GOVERNMENT RESPONDS TO ALLEGATIONS OF MODERN-DAY SLAVERY AND PIRACY IN FALKLANDS FISHERIES
We utterly refute Milko Schvartzman’s remarks in his interview with Diego Martínez on 1 June 2015. The safety and human rights of workers in Falkland Islands waters is of utmost importance. We have rigorous protocols in place to ensure workers safety and any company found breaking the law will be prosecuted. The Falkland Islands have a long history of responsible environmental stewardship, and we pride ourselves on protecting and safeguarding our unique environment and the natural resources therein.
The Falkland Islands Government (FIG) has responsibility for issuing licenses and regulating the fishery, and all vessels are inspected to ensure that they meet flag state standards and have the requisite life-saving appliances. We also have a network of fisheries observers, and a proportion of vessels will have observers onboard during the fisheries season.
There have been, sadly, cases where crewmen have left their vessels, but in these cases it is often because they are homesick, or do not like the nature of the work they undertake. There are very few cases of maltreatment of crew and in those circumstances the perpetrators should be prosecuted, and FIG has prosecuted perpetrators in the past. The Falkland Islands Government would also take action to revoke vessels’ licenses in such a situation.
Until 2005, there was bilateral fisheries co-operation between Argentina and the Falkland Islands, which facilitated research, exchanged data and stock management. This was particularly relevant to the Illex squid resource which is the biggest fishery and largest marine living resource in the Southwest Atlantic. Argentina unilaterally withdrew from that agreement to the detriment of both Falklands and Argentine fisheries. Mr Schvartzman’s portrayal of the Falkland Islands fisheries industry is skewed, alarmist, and represents yet another example of efforts to damage the Falklands economy.
The Hon. Phyl Rendell MBE
Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands
Portfolio Holder for Natural Resources