Falklands : Illex Season Late This Year
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 04.04.2009 (Article Archived on 18.04.2009)
There has been a late start to the current Illex season. Concern is also mounting at the prospects for licence revenue for the season. Director of Fisheries, John Barton (JB) reported on the latest on the Illex fishery.
ILLEX SEASON LATE THIS YEAR
A Report for FIRS by Layla Crowie (LC) and Stacey Bragger (SB)
LC: There has been a late start to the current Illex season. Concern is also mounting at the prospects for licence revenue for the season. Director of Fisheries, John Barton (JB) reported on the latest on the Illex fishery.
JB: Weíve got a very late start to the Illex Fishery. In fact, itís becoming something of a record late start. Normally there is a start in late February, mainly by about the second week of March. But this year vessels have been quite a long way north on the high seas and they are really only starting to come into the zone at the moment. So the fact that they are coming in now is something of a relief although it still remains to be seen whether thereís much Illex out there. All the Illex seems to have been held fairly well north because of the Oceanography both in our zone and in the Argentine Zone. Itís taken a long time for the Illex to move this far south but there are some signs that is happening now so hopefully we will get a few more jiggers coming in to take up licences.
SB: As a casual observation it does appear that there havenít been that many jiggers here, which might be a concern as well. Was it due to the late start of the season?
JB: Yes. The number of jiggers that made applications was just over 40, which is similar to the last year or two at the numbers that have completed the arrangements for payment of fees is somewhat lower than that and, again, with the late season, that is a bit of a concern. If we eventually manage to get most of those vessels in then we wonít be too far away from some recent years but if a number of vessels donít take up those licences then certainly Illex revenue will be down a little bit.
SB: The Companies taking up licences Ė how much revenue is that going to amount to looking at the moment?
JB: These days the Illex fishery has reduced very substantially from peak years when we had 125 licences. And, with the number of licences we have had in the last few years, Illex has been bringing in something in the order of maybe £4 to £6 Million. Certainly in the years when we had 40 licences, we were down to £4Million from the Illex fishery. This year, if we get all the licence Ė or all the folk who made licence applications coming in Ė we would be around that mark. At the moment, on the ones who are paying deposits and that sort of thing, we would be down probably closer to £2 Million from the Illex fishery.
SB: Are you confident that there will be £4 or £5 Million?
JB: I think it remains to be seen. Just forget some quite strong catches in the zone from here on in then I think the other customers would be encouraged to come in and pick up some other interest. Obviously if catches are mediocre or a bit variable then I think that getting all those folk to take up licences will be rather more difficult.
SB: If catches arenít great is there the possibility of refunds looming on the horizon?
JB: There is still a long way to go, really. There are still 2.5 months of the Illex season to run so if the Squid come south in reasonable numbers there could be quite reasonable catches. We will just see where that goes first.
LC: John Barton also reported on the other fisheries.
JB: On the other main fisheries at the moment the Loligo Fishery is going OK but itís certainly down a bit on 2008. By the end of March 2008 about 19,000 tonnes of Loligo had been caught whereas this year it is looking like by the end of March about 10 Ė 11,000 tonnes will have been caught so thatís down quite a bit on 2008. But that fishery is still going OK and it still has a few weeks to run. And, of course there is a second Loligo season.
In finfish things are perhaps a bit more positive. There have been quite high catches of Rock Cod and also itís been a very good year for Hoki. Catches of Hoki are up over 6,000 tonnes, which is the highest catch for this point in the year out of the last 5 years.