Peru cancels first anchovy fishing season in the North-Central zone

The measure will significantly affect the feed industry, which will face a price increase in raw materials.
Peru cancels the first anchovy fishing season in the North-Central zone of Peru. Photo: Produce / Gobierno de Perú.
Peru cancels the first anchovy fishing season in the North-Central zone of Peru. Photo: Produce / Gobierno de Perú.

The Peruvian Ministry of Production (Produce) announced the cancellation of the first anchovy season in the North-Central zone of the country. Produce made the decision after analyzing the scientific recommendations of the Peruvian Sea Institute (Imarpe), which, following the results of an exploratory fishing expedition, recommended not to start the fishing season for anchovy and white anchovy. The measure will undoubtedly have an impact on the world fishmeal and fish oil market and, consequently, on feed companies.

Preservation of the fishing resource

The Peruvian Minister of Production, Raúl Pérez Reyes, informed in a press conference that after the exploratory fishing expedition carried out between June 3 and 7, Imarpe concluded that there are no adequate biological conditions for the development of extractive activities. Already in February, Produce had closed the second anchovy season of 2022 without reaching the planned quota after industrial fishermen denounced the overfishing of juveniles and pressured the Ministry to take the decision.

The minimum length that anchovy must have in order to be caught is 12 cm. However, Imarpe's analysis found that the sizes observed in the landings during the first three days of the exploratory fishery ranged between 7.0 and 15.0 cm, with a main mode of 10.0 cm and a secondary mode of 11.0 cm. The bycatch of juveniles reached 86.3% in number of individuals and 77% in weight units

"Sea conditions are not given for the start of the fishing season," Pérez Reyes said. "An important issue for the Ministry is the preservation of the fishing resource, if we were to go out at this time and allow the anchovy fishing activity to develop, what we would do is depredate the resource," he continued.

In fact, during the days that the exploratory anchovy fishing was in force, Produce already established 14 fishing zone closures to preserve this resource. In addition, Minister Pérez Reyes announced that an oceanographic research expedition, in charge of Imarpe, is scheduled to set sail in a period of 2 to 3 weeks to check the situation of the anchovy resource.

Raúl Pérez Reyes, Minister of Production in Peru during the press conference announcing the cancellation of the first anchovy fishing season in 2023. Photo: Produce / Gobierno de Perú.

Significant impact on the feed industry

Likewise, the head of Produce also indicated that the Ministry will dialogue with the industrial fishing sector to evaluate measures to overcome the impact on employment and income due to the cancellation of the fishing season. "We are facing a situation that is a consequence of a problem associated with nature, it is not something caused by a political or public decision problem. Therefore, we have to see how we can solve it together with the industry, both the large and the medium-sized, which is the one that operates in the fishing sector," stated the Minister.

"There will be no impact on the artisanal sector, nor on household tables, and resources such as horse jack, mackerel and tuna will not feel the impact either," he added. However, another industry the Minister did not mention will be affected. This is the feed industry since Peru is one of the world's leading suppliers of fish oil and fishmeal. The last Rabobank report predicted a growth of the fishing industry in 2023 that would lead to a decrease in fishmeal and fish oil prices. That may be in jeopardy following this announcement.

After the cancellation of the Peruvian anchovy season, feed companies will have to face an increase in the price of raw materials, so feed prices are expected to increase. Moreover, this could also affect the sustainability targets set by the companies, as they will have to look for other certified sources of marine raw materials, which can be challenging. However, the recent efforts made by feed companies to substitute marine raw materials in their formulations will now be a plus point in trying to keep price increases under control.

So explains Morten Holdorff Møjbæk, Global Sourcing Director, BioMar Group, in a statement sent to WeAreAquaculture. "This announcement is likely to have a significant impact on the industry," he said. "However, at BioMar, we have built a robust supply chain with multiple supply streams of key nutrients from sources other than marine raw materials. We have become less vulnerable to these types of incidents than in the past. This is due to our innovation process, which together with R&D, Sustainability and Sourcing, we are driving a strong pipeline of new raw materials."

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