The Civil Guard dismantles the three criminal groups dedicated to the furtive fishing of the most active immature of the province of Malaga

There are 16 people arrested and judicial action has been taken against 7 others as investigated

The three groups of "bolicheros" acted independently and operated in the same way that other criminal groups do

The fish was transported and handled in very poor hygienic-sanitary conditions and used for its preservation unauthorized additives such as formaldehyde, so that its consumption can pose a serious danger to health

The Civil Guard, within the framework of the so-called Operation "Diximus" developed against the poaching of immature fish, has arrested 16 people and investigated 7 others, for offenses against fauna, the illegal fishing of immatures with fishing gear expressly prohibited, the commercial traffic of fishing products without sanitary control, the exhaustion of the population of different marine species and belonging to a criminal group.

The operation began more than a year ago when Seprona agents began to investigate these three networks dedicated to fishing, distribution and sale of immature fish in the province of Malaga.
The investigations revealed that each of the disjointed groups had an average of 10 members directly involved in fishing, surveillance, logistic support, distribution and sale to the final consumer of the so-called "chanquete", a generic name that has mutated over time to encompass the fry of multiple species.

Modus operandi

These three criminal networks had a similar structure to that used by others dedicated to drug trafficking, since they were perfectly hierarchical and their members had a specific role within the group.
They made the fishing between sunset and sunrise, inside the Port of Málaga, and sheltered it on its adjoining beaches. They came to seriously compromise the safety of navigation and ship traffic, by not respecting the minimum standards of safety at sea, as they carried out this activity without lights and in places not allowed, which obliged the ships to perform maneuvers to avoid colliding with the vessels that these groups used.
The now detained and investigated fished furtively the coveted "chanquete" (Aphia minuta) with networks expressly prohibited by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development of the Junta de Andalucía since 1988, called "boliches", by be non-selective arts, incapable of discriminating species and designed to capture very small specimens. This way, fry of other species such as anchovy or sardine were caught, seriously damaging the biological balance and the growth processes of all of them.
They have intervened 16 prohibited networks (bowling), some of them anchored on the seabed, to hide them in view of possible Civil Guard vessels passing through the site, which forced participation for locating and extracting agents from the Underwater Activities Group ( GEAS) of the Civil Guard.
There have also been 6 outboard motors, 5 generators and 7 light bulbs (used to attract fry to the nets at night), 2 boats and 15 vehicles have been brought to justice.
The investigators have located the premises where they hid the prohibited arts and equipment, motors and other specific material to commit these illicit, as well as the place where the boats were docked.
The operation has completely dismantled the three groups most active in the illegal fishing of whitebait in the province of Malaga, seizing all the material (networks, light generators, boats, etc.) that used this illicit activity.
To quantify the damage caused by this poaching, the researchers have collaborated with scientists from institutions such as the Malaga Sea Classroom or the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These institutions warn of the serious danger of disappearance that runs the species "Aphia Minuta" if the indiscriminate fishing off the coast of Malaga is not eradicated, as well as the excessive stress to which other species of goby are subjected by these practices and the use of gear Illegal
They have also had the collaboration of staff of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN), for possible impact on consumer health which implies the use of large quantities of formaldehyde, since the criminal groups used this chemical component without any type of control for the conservation of all their catches. In fact, agents have intervened in the different records made more than 5 liters of this dangerous product.
The assessment of the experts on the injury caused to legal fishermen and official fish markets, estimates that the capture of 1 kilo of immature means the loss of 15 kilos of adult specimens, which can not be caught and distributed through legal channels.
The fishing and consumption of the chanquete, deeply rooted in the Andalusian coasts, and for years associated with the traditional cuisine of Malaga, has been a lucrative business, which with the latest restrictions and prohibitions has reached important benefits that resemble the illicit activity of other types of crime, such as smuggling or drug trafficking itself.
The investigations have determined that the average price at which the kilogram of immature was being paid was 20 to 25 euros in the first step, a price that multiplied by five when it reached the final consumer, who paid around 20 euros for a price. fish ration of 150 grams.
One night of captures, each of these groups could put on sale up to 100 kilos of fish and obtain a benefit of about 2,500 euros. With an average of five trips a week, the monthly benefits could reach, in the best cases, up to 50,000 euros.
The Seprona of the Civil Guard warns that the purchase and consumption of immature fish implies a indeterminate danger to health, because it is caught, handled and transported in very poor hygienic sanitary conditions, the proper traceability of the food is not proven and it supposes the intake of adulterated fish with products such as formaldehyde, which is an unauthorized additive.
In addition, this illegal activity puts the families of the captured species in grave danger, generates a future problem for the fishing grounds and implies an unfair competition towards the fishing fleet that fishes legally and with guarantees for the consumer.
For more information, contact the Peripheral Communication Office of the Civil Guard of Malaga, at 952071539.

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