Argentina Rejects Poaching Control in Antarctic Waters

Argentina and Russia have both refused to sign an agreement between 24 countries to fight poaching in Antarctic waters.

The document, an Australian proposal, was discussed during the last meeting of the Convention on the Conservation of Living Antarctic Marine Resources (CCAMLR) that was held in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, in September 2003.

The document required the agreement of all 24 CCAMLR countries and would have led to the establishment of a centralised fleet control system based in Australia. The agreement would have regulated all vessels navigating in areas close to the Antarctic Circle and would have been implemented in 2004.

Representatives from the Argentine government rejected the creation of a central body to control illegal vessels in Antarctic waters, arguing that this would mean that a country would 'lose control over its own national waters. 'An Argentine government source in Buenos Aires stated that "We wholly support the fight against poaching, and for this reason we have a very good satellite monitoring system in the country. We cannot, however, allow others to take control over our waters."

The statement highlights Argentina s rejection of centralised control systems operated by large countries, capable of reducing Argentina's control over its Antarctic and South Atlantic waters. The past conflict between Argentina and Great Britain over the Falkland Islands had a strong influence on the country's decision. Argentine agreement would have meant allowing Great Britain to exercise a certain amount of control over Argentine waters, something which would have been very irritating for the Argentine Foreign Office according to diplomatic sources from President Kirchner's administration.

The Argentine refusal was questioned by the American and Australian delegations, who were expecting to begin the implementation of the new control system next year.

According to the Australian Environmental Ministry's Parliamentary Secretary, "Argentina was worried that we would not guarantee that (their) information would be confidential."

However Argentina has agreed to provide any information required by other CCAMLR countries regarding illegal fishing activities in Antarctic waters.

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