Banning trawling for cuttlefish catching triggers “large squid war” in Chile

SANTIAGO – Chile is in the midst of what has become to be known as the “cuttlefish or large squid war”, between industry and artisanal fishermen and the government’s intention of protection and conservation of the species.

The Chilean Congress recently passed a bill regulating the catch of the giant squid and specifically banning trawling, with perpetrators facing fines of some US$ 38.000.

However the bill still has to be promulgated by the Executive which has become extremely sensitive to opposition and protests from the artisanal fishermen in support of the bill and the industrial sector that condemns it.

Faced with this situation Chile’s Economy Minister, José Ramón Valente and the Fisheries Under Secretary Enrique Riquelme, announced that the Executive will appeal to the presidential veto if necessary and will not object to trawling as a method of fishing for the cephalopod.

“We will not object to the elimination of trawling as a fishing method for the giant squid, and in the coming days we will present a presidential veto, in addition to the hand line or jigging gear, the purse seine as a fishing gear, to be used by both the artisanal sector as industrial,” said the minister.

“In this way, the interests of workers in both sectors are safeguarded and we ensure the capture and sustainable production of this resource,” they added.

The minister also indicated that during the six months transition period after publication of the bill, the Under-Secretariat of Fisheries will prepare “a technical study on the impact of the current fishing gear on the capture of the giant squid, analyzing the quality of the resource in relation to each one of the fishing gears, the incidence of this in the human consumption and in the sustainability of the resource.”

In addition, he clarified that “once the new regime enters into force, the level of productivity of the process plants supplied by both sectors will be analyzed, as well as the volume of capture of the resource and the defense of the country’s interest before the international fishing organisms, in order to maintain the global quotas vis-à-vis the rest of the neighboring countries (…) evaluating an improvement of the regime if necessary.”

Finally, Valente urged the artisanal and industrial sectors to ”put aside violent protests and demonstrations,“ and stressed that the government ”has the doors open to carry out a fruitful dialogue.”–MercoPress