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From the air: this is what the "floating city" looks like due to illegal fishing in the Argentine Sea


Clarín flew over the questioned mile 201, where the searchlights of hundreds of boats dazzle. Complaints and inaction of the Argentine Government.

The sun has not yet finished saying goodbye and the sunset slowly begins to peek over the horizon, causing a spectacle in itself.

It will not be the first nor the most surprising that will be seen during the flight.

A reddish light enters through the windows of the plane, tinting the microclimate and causing a common image of the time: the passengers approaching to take photos to portray the beauty from the sky.

Minutes later the captain speaks and welcomes you on board.

It is, nothing more and nothing less, the voice of the Argentine pilot, doctor and filmmaker Enrique Piñeyro, who organized a trip on his 

Solidaire plane,

to fly over for five hours something that is rarely talked about and that is not known either. no one takes charge:

unregulated fishing in the Argentine Sea.

Or put another way:

the open sea robbery of Argentine natural resources.

The matter, in addition to being complex, contains other problems.

Argentina has a strategic geopolitical location, but the reality is that the South Atlantic has some very visible difficulties.

Countries from the Asian continent, China in its vast majority, come to fish for our fauna.

That is not new.

What happens - and that is where the complaint is born - is that

they exceed the territorial limit.

More than 300 fishing vessels come in search of the

illex argentinus squid, a type that is highly coveted commercially by other countries

and is also a migratory species.

For this reason, between February and April it migrates to the adjacent area or better known as mile 201. There, fishing vessels take advantage of the time and obtain

up to 50 tons per day.

The Portuguese-flagged vessel "CALVAO" was fishing within the Argentine Exclusive Economic Zone (ZEEA) and was detained

The exclusive economic zone of Argentina extends, beyond the outer limit of the territorial sea,

up to a distance of 200 nautical miles

from the baselines established in article 1 of Law 23,968.

This represents a maritime space of 2,809,237 km2.

The lights from the ships form what at 43,000 feet appears to be

a floating city mounted on the sea.

All of them are located at mile 201 of the Argentine Sea and almost all of them belong to Chinese fishing vessels, despite the fact that ships from Taiwan, South Korea and, incredibly,


are also observed .

But, how is it possible that ships of different nationalities steal our fauna?

Why do they come to the country to take squid as their own?

The answer is unknown.

It is also for the Government, which has not dealt with the matter and does not have the resources -forgive the redundancy- to deal with the issue.

The official information maintains that to the patrolling that is carried out by sea is added an integral work of electronic surveillance called

the Coast Guard System


It allows the detection and monitoring of ships in different maritime spaces, even those that use resources or turn off the technical elements that allow them to be detected.

Satellite image of a "floating city" of boats fishing illegally in the Argentine Sea.

As Clarín announced a few weeks ago,

official sources estimated that due to lack of funds,

no overflight was carried out

in that critical area during the summer season, when more boats come to fish.

Perhaps the saddest thing of all is that this

disappointing postcard of the Argentine Sea has not been shown for the first time.

Piñeyro himself already commanded in 2021 -when the world was still surfing the disasters of the covid pandemic- this same flight to denounce the disaster caused by illegal fishing.

What can be seen from the air is a large number of vessels that are positioned on the outer limit with the aim of entering to fish for species within the Exclusive Economic Zone (ZEE).

How do they do that?

These pirate ships turn off their satellite tracking systems so as not to be monitored

and thus be able to violate Argentine waters and species.

If they turn off their radars there's no way the coast guard will know.

"The vessels that are declared have their AIS (Automatic Identification System) turned on, which does not coincide with this light show," the pilot declared.

Mariana Zuvic, president of the Commission of Maritime, Fluvial, Fishing and Port Interests of the National Congress, was one of the 120 crew members on the flight.

The legislator from the Civic Coalition has previously denounced the

enrichment of foreign ships

using Argentine resources.

Mariana Zuvic participated in the flight and announced that she will launch a campaign to make illegal fishing visible in the Argentine Sea

“Argentina has lived with its back to the sea for a long time and there are many things that are not known about what happens in the South Atlantic.

There is also illegal fishing in the Falkland Islands.

Right now there are more than 60 ships there, ”he emphasized minutes after the plane reached cruising speed.

Regarding the Chinese fishing boats, he explained that the "Asian giant has been advancing on very worrying issues about Argentina."

Zuvic took advantage of his time on the flight to also promote his new campaign against illegal fishing.

The initiative is called

Save the Argentine Sea

and seeks to raise awareness about the problem.

He seeks signatures to present a project in Congress. 


wanted to find out what measures the Government intends to take on this matter with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and the Nation, but there was no response.

Journalists, different NGOs, especially those that promote actions for climate change, influencers and

the United States ambassador to Argentina, Marc R. Stanley

, among others, also participated in the flight.

Solidaire passengers, surprised by the sighting of illegal ships

Everyone was surprised when the Boeing 787 began to descend at 43,000 feet, the equivalent of 13,000 meters in height.

What at first glance may seem like an approaching storm, are actually the fishing vessels:

their lights look like lightning through the clouds.

"It's a photo flight," joked one of the passengers.

Such luminosity is explained because the "jig boats" use reflectors to attract shrimp, which

approach the light believing it to be the sun.

From the air it is clear the difference between the fishing vessels that are inside the EEZ and those that are outside.

On the right wing of the plane was the ZEE and on the left side, at the height of Comodoro Rivadavia, the dome of illegal lights.

The plane was positioned on the -and imaginary- dividing line that has the Argentine Sea with its exclusive economic zone on one side and the unregulated fleet on the other.

The flight itinerary to sight hundreds of fishing vessels in the Argentine Sea.

“It is complex to think of a specific measure regarding what is happening at mile 201. I think that one of the issues that we can demand of the State is that it maintain bilateral negotiations

with the countries that come to fish.

Agreements that can be multilateral as well as bilateral,” said Nicole Becker, a young activist and founding member of Youth for the Climate.

Unregulated fishing is not the only problem: "Everything that happens there, such as catching squid when it is in a state of reproduction, can endanger the species and that directly affects the Argentine economy, jobs and

our sovereignty".

After several years of talks and negotiations, the Member States of the United Nations agreed on a

High Seas Treaty

that will seek to guarantee the protection and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas located outside national jurisdictions.

"Since it is not regulated, it is not clear how much is caught and of what species. What is known is that it is an impressive volume. It would be good for the State to contribute to advance this treaty," explained Pablo Borboroglu, a researcher of the CONICET.

Although it is difficult to determine the amount of money that is lost, different calculations speak of

millions of dollars.

In a year marked by elections, perhaps one of the candidates competing for the Presidency will be concerned with offering an alternative proposal to combat illegal fishing in the Argentine Sea, one of the most valuable resources in the country. 


look also

How China Grabs the World's Fish Supply

The return of the "floating city": once again more than 500 ships prey on the waters off Chubut

Source: clarin

All life articles on 2023-03-20

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