Illegal fishing into the southern Atlantic Ocean

Hundreds of fishing vessels from countries like China, South Korea and Spain exploit the lack of regulation and control in the southern Atlantic Ocean, identify environmental activists in Argentina.

Chinese fishing boats sail from © ISOPIX

Last month cited the interception of a Spanish fishing boat that illegal fishing was the headlines in Argentina. The Argentine coast guard saw the ship, without a licence, was active in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). That zone, which is also called the Argentine Sea, is called, extends to 370 kilometers from the coast. The Spanish ship had 320 tonnes of fish on board: Argentine hake, pollock, squid, and skate.

After payment of a fine of a million dollars could ship a few weeks later, again departing from the port of Comodoro Rivadavia.

Top of the iceberg

“The interception of this ship and other ships is just the tip of the iceberg of a very serious problem,” says Santiago Krapovickas, a biologist who works in Puerto Madryn in the south of the province of Patagonia. ‘Hundreds of vessels from different countries fish illegally along the border of the economic zone. Although there is no specific data available, it is clear that there is overfishing.’


The ships not only affect the marine life, but violate human rights. So does the crew, sometimes under circumstances in which slavery is called

The ships, which, according to the Argentine government, mainly originating from China, South Korea and Spain, making use of the fact that there are no regulations exist for the area outside the Argentine zone. They are not bound to quotas, seizoensquota or other restrictions.

The ships of stitches, however, settled the border with the Argentine Economic Zone. Argentina has in the east of the country, a coastline of 5,000 km. Along the border of the EEZ, the ships are intercepted. In march 2016, things get out of hand, when the coast guard, a Chinese ship sank and the crew from the ship got. The ship refused to respond to the call from the coast guard to stop.

Floating city

“The limits of the EEZ coincides with the edge of the Argentine continental shelf,” says Krapovickas. “In this area of the ocean as a result of the depth and the different sea currents, a lot of nutrients and a rich ecosystem to find. Fishing here is easy, especially on the Argentinean squid, a species where on the international market in great demand.’

Scientists have been warning for years of overfishing in this area, ” he says. But it is them until now, not managed to get the authorities in motion. The Argentine state will not take any action, while it is clear where the ships are located. Since 2012, the National Institute for fisheries research and Development (Inidep), via satellite imagery in the holes, from a headquarters in the port of Mar del Plata, 400 kilometres south of Buenos Aires.

“It looks like a floating city,” says computeringenieur Ezequiel Cozzoline, the director of the centre. “Around the 45th latitude south is so much activity that it sometimes seems as if there is a city larger than Over Aires floats.’

Between december and June there are on average between 270 and 300 ships in the area, ” he says. “In 80 to 90 percent of the cases, there are ships that are only on squid fishing. They do that at night, by the squid lure with artificial light.’

Leonardo Di Caprio

Specialist zeebescherming Milko Schvartzman, who through their own system, the activity in the area via satellite follows, claims that there are more than five hundred ships are present. “They fish mostly on squid, one of the pillars of the ecosystem in the sea, because squid are eaten by other species,” he says.

Schvartzman works for a project for the protection of the southern Atlantic Ocean, Oceans 5, an organization that is linked to a foundation of the American actor Leonardo Di Caprio. Oceans 5 states that the ships not only the marine influence, but also violate human rights. So does the crew sometimes, under certain circumstances, that slavery is to be called.

There are no studies known about the impact of this fishery on the legal fisheries in Argentina. The Argentine fishery is an important source of foreign currency, since most of the fish is exported. According to official figures, resulted in the export of seafood to the land of 1,978 billion usd in 2017, and 1,724 billion in 2016.


Schvartzman was one of the activists of European organisations in december at the ministerial conference of the world trade organisation (WTO) in Buenos Aires pressure exerted to award grants to purchase fishing practices that are harmful to the environment and small farmers.

This fits in with goal 14 of the Sustainable development Goals (SDG’s), which is about the sustainable use of oceans. Objective 14, ‘certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, prohibit’ and ‘subsidies to abolish that contribute to illegal, non-reported and unregulated fishing.’

Schvartzman says that all vessels within the EEZ, to fish, to be funded by China, South Korea, Spain or other countries that their own seas for years ago, have been fished out.

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular