Peru Moves to Greater Transparency and Accountability In Its All-Important Fisheries Sector

A diver in Ancón, near Lima, Peru lands an octopus.         Photo: Walter Wust

Peru is the second-largest fishing nation in the world after China, and home to one of the world’s largest single stock fisheries – the anchoveta. In 2018, after a shift to rights-based management, its industrial fishery was one of the first in the world to make its vessel location (VMS) data available to the public in order to root out illegal fishing and improve management. Then late last year, small coastal fisheries began introducing the use of property rights to increase their accountability and productivity, which is important because they feed much of the country. 

Why This Matters:  Peru may be a small country, but its fisheries are significant globally and the introduction of greater accountability for both large and small fishing vessels is a sign that better management is possible even as the national government struggles to overcome a series of corruption scandalsFishing is second only to mining in terms of importance to the domestic economy — even after coronavirus halted all exports of seafood to China, the country remains bullish about meeting its goal of increasing exports by 30% to $2 billion in 2020 due to better fisheries management. Better management became essential because the country’s fisheries productivity is subject to extreme boom and bust cycles due in great part to climate change. Improving the management of both the industrial and artisanal fisheries took effort on the part of local and international NGOs like Oceana and The Nature Conservancy and philanthropic organizations like the Walton Family FoundationIf the model works in Peru, the hope is that it can be exported to other parts of Latin America and the world.

Peru’s Artisinal IUU Fishing Problem

In 2018, the government of Peru overhauled the management of the industrial anchoveta fishery, with the help of the World Bank. by implementing a cap and trade, rights-based approach based on quotas set by a scientific body and then assigned to individual companies.  But to do the same thing in the small coastal fisheries was a much greater challenge.  There had been explosive growth in the number of vessels and fishers — according to Peru’s Ministry of Production, the numbers increased by over 640% between 1995-2015.  Their proposed rights-based regulation for coastal fisheries covers more than 80 species which needed better management because the free-for-all fisheries combined with so much more fishing effort led to a steady decline or collapse of many dietary staples like scallops, clams, mussels, crabs, and octopus that thrive in Peru’s deep coastal waters.  Renu Mittal of the Walton Family Foundation’s ocean program said of the improved coastal fisheries management, “[i]n a country whose fisheries are culturally important and recognized around the world, Peru will stand out as an example of how to manage fisheries sustainably.”

Up Next

Blue Economy Is Worth $373B to US Economy, Largely Tied to Tourism and Recreation

Blue Economy Is Worth $373B to US Economy, Largely Tied to Tourism and Recreation

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calculated for the first time the value of commercial activities dependent on the nation’s oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes and found that they “floated” $373B of GDP in 2018 and that their growth was stronger than overall GDP growth that year. 

Why This Matters:  Ocean health matters but its impact on the economy is one of the biggest reasons – and now more than ever as we rebuild it.

Continue Reading 568 words
Seabed 2030: An Ambitious Project To Map the 80% of the Ocean That Is Unexplored

Seabed 2030: An Ambitious Project To Map the 80% of the Ocean That Is Unexplored

With so much focus on space exploration, it is easy to forget that the ocean covers 70 percent of the Earth and 80 percent of that is unknown and uncharted — has not been mapped.  But a project called “Seabed 2030” launched three years ago, is aiming to change all that.

Why This Matters:  It is hard to believe how much we don’t know about our home — it’s as if we live in a house but have never explored the basement.

Continue Reading 465 words
Deep Ocean Impact From Climate Change 7x Greater by 2050 Than Today

Deep Ocean Impact From Climate Change 7x Greater by 2050 Than Today

A new study warns that climate change “velocity” in the deep ocean — the rate at which species’ range shifts in order to remain at their preferred temperature — is greater than at the surface even if we mitigate climate change, and particularly at depths below 600  and 3000 feet.

Why This Matters:  The differences in water temperature increases at different depths in the water column could cause major disruptions in food webs as species that rely on each other for survival will have to adapt at different velocities, thus having major impacts on the distribution and abundance of ocean wildlife.

Continue Reading 601 words