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The business case for conserving Peru's fisheries
Fishermen in Peru (Andina)
Juan Carlos Suiro for El Comercio
Translated and adapted by Nick Rosen
May 21, 2012
Why is the sustainability of fishing activities important? Well, because the resources are not infinite.
Changes in the environment and excessive pressure from fishing can significantly affect the population of a resource, as happened with the anchovy in the 1970s, hake in the 1990s and sardines in the beginning of this century.
As an example, while 20 years ago they captured 3 million tons of sardines each year, currently they capture around 20 tons per year. The capture of hake is approximately 15% what it was 15 years ago. In the case of a different form of overexploitation- artisanal, picked up on the beach- when was the last time you saw or ate macha?
In light of the fact that the fishing industry is characterized by an overinvestment of capital in relation to the available resources (there are abundant publications that document this), it Is necessary to regulate, in a transparent and honest way, the intensity and timing of its use.
The other option, free access (defined as the access to fish without barriers, or with barriers that in practice, due to fraud, corruption, imperfect laws, court decisions, etc., don’t actually restrict access) leads to overinvestment to the point that the fishing companies now have boats and processing plants with a capacity to collectively capture a quantity of fish several times the actual population.
This overinvestment is the principal threat to sustainability, because it produces redundant capital, diminishes rent (and therefore public income), diminishes the capacity to innovate and hurts the competitiveness of the industry.
There is a direct relation between the quality of fishing management and the generation of employment and public and private income. The better the management, the greater the incomes are for a longer period of time.
Another factor that is becoming more important every day is the First World’s concern for sustainability.
Various supermarket and restaurant chains have announced different dates, after which they will only sell certified, sustainable seafood. This will be fundamental for the competitiveness of Peruvian seafood in the international market, reflected in the prices for certified products versus uncertified ones.
Another area where the sustainability of the seafood matters is in food security, and in particular nutrition for infants and expectant mothers. There, the anchovy has an important role to play. From the anchovy, they can also extract high-value gourmet products.
In a complementary manner, the Peruvian gastronomic “boom,” with a strong presence in seafood and great diversity, depends on the availability of fish.
The situation of the resources and the environmental conditions must serve to establish the magnitude of fishing, and should serve as the parameters of reference for the social and political considerations in these decisions. That way, for resources that are overfished, there will be conservation and recuperation policies. However, for the country, it would best would be to prevent such situations and not to act when the situation is already problematic.
Juan Carlos Suiro is a researcher associated with the Universidad Cayetano Heredia.
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Total coments: 1
Commented By: locozodiac
On: May 21, 2012. 3:44 pm
In this particula area everything will remain upside down, nothing will work untill a national fishing consciousness is created. Some examples : On the capitalist side, large fishing boats appart from fishing in their intangible specified fishing zones due enter zones that are dedicated exclusively to artisan fishing, that is the fish we all eat. Beach fishing side, the typical fishermen answer, we need to live, have children to raise, so will fish everything that swims, who cares about size or endangered specie, green flag, nobody controls, same as the macha extintion when there used to be millions of them at the beaches. Fishing authorities side, we lack ships, fuels, personal to go to sea and make a fish control, so any one 30 mile from our cost literally can do whatever he wants to as they all have already payed fishing fees. At Wong, Metro, Vivanda fish are suppossed to have a minimum measurement, size will depend on the specie, who controlls that being regulated, well nobody, thank you! Viva el Perú... Untill we don't create a national fishing consciousness everything will remain upside down.
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