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The Chinese giant squid fleet operating on the border of Peru’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) causes the country an annual loss of more than $85 million, which is mostly borne by artisanal fishermen, the head of a Peruvian trade group said.

Alfonso Miranda Eyzaguirre, president of the giant squid group Calamasur, told Undercurrent News that some 200 foreign vessels, most of them believed to be Chinese are currently fishing on the border of Peru’s EEZ near the regions of Ica and Arequipa.

Chinese fleet continues to threaten Peru's giant squid fishery, group alleges

Credit: Calamasur

Miranda warned that the fleet is not being adequately monitored by the Peruvian government.

“We hope that as of Jan.1, foreign flag fishing vessels that carry out fishing activities of transzonal hydrobiological resources (such as squid) on the high seas and that enter Peruvian ports, will have the Satellite Tracking System – SISESAT, of the ministry of production. The tracking system should be operational and will transmit to the control center their positioning of the last six months before their entry report, as established by Supreme Decree 016-2020-Produce,” he said in a statement.

Chinese fleet continues to threaten Peru's giant squid fishery, group alleges

Alfonso Miranda, Lima, February 2018

According to reports, very few foreign giant squid fishing boats have installed the required satellite device.

“We will keep an eye on this final deadline as we have been calling for control to be implemented for years. We cannot wait another day,” said Miranda.

Meanwhile, the annual meeting of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO), which regulates giant squid fishing in international waters outside the 200-mile limit, will take place beginning on Jan. 21.

Calamasur will present proposals to the body to strengthen control over foreign fleets that are subsidized and are allegedly repeat offenders.

“We are confident that this time the Peruvian government will support these proposals and will not allow this giant fleet to continue to be a threat to coastal countries like Peru, Chile, and Ecuador. We are going to coordinate with the three governments to have a common position,” Miranda said.

Political crisis

Over the last month, Peru endured a political crisis, which led to the change of three heads of state within a week.

Francisco Sagasti was sworn in as Peru’s new interim president in mid-November, following the impeachment of president Martin Vizcarra due to bribery allegations and protests that brought down another acting president, Manuel Merino.

Peru is faced with navigating both the pandemic and an ensuing economic slump while steering the country through a general election due in April, the Economist pointed out.

However, the political situation has not yet directly impacted the fishing sector, according to industry sources.

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