Southwest Atlantic (SWA), corresponding to FAO Area 41, covers a total surface area of 17.65 million square kilometres. It spans from 5°N latitude off the coast of Brazil, to 60°S latitude off the coast of Argentina. Most of the area is classified as High-Seas, defined by the Convention of the Law of the Sea as those waters beyond 200 miles from a nation’s coastline. There is no Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) active for SWA, with the exception of ICCAT and CCSBT that govern tuna fisheries. Majority of the fisheries in the SWA are therefore taking place under an open access regime, with limited rules, where international cooperation lacks a forum for discussing management measures, sharing data or resolving conflicts.
Fleets operating in the SWA are mainly distributed among S-American, Asian and EU countries. The major operators are Argentinean and Spanish fleets that focus mainly on hake, and Asian fleets that focus on cephalopods; whilst the Brazilian fleet is primarily interested in tuna species.
The H2020 project FarFish has raised the issue on how little the interests of Brazil are in the fisheries that are taking place 200 miles off the country´s shores; particularly as Brazil has by far the longest coastline to the SWA. The most important output of the project has been the stakeholder interactions, facilitate dialogue on how to best proceed to facilitate sustainable management, and also to indicated the necessity to implement an RFMO for the área, to development of an international legislation to protect VMEs, improving data collection on biological and ecological variables, improving catch registration, particularly on bycatch and improved monitoring, control and surveillance.