Food Security – Fish in the south Atlantic

Last week Brazil’s new Defence Minister was proclaiming the need for closer ties amongst the UNASUR nations and South Africa to ensure that the south Atlantic turned into some kind of ‘peace zone’ under the control of the continents that border it.

Celso Amorim stated, ” The south Atlantic and its resources is a zone we share with African countries, and we want to make sure it remains an area of peace to the benefit of our peoples …. and it is the duty of the State to watch over the borders and protect our natural resources.”

This week comes a tale from the scientific experts at the Falkland Islands’ Fishery Department that the stocks of Southern Blue Whiting are so low that the fishery has become uncommercial. All as a result of Argentina’s lack of control over its fishing industry.

A little research with regard to fish stocks in the south Atlantic indicate that the demise of the Southern Blue Whiting is not an exceptional case however. Indeed the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization currently lists species that are either ‘Fully Exploited’, ‘Overexploited’ or ‘Depleted’.

Regions 41 and 47 cover the south Atlantic and the record reads –

Southwest Atlantic (FAO area 41)

Argentine Hake (Merluccius hubbsi) – Overexploited to depleted

Main fishing countries = Argentina, Uruguay

Southern Blue Whiting (Micromesistius australis) – Fully exploited to over exploited

Main fishing countries = Argentina, Japan, Chile

Argentina Croaker (Umbrina canosai) – Moderately exploited to overexploited

Main fishing countries = Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina

Whitemouth Croaker (Micropogonias furnieri) – Moderately exploited to overexploited

Main fishing countries = Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina

Striped Weakfish (Cynoscion striatus) – Moderately exploited to overexploited

Main fishing countries = Argentina, Uruguay

Brazilian Sardinella (Sardinella brasiliensis) – Overexploited

Main fishing countries = Brazil

Other shrimps – Fully exploited to over exploited

Main fishing countries = Argentina

Southeast Atlantic (FAO area 47)

Cape hakes (Merluccius capensis M. paradox) – Fully exploited to overexploited

Main fishing countries = Namibia, South Africa

Geelbeck Croaker (Atractoscion aequidens) – Depleted

Main fishing countries = South Africa

Red Steenbras (Petrus rupestris) – Depleted

Main fishing countries = South Africa

Kingklip (Genypterus capensis) – Overexploited

Main fishing countries = Namibia, South Africa

Bigeye Tuna (Thunnus obesus) – Overexploited

Main fishing countries = China, Taiwan, Japan

Southern Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) – Overexploited

Main fishing countries = Japan, China, Taiwan

Cunene Horse Mackerel (Trachurus trecae) – Overexploited

Main fishing countries = Angola

Cape Rock Lobster (Jasus lalandii) – Overexploited or recovering from depletion

Main fishing countries = South Africa, Namibia

Southern Spiny Lobster (Palinurus gilchristi) – Overexploited

Main fishing countries = South Africa

Perlemoen Abalone (Haliotis midae) – Overexploited

Main fishing countries = South Africa

Cape Hope Squid (Loligo reynaudi) – Fully exploited to over exploited

Main fishing countries = South Africa

Based on these figures it would seem that allowing UNASUR and the south African nations to take charge of the south Atlantic and its resources would be a little like putting the asylum into the care of the residents!

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