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

One Cool Thing: Environmental DNA

One Cool Thing: Environmental DNA

UNESCO has launched a new program to collect, analyze, and monitor environmental DNA (AKA eDNA) to better understand biodiversity at its marine World Heritage sites. Scientists will collect genetic material from fish cells, mucus, and waste across multiple locations along with eDNA from soil, water, and air.   The two-year project will help experts assess […]

Continue Reading 136 words
One Cool Thing: Otters Stoke Seagrass Romance

One Cool Thing: Otters Stoke Seagrass Romance

It’s about time we had a conversation about the birds and the bees…or in this case, the otters and the seagrass. A new study found that the ecological relationship between sea otters and the seagrass fields where they make their home is spurring the rapid reproduction of the plants. Otters dig up about 5% of […]

Continue Reading 149 words
“Ticking Time Bomb” Oil Tanker Threatens Food & Water Supply for Millions

“Ticking Time Bomb” Oil Tanker Threatens Food & Water Supply for Millions

By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor An abandoned oil tanker off the coast of Yemen is deteriorating rapidly, and experts say that a hull breach could have far-reaching environmental impacts and threaten millions of people’s access to food and water supplies. The FSO SAFER tanker holds 1.1 million barrels of oil — more than four […]

Continue Reading 437 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.