Latin America

The scourge of illegal fishing in South America

South American coastlines are repeatedly plagued by illegal fishing vessels, often from China. Experts say regional cooperation is the key to mitigation

fishing Chinese squid trawler sailing next to Argentina. Photo: Michael Runkel/Alamy
Squid trawler sailing next to Stanley, capital of the Malvinas. Image for illustrative purposes only. Photo: Michael Runkel/Alamy

South America’s marine coastline is home to a variety of different ecosystems and is protected by several jurisdictions and environmental laws. However, there is one thing all areas have in common, especially on the continent’s Pacific side: the increasing threat of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, often carried by Chinese fleets trespassing in the territorial waters of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador. 

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), this form of fishing “remains one of the greatest threats” for countries to manage fisheries sustainably and conserve their already endangered marine biodiversity. Alerting to the risk...

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