JANUARY 08, 2024

Reform Project of the Federal Fishing Regime


Public Law Department Report | Reform Project of the Federal Fishing Regime

The reform bill called “Law of Bases and Starting Points for the Freedom of Argentines”, submitted to the Parliament on December 27, 2023, includes the substitution and repeal of some sections of Law No. 24.922, that regulates the Federal Fishing Regime. The main amendments proposed are:

a) The Authority will be responsible for issuing fishing permits and authorizations based on the established requirements. Therefore, the “prior authorization of the Federal Fishing Council”, provided for in the current legislation, is eliminated. In the same sense, the function of the Federal Fishing Council to approve commercial and experimental fishing permits is eliminated.

b) The function of the Federal Fisheries Council to establish annual catch quotas by vessel, species, fishing area and fleet type is eliminated.

c) Section 25 of the law, which establishes that it shall be mandatory to land the production of fishing vessels at Argentine docks, is repealed.

d) For the granting of fishing permits, the enforcement authority may only verify the technical and safety requirements of the vessels. The permits may not have a differential treatment due to the origin of the vessels, their age or the labor force they employ; nor due to the characteristics of the companies owning the vessels. Permits shall have a minimum duration of 20 years.

e) The Federal Fisheries Council may establish a catch quota per species, whereas the current legislation establishes that a catch quota shall be assigned to each fishing permit, both to pre-existing permits and to those to be granted in the future.

f) The bill also establishes that catch quotas will be allocated by the enforcement authority through an international bidding system, assigning them to whoever provides the highest tariff for the given catch. The quotas will be tendered for a period of 10 years. Each company or business group will be able to execute its catch quota by means of any vessel that has a fishing permit; they will not be able to execute claims if they do not manage to execute the totality of the quota due to closures. Catch quotas will be totally or partially transferable without prior authorization as long as they do not affect the competitive structure of the market, although they must be reported to the enforcement authority. Transfers must respect the ceilings determined by the Federal Fisheries Council on the Maximum Allowable Catch per species. The prohibition of transferring catch quotas from fresh fishing vessels to freezers or factories is eliminated.

g) For the purpose of granting the catch quota, compliance with the legal, social security and tax obligations in force must be evidenced.

h) In the first bidding of species that have been quantified prior to November 2023, a preference system shall be created. The companies that already have quota assigned will have a preference that will allow them to obtain up to half of the quota they had at the highest price offered in the bidding.

i) On the other hand, the bill establishes that only a catch authorization approved by the Federal Fisheries Council must be requested for the fishing of non-quota species.

j) Regarding the extraction right, it is established that the extraction right to be paid by those successful tenderers assigned in the fishing quota bids will be defined in said bidding process and may not be modified.

k) Section 34 of the Law is repealed; it establishes that the approval by the Authority of the projects that contemplate the definitive incorporation of new vessels to the national fishing fleet shall be effective to obtain the respective fishing permit, provided that the acquisition, construction or importation is carried out within the term granted for such purpose, which shall not be extendable. The construction or importation of vessels without prior approval of the project shall be at the exclusive risk and expense of the shipyard, shipowner or importer involved.

l) It eliminates the requirement of having uninterrupted activity in the sector during the last 5 years prior to the application for the leasing by national companies that habitually carry out fishing operations of vessels of foreign registry with bare hull.

m) Section 40 of the Law is repealed; it establishes how the crew of fishing vessels must be constituted, particularly that the qualifications of captains and officers are reserved for native Argentines and that 5% of the crew, seamen and plant operators on board fishing vessels must be constituted by Argentines or foreigners with more than ten (10) years of permanent residence effectively accredited in the country.

n) The bill does not modify Section 4 of Law No. 24,922, which establishes that the living resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone are the exclusive domain of the Nation, but by creating a system of International Tender for the granting of the catch quota per species (Section 27) and eliminating the prohibition to fish in national waters (Malvinas Islands) without the corresponding permit (Section 27 bis) -plus the elimination of the obligation to unload at Argentine docks (Section 25)- it makes the granting of catch quotas more flexible.

o) The bill also establishes that permits, fishing authorizations and quotas granted by Law No. 24,922 will be valid until their expiration.

p) Finally, it is important to note that, due to the disagreement expressed by different governors, the Executive Branch would analyze some amendments to the bill.

We remain at your disposal for any additional information you may require.

Oscar Aguilar Valdez
Santiago Barbarán
Belén Ravenna