubut that were required of them.

“The Subsecretariat of Fisheries of Santa Cruz requested a specific measure from us as far as the gulf; that we conduct a fisheries monitoring before, during and subsequent to the survey. We did so in 10 stations and compared it to the seismic one we did within the ban zone,” he added Villarreal.

“We measured biomass, biodiversity and other physical parameters like temperature and salinity of the water,” he continued.

Those studies were conducted by scientists of the company and supervised by a Santa Cruz inspector.

The preliminary results indicate that “there are no significant variations of biomass neither before, nor during, nor after the seismic [activity],” added Villarreal.

“We are working on structural interpretations” and “in mid-April we will have the results, but there is a prospectus to drill in the second half of 2011 or early 2012,” he declared.

Upon being consulted on the marine causes of the drastic disappearance of hake and other species, the executive thought that it will not be easy to provide an answer, since other factors also must be considered, like the climate and the temperature of the water, among others.

By Analia Murias
editorial@fis.com
www.fis.com

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