Latin America & Caribbean

Clashes as Chile fishermen protest over new fishing law

Fishermen clash with police in Valparaiso
Image caption Small-scale fishermen say their fear for their livelihoods

Hundreds of small-scale fishermen in Chile have clashed with police in several coastal towns as they protested against a proposed new fisheries law.

Riot police used tear gas and water cannon to break up demonstrations in Valparaiso where fishermen erected barricades of burning tires.

The fishermen, who have been protesting for several months, say the new law will favour larger fishing companies.

The law is being debated in Congress and is due to take effect next year.

It sets out fishing concessions and quotas that artisanal fishermen say will threaten their livelihoods.

The legislation also details ways of preserving stocks and mandates the obligatory use by boats of GPS.

Zoila Bustamante, president of the Artisanal Fishermen's Confederation (Conapach), said they were being forced to compete with industrial fishing vessels.

The Fisheries Act, which is due to come into force in January, grants big companies 25-year concessions around fishing farms.

The local fishermen want the government to create restricted fishing zones where they rather than bigger vessels can operate.

The government has said the new law will help to better regulate the industry, so making it more sustainable.

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