Loligo squid fishing area
Falklands fleet negotiates to reduce the price increase of fishing licenses to 5%
Wednesday, January 15, 2020, 00:00 (GMT + 9)
Galician fishing partners resort to the Government's decision to increase rates by 50% // Shipowners recognize that the chances of success "are slim"
The local partners of the Galician fisheries that catch Loligo squid in the Falklands have started talks with the Government to try to cut the expected increase in the price of fishing licenses for this year. The controversial measure proposed a 50% increase in the rates of the so-called individual transferable quotas (ITQs), which caused the anger and "disbelief" of a sector that warned of the economic consequences for the shipowners.
The first to raise his voice was the FIFCA - Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association, which is precisely the one that now initiates talks with the Legislative Assembly (the body that directs the archipelago) to reduce the rise the maximum possible. In addition to presenting the consequences of the agreed increase through data and studies, the association is committed to repating the 2019 rate, that is, leaving the increase at only 5%.
The Falkland Government announced the decision last November in a document that raised the same increase in the case of Patagonian toothfish, while proposing reductions for the rays (20%) and fish (5%). The legislator (figure equivalent to that of a minister) in charge of the Fisheries area, Teslyn Barkman, recalled that "the rates are reviewed annually and can be reduced if necessary."
Although Barkman was referring to the years after 2020, FIFCA does not want to miss the opportunity to review the rates this year. In fact, a few days after the announcement the association denounced that the rise would involve an additional cost of almost 4 million pounds for the 16 trawlers that make up the squid fleet: about EUR 4.7 million at the current exchange rate.
Sources of the Galician shipowners say that the reduction of that 50% is not impossible, but they recognize that the odds are slim due to the firm decision of the Falkland Government. However, they also acknowledge that investments have already been halted dry due to the uncertainty that accompanies the process of leaving the United Kingdom from the European Union (the Falkland Islands are under the umbrella of the British crown as overseas territory), and this measure only increases it.
Currently, two large trawlers are being built for this fishing ground in the facilities of Nodosa Shipyard (the Montelourido, for Rampesca, and the Falcon, for Pescapuerta), but there are at least five more valued projects at 100 million euros waiting for know the result of Brexit and the reform of the Falkland fisheries policy.
And it is that in addition to the increase in ITQ rates, the island government has also promoted joint ventures formed by local firms and Galician fisheries. Thus, in order to be able to renew the permits in advance in 2021 (otherwise they would expire in 2031), the shareholding of these joint ventures must fall at least 51% in Falkland hands. A process that will extend the duration of ITQs by 15 years (until 2046) and in which Galician ship owners are already working.
Author: Adrián Amoedo / La Opinion (Only in Spanish)