The icy waters of the South Pacific have moved center stage in a debate over how to manage fisheries once thought inexhaustible.

For decades the commercial fishing industry has systematically decimated fish populations.

Last December, Chile's government passed a controversial fisheries law that included dubious conservation measures, while awarding the largest share of the most lucrative fisheries—including jack mackerel and hake—to four national conglomerates.

Independent fishermen, known as artisans, say the law turns the country’s marine resources into a private oligopoly—a nautical version of Latin America's epic land inequality.

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Chile's coastal waters are among the richest in the world, but years of exploitation have exacted a toll on resources. As Congress debates a solution, fishing outfits scrap for their survival.

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July 12, 2013 / Untold Stories
Fernando Rodriguez
Chile's coastal waters were among the richest in the world, but years of exploitation have exacted a toll on resources. As the government debates a solution, local fishermen struggle for survival.
June 20, 2013 / Untold Stories
Aaron Nelsen, Fernando Rodriguez
The battle over Chile's new fisheries law divided artisan fishermen. Labor activist Nelson Estrada picked up the fractured pieces to lead the opposition against the law.