Venezuela Bans Controversial "Trawl" Fishing
Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009
by Erik Sperling
March 17th 2009
Small-scale Venezuelan fishers rejoiced on Sunday as a Venezuelan government ban on trawling, also known as drag fishing, went into effect.
"Our parents' spirits are watching and celebrating together with us – they've finally eliminated the evil practice that destroyed our marine costs," declared Diomidio Hernandez, a representative of fishermen of the coastal state of Sucre.
The measure, announced a day earlier by Agriculture minister Elias Jaua during President Hugo Chavez's weekly television broadcast, is intended to protect coastal biodiversity and increase production by small fishermen, who have petitioned governments to outlaw the technique for decades.
"Tomorrow hundreds of thousands of fishermen and women will set out to fish for the food that our people need, protein for our children," Jaua said.
During the program, President Chavez pointed out that small-scale fishermen provide 70 percent of the country's fish, while the trawlers mostly caught shrimp for export.
Chavez announced that the government will invest 70 million bolivars (US$ 32 million) to convert or decommission trawling boats, as well as the development of fish processing plants. 30 trawling ships will be expropriated, Chavez said, due to the refusal of their owners to cooperate with the plans to adapt the boats to uses compliant with the new fishing regulations.
A representative from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Francisco Arias, applauded Venezuela's efforts, noting that the ban on trawling is "established in what we call the 'code of responsible fishing conduct,' and it may be one of the most difficult alternatives for governments to take." Arias suggested that the FAO might help study the impact of the new law, "which we believe will be very positive economically for the fishing industry."
Speaking directly to workers in the fishing industry, President Chavez explained the government's plans to "create socialist production companies where you will have a better quality of life."
"You will be your own bosses and your work will be for the well being of the nation, not to enrich some exploitative capitalist."