Mexico Starts Digitalization to Combat Illegal Fishing
In an effort to combat illegal fishing and prevent the falsification of documents and possible acts of corruption, Mexican authorities have decided to launch commercial electronic payments for the fishing industry.
The National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (CONAPESCA) has announced the measure to increase the productivity of the country's fishing sector, which could benefit more than 300,000 fishers. The permit is granted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) through CONAPESCA to individuals and companies that carry out the fishing activities indicated in the General Law of Sustainable Fishing and Aquaculture.
The measurement applies to all fishing vessels throughout the country as the permit is valid for up to five years and interested parties can engage in commercial fishing activities lawfully. In addition, CONAPESCA seeks to reduce response times by digitalizing procedures since fishers obtain their permits immediately via e-mail. As previously reported by MBN, Alejandro Castillo, Associate Director of Conservation and Sustainable Fisheries at Pronatura Noroeste, indicates that a comprehensive strategy to combat illegal fishing is required in the country.
Currently, the fishing industry secures almost 1,500,000 tons of fish. However, about 40 percent is obtained from illegal fishing, causing annual losses of more than MX$8 billion (US$ 399 million), estimated Humberto Becerra Batista, president of the National Chamber of the Fishing and Aquaculture Industry (CANAINPESCA). CONAPESCA has implemented a monitoring and intelligence system that allows following registered vessels through the satellite tracking devices (GPS) of each ship. Nevertheless, illegal fishing is still a common practice in Mexico, primarily due to the complications of surveillance due to the vast geographic territory of the region.
Nevertheless, fishermen's response has been positive since they also have to prepare their fishing permit application in the system, sign and deliver the documentation to the nearest office. Previously, the institution sent the permit in person, which delayed the sector's activities and generated costs and time for producers. Also, it stirred fishers to engage in illegal practices due to the lack of legal status. CONAPESCA indicates that nearly 639 commercial fishing permits have been delivered in digital format, of which 473 have been for smaller and 166 for larger vessels.
In addition, CONAPESCA aims to implement technology through its operations, including the National Fishing Registry, to hold a digital registration format to strengthen the sector.