PERU:The international marine conservation organization Oceana expressed regret at the decision of the Ministry of Production (PRODUCE) to open a second anchovy fishing season, given the "high degree of vulnerability of this species compared to El Niño Phenomenon," as it is indicated through scientific evidence.
The NGO argues that the adopted measure threatens the sustainability of the world's largest fishery, which could experience a population collapse.
"This decision puts the resource sustainability at risk as well as the future supply and threatens fisheries of other species that depend on the anchovy. In addition, noting that the report itself acknowledges the presence of a strong El Niño event that will continue until at least the end of the year," explained Patricia Majluf, deputy president of Oceana in Peru.
Oceana regrets that the Peruvian authorities have prioritized industrial fishing (for processing fishmeal and fish oil) to the detriment of the 200,000 people who depend on fishing for direct human consumption as a way of making their living.
"It is noteworthy that the results of the September’s survey assessment conducted by Instituto del Mar del Peru (IMARPE) are not taken into account, since they reveal a biomass of 3.38 million tonnes, which is insufficient to assign a catch quota, as it requires a minimum of 5 million tonnes of reproductive specimens," Oceana stressed.
"Instead, the results of the joint acoustic exploration carried out from 20 to 28 October have been prioritized, although this assessment is less complete and uses a methodology that has not been tested before."
The NGO explains that even if these results are considered to be true, there are several problems with the value of the biomass used for defining the fishing quota:
- The quota has been set on a total biomass of 6,07 million tonnes;
- To set the quota, only the adult population should be used, which should be more than 5 million tonnes to protect the stock sustainability;
- It was found that 28 per cent of the biomass corresponds to juvenile specimens (less than 12 cm long);
- Disregarding the juvenile specimens, there are only 4.3 million tonnes of adults, which is not enough to allow the fishing activity this season.
Furthermore, IMARPE describes a very vulnerable situation of anchovy, which requires precautionary measures:
- Anchovy approach to coastal areas: 45 per cent of the biomass is located within the first 10 miles adjacent to the coast, mostly juvenile specimens and breeding females.
- The spawning process continues, and could have begun its decline phase.
- The anchovy wellbeing is below its historical pattern, a situation that has been repeated since 2014 and is reflected in its low-fat content and poor physical condition.
Moreover, according to the conservation organization, the decision-making process has been "transparent", since the technical reports that support the decision taken were released after the publication of the regulation authorizing the second season.
In addition, it stresses that the quota allocated to the industry, which is 1.11 million tonnes, does not consider leaving a fraction for artisanal and small-scale fisheries, as it is required by regulations.
Oceana urges PRODUCE to restrict fishing activities within the first 10 miles, where juvenile specimens are concentrated. It also considers it is a priority to specify the control and supervision measures in this high risk period.