MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) – The US government will block Mexican fishing vessels from entering US ports in the Gulf of Mexico, arguing that the Mexican government has done enough to prevent its boats from illegally fishing in US waters. not done.
As of February 7, Mexican fishing boats in the Gulf “have been banned from entering US ports, will be denied port access and services,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote in a report made public Wednesday. ”
The move removes a year-long problem with US efforts to protect valuable red snapper stocks along the Gulf Coast.
Small Mexican boats often use restricted long lines or nets to transport snapper into American waters, and then sometimes apparently sell it back to American customers. Such nets and lines can indiscriminately trap marine life.
The NOAA report slammed Mexico for its “continued failure to combat unauthorized fishing activities by small hulled vessels (called lanchas) in US waters”.
“The United States is committed to working with the Government of Mexico to support its actions to address the issues identified in 2019 and 2021, and Mexican fishermen working in the Gulf of Mexico once the action is taken. The US is set to re-establish port privileges for ships taken over by Mexico,” according to the report.
Mexico’s Department of the Environment and Economy did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision.
NOAA said in a previous report that the US Coast Guard has intercepted dozens of Mexican boats in the Gulf, including “large numbers of Mexican nationals who are repeat offenders, some being intercepted more than 20 times since 2014″. Is.”
It noted that the United States imported about five tons of fresh and frozen snapper from Mexico in 2018, “raising concerns that these imports may include fish harvested illegally in US waters.”
Environmental group Oceana Mexico said in a statement that “Mexico has not yet fully implemented its USMCA (US-Mexico Canada Free Trade Treaty) environmental commitments with regard to sustainable fishing practices.”
Environmentalists say Mexico’s attitude to the Gulf fishing controversy reflects a lack of efforts to stop gill net fishing in the Sea of Cortez or the Gulf of California, which has pushed the vaquita marina porpoise to the brink of extinction.
“The United States has again rightly sanctioned the Mexican government for failing to get a handle on illegal fishing,” said Sarah Uhleman, director of the Center for Biological Diversity International Program.
“This time, Mexican officials didn’t stop boats from illegally entering U.S. waters to fish. Last fall, they couldn’t get fishermen to use gear that protects sea turtles,” Uhleman said. said, adding Mexico “cannot manage to stop large-scale illegal fishing in the Upper Gulf of California to save the endangered vaquita porpoise. The clear American message is that the Mexican government needs to clean up its fishing practice.” or lose an important seafood business partner.