FALKLAND ISLANDS GOVERNMENT RESPONDS TO ALLEGATIONS OF MODERN-DAY SLAVERY AND PIRACY
In an interview with Página 12 on 1st June 2015, former Greenpeace employee Milko Schvartzman accused the Falkland Islands Government of allowing the Islands fishery to operate under conditions likened to modern-day slavery and to piracy. Portfolio-holder for Natural Resources, MLA Phyl Rendell MBE, has issued the following response:
We utterly refute Milko Schvartzman’s remarks in his interview with Diego Martínez on 1 June 2015, and the inference that the Falkland Islands Government promotes a fisheries industry based on modern-day slavery and on piracy. 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 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 the Falkland Islands Government 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.