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Milko Schvartzman

Milko Schvartzman has been Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace International for 15 years.

Contributing at the UN Working Group on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction, Rio+20 Summit, and at the International Whaling Commission.

Actually working as freelancer for specific environmental projects.


Reply to the Falklands Islands Government about slavery and overfishing occurrences under its support and connivance
Friday, September 11, 2015

Falklands Government confirms its support to slavery

First of all I want to thank Mr. John Barton for his reply to my first article. The expression of different views is key for considering such a complex case as the South Atlantic humanitarian and environmental tragedy.

Nevertheless I think that for a more productive discussion, it will be positive for the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) to present reference and data to support its statements, because their reply to my previous article did not contain any.

The FIG mentions that it is responsible "for issuing licenses and regulating the fishery, and all vessels are inspected to ensure that they meet flag state standards and have the requisite life-saving appliances."..." There is only a small fleet (18) of Falkland flagged fishing vessels. These all operate to high standards as British vessels."

Here it is confirmed that there are two different standards for the fleet that operates under its licence. Amongst the despicable practice of double standards, there is also a triple standard, if we take into account the revenues that the FIG gets through giving logistics support to pirate vessels listed as IUU, with records of slavery on board, too.

Illegal fishing vessel operating from Falklands.
(Photo Credit: Mercopress)

The FIG mentions that they have a network of fisheries observers, but they forget to mention that they have only 7 (seven) observers for a fleet of 150 vessels, as they stated: "Falklands' 105 plus Illex fishing licences for a promising 2015 season"
Having 5% observers is far from a 'well managed' fishery.

As the crew on board FIG licenced vessels clearly states on video: "garbage and oil dumping happens daily and overfishing is destroying the food web" a few miles from leaving Port Stanley, making a mockery of the FIG surveillance force and fishing management:

Regarding the safety standards on the licenced fleet, just a look at the record of casualties of the vessels that operate under the FIG support and licence program, shows they don’t have the minimum maintenance nor safety measures required to sail on such rough seas. (see pictures attached from FIG supported fishing vessels).

The FIG Govt has stated on many occasions that crewmembers of its licenced or supported fishing vessels jump overboard into freezing waters "because they are homesick, or do not like the nature of the work they undertake" (Government Responds to Allegations of Modern-day slavery and Piracy in Falklands Fisheries)

There is not even a shred of compassion nor empathy to human life at such a statement.
I invite the FIG officials to say that to the families of the many fishermen that lost their lives at the Falklands waters, trying to escape the horrible conditions of life on board the vessels that fill the FIG budget.
I challenge the FIG to invite independent seamen’s welfare organizations to board licenced vessels, document living and working conditions aboard and safety features, and express their conclusions.

Illegal vessel Insung 705 in Malvinas. (Photo Credit: Solent Richard)

Mr Barton also says that 'The Falkland Islands Government would also take action to revoke vessels’ licenses in such a situation.'
This hasn't happened with many of the vessels, as the list below shows, vessels that committed serious infringements keep fishing and retain their licences as if nothing happened.

The Oyang vessels and their operations from Falklands/Malvinas

The Oyang 75 and Oyang 77 are among the nastiest illegal and pirate vessels on the Planet, both are forfeited to New Zealand, after being found guilty of illegal fishing. Alongside their fishery offences, the vessels stand accused of human rights offences and abuse of their crew.
(Slavery on NZ seas: rape, bonded labour and abuse widespread on fishing boats)
(Fishing charges for Oyang 75 officers point to industry wide failings)

Sajo-Oyang vessels have being caught violating many fisheries Conventions and Agreements, like CCAMLR and the US NMFS, they have been condemned for their lack of safety procedures, and have been expelled from different parts of the world. Now they operate under endorsement from the FIG, plundering the South Atlantic.

Both of the Oyang vessel are regularly assisted by the FIG and its port, as the FIG and satellite images confirm.

Satellite image of the Oyang 75 leaving Malvinas.

FIG is giving support to many flag of convenience reefer and IUU fishing vessels, including the Oyang vessels, through the use of Port Stanley/Berkley Sound, allowing transshipment at sea in its waters, and providing supplies and logistics.

The money that Uruguay, the FIG and the United Kingdom are getting through supporting slavery and ocean plunder comes tainted with the blood of those crewmembers driven to desperate deaths every year on the South Atlantic.

Illegal fishing vessel operating from Falklands.
(Photo Credit: Mercopress)

There was an effort in cooperation for conservation and regulate the fisheries through the South Atlantic Fisheries Commission which was dissolved.
Without getting into the details of both the Argentinian and UK governments’ accusations of non compliance, and taking into account that Argentina fisheries are far from being an example of high standards, it is still much more regulated and transparent than fishery management under the Falklands Administration. The FIG doesn't have enough observers on board, give licences for fishing outside its meant controlled waters, and doesn't even make public its list of licenced vessels, nor report their high record of slavery and safety related casualties.

If an RFMO is to be created for the South Atlantic, the first step must be to stop giving support to piracy, slavery and IUU fishing vessels in the area. These practices are making the South West Atlantic a horrendous example of plunder and murder.

List of some incidents involving overfishing, safety, and slavery working conditions in the fishing fleet operating from the Falkland Islands:

List of Incidents PDF

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