91% of citizens living on the Peruvian coast consider that marine resources are overexploited, and 93% believe that this has a negative impact on the country’s economy, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos [ver infografía].
Is this perception consistent with reality? According to the Ministry of Production (Produce), although the Peruvian sea is one of the richest and most productive in the world, due to the fact that it has a great diversity of species, it is currently threatened by indiscriminate fishing, the consumption of species in seasons closed or below the minimum sizes.
“Of course there has been overexploitation for many years. The industry does not respect the minimum sizes, there are juvenile fishing catches in all seasons”, says Lorenzo Vásquez, general secretary of the Chimbote y Anexos Fishermen’s Union.
The scientific entity authorized to evaluate the conditions of our resources is the Institute of the Sea of Peru (Imarpe); However, at present, it has little capacity to do so since the vessels with which this study must be carried out stopped working since before the pandemic, according to the fishing engineer Elmer Nieves.
“It’s necessary that Produces put the three Imarpe research vessels —Humboldt, José Olaya and SNP2— into operation to generate more in-depth scientific research in order to better manage fishing resources, and put aside exploratory fishing that only brings as a consequence the sad images that are displayed in nets, fishing for juveniles”, says Nieves.
In this way, Imarpe uses the industry’s vessels to carry out exploratory fishing and estimate the anchovy population to determine how much can be caught in each season. Which, in the engineer’s opinion, is not very transparent and could set up a conflict of interest.
The leaders pointed out that there is danger in the reproduction of species. Photo: The Republic
The specialist indicates that the effects of climate change also have a negative impact on the anchovy, due to the increase in ocean temperature, so it is extremely important to obtain information on the behavior of this species and not fish it to the limit.
As is known, the anchovy is a resource of vital importance in the trophic chain, since it is the main food for large and medium-sized fish, which we consume on a daily basis, as well as for mammals and birds.
But the damage is already showing. “Before, when we went fishing, we followed the birds, because wherever they dived, there we found fishing. Now it is the opposite, they follow us, because it is difficult for them to capture. The animals are starving,” says Vásquez, who is also an industrial fisherman.
Peruvian sea: a real proposal
85% of Peruvians are concerned that the authorities do not take measures to protect the Peruvian sea and its resources.
In mid-2022, the proposal for a new general fishing law was being discussed in the Congress of the Republic, since, according to experts, the current one does not meet the main objective of guaranteeing the sustainable use of resources.
The proposal did not reach consensus, but a working group was created to improve it. Today there is a new opinion that brings together a series of proposals that could make a difference if they are approved in the next plenary session that is scheduled for this Wednesday. According to Percy Grandez, legal adviser for Marine Governance of the SPDA, the most outstanding thing about the initiative is that it incorporates the category of overexploited resources in the law, updates the classification of artisanal and small-scale fishing and orders the first five miles marine.
“Hopefully this week it can be debated in plenary session and approved. It would mark an important milestone for the strengthening of fishing regulations that will allow updating a general fishing law that is 30 years old,” the lawyer noted.
Fishing for juvenile anchovies without restrictions endangers the species and the industry. Photo: diffusion
Fishing: formalization does not advance
On July 31, the formalization process for almost 1,000 fishing vessels from the San José, La Tortuga and La Islilla cooperatives expires, and to date not only have users not obtained their fishing permits, but Produce has not yet defined the legal formula for obtaining them.
According to attorney Grandez, This is a demand that cannot be postponed, since if the final permits are not obtained on time, the fleet would become illegal.
Elmer Nieves, fisheries engineer
“We exploit our resources to the maximum to allocate them to the foreign market, and we neglect the national market. So much so that we have to import fish products of lower quality than ours”.
Lorenzo Vásquez, Secretary of the Chimbote and Annexes Fishermen’s Union
“Who is suffering the consequences of the over-exploitation carried out by the industrialists? Are the artisanal fishermen that they capture for the consumption of the population”.
Alia is a professional author and journalist, working at 247 news agency. She writes on various topics from economy news to general interest pieces, providing readers with relevant and informative content. With years of experience, she brings a unique perspective and in-depth analysis to her work.