Argentine fishermen demand more aid amid severe drop in Parana water level

Buenos Aires, Aug 11 (EFE).- A group of artisanal fishermen gathered outside the Argentine Congress building on Wednesday to raise the alarm about the crisis in that sector triggered by the steep drop in the Parana River’s water level.

They also called attention to the South American country’s worsening economic crisis.

During the so-called “pescadazo,” organized by different cooperatives affiliated with the La Dignidad Popular Movement, the demonstrators sold river fish at “popular prices” of around 150 pesos ($1.55) per kilogram.

They also demanded subsidies for fishermen and concrete measures to alleviate the crisis in that sector.

“The national government decreed a water emergency over the low level of the Parana River and didn’t provide any financial solution to river workers,” Jose Ramirez, president of a river workers cooperative in Villa Constitution, a city located on the southwestern banks of the Parana River in the northeastern province of Santa Fe.

River workers had been catching around 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of fish per day, but that number has since plunged to around 30-40 kilograms per day, the fisherman said.

“I’ve been fishing my entire life, and I’ve never seen a drop like this,” he said, adding that he and his colleagues must walk “three or four kilometers” (1.8-2.5 miles) to enter the river.

“We’re talking about between 20,000 and 30,000 families who depend on (the river across) the whole fishing basin,” Ramirez said.

Three-fourths of the Parana River basin – which covers a surface area equivalent to around 70 million hectares (270,270 square miles) – are experiencing drought conditions ranging from moderate to exceptional, according to a recent report from Argentina’s National Meteorological Service (SMN).

The drought caused by a deficit of rainfall in the Brazilian basins of the Parana River have caused that waterway to plummet to its lowest level since 1944.

According to the SMN, lower-than-normal precipitation levels are forecast for the August-October period in two areas of Argentina’s portion of the Parana River Drainage Basin: the southern part of the Argentine Littoral region, located in the country’s northeast; and in the eastern part of Buenos Aires province.

Lower-than-average rainfall is then expected to continue in those areas in ensuing quarters through January 2022, while models are forecasting higher-than-normal precipitation at the river’s source in Brazil over that same time period.

The Parana River, which runs through parts of Brazil and Paraguay before entering Argentina, forming the Rio de la Plata and eventually emptying into the Atlantic Ocean, covers a total distance of 4,880 kilometers and is the second longest in South America after the Amazon. EFE


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