Possible implementation of the unified oceanic tie (type of longline) in the Galapagos raises questions
December 23, 2020 – 06h00
There are photos of sea lions hooked with hooks that circulate on social networks, but the Ministry of the Environment affirms that it cannot be guaranteed that it is the product of longlines. Courtesy
To alleviate the current economic crisis that was deepened by the pandemic, part of the artisanal fishing sector of Galapagos asked the country’s environmental authorities to continue with the studies and analyze the implementation of the unified ocean tie (EOU) in the archipelago.
This surface longline type fishing system (a line with several hooks), was part of a fishing gear research project led by the Public Institute for Aquaculture and Fisheries Research (IPIAP), approved by the Government Council of Galapagos and supervised by the National Park Directorate in 2016, and its first phase was completed.
The project studied the level of incidental fishing of two gears: Depth Ocean Tie (EOP) and the EOU, with the primary difference being the depth at which the gear operates, considering the hypothesis that deeper leads to less incidence of non-target species.
However, the results showed that the EOP had an incidence of 8.5% and the EOU of 5.2%, which is why the latter was recommended by the IPIAP to continue with its study, indicates the Ministry of the Environment and Water ( MAAE).
According to the MAAE, the use of the EOU would allow fishermen to catch better quality fish to access better marketing options and higher economic income.
“This well-regulated gear represents a benefit for the management of the marine reserve’s fishing resources, because it would decongest the coasts, releasing the pressure on resources such as lobster, shrimp, sea cucumber, brujo and camotillo,” says the entity.
However, César Peñaherrera, PhD in Marine Sciences and coordinator of Migramar, affirms that the approval of the use of the EOU would have serious consequences for iconic species of the islands.
It indicates that the proposal for the use of this gear was already known several years ago, although the idea was to carry one or two hooks, but then the number was increased and it became “a longline”, increasing the conflict with non-target species. “When you have 40 hooks you can’t constantly check the line to prevent species like turtles, sharks, birds, sea lions from falling victim,” he says.
On December 21, in Puerto Egas, Galapagos, a sea lion was observed with a hook in its mouth. Photo: Courtesy
In addition, he questions the percentage of bycatch handled by the MAAE with respect to the EOU: “In pristine areas like Galapagos, there is going to be a fairly high bycatch. The studies that have been carried out so far are not in depth.”
Although the MAAE states that “there is no parameter” to determine what percentage of incidental fishing can be considered high, medium or low, and “less within a protected area with a marine reserve with different uses”.
Peñaherrera also affirms that the argument of the economic crisis cannot be used, since the approval of the EOU is a request that has existed for several years: “There are 1,200 (artisan) fishermen registered in Galapagos, but only 50% are active . Fishing in the economic part is not so important. We are not saying that fisheries development is not supported, but the costs must be measured ”.
If the pressure inside the reserve increases, according to Peñaherrera, something similar to that of the sea cucumber could happen: “The fisherman pushed so much for the resource, aggressively many times, that the population collapsed.”
For the implementation of the EOU, the second phase of the 2016 project needs to be completed, which is pending. In this stage, the use of low gear consists of a control methodology that would analyze not only the biological benefits of the use, but also the socioeconomic one.
But Peñaherrera says that longline is already being used, illegally, within the reserve. In fact, there are photos of sea lions hooked with hooks circulating on social networks.
“It is true that we have found sea lions with hooks, but we cannot affirm that it is longline, because there is gear allowed within the reserve that uses that type of hook and nylon,” says MAAE.
However, he affirms that his technical staff have found longlines adrift and within artisanal fishing vessels. “It is not that common, but they have been found. The gear is retained and the administrative processes are started.”
Read the entire article by Ricardo Zambrano at bit.ly/1223eluniverso
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