Protect Anchovy Population from Overfishing

School of Swimming Anchovies

Target: Ollanta Humala, Peruvian President

Goal: Enforce quotas on anchovies caught in Peruvian waters.

The anchovy population has plummeted to less than half its volume over the past decade in Peruvian waters. The decrease in the anchovy population has led to reductions in the entire food chain as larger fish and marine animals depend upon it for their survival. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization call it the world’s most heavily exploited fish in world history. Independent experts agree that the main causes in the anchovy population reduction are rampant overfishing, lax enforcement of quotas, and under-reporting of catch. Demand that stricter fishing enforcement take place to protect the anchovy population.

According to an official Peruvian report, there were 4.85 million tons of anchovy in Peru’s waters in 2012. To ensure long term survival, the species needs a population of at least 5.4 million tons. Between Chile and Peru, about nine million metric tons of anchovies are caught annually – two or three times the amount of all fish species caught in the United States. The fact that anchovies are not only consumed as food does not help this anchovy crisis. Most of Peru’s anchovy catch are ground up as fish meal and the oil is rendered. Peru is, by far, the largest fish meal exporter in the world. Demand for the fish meal is very high on the international market. It is fed to farmed seafood and livestock from Norway to China.

The government of Peru cut the allowed commercial catch by two-thirds and has put policies in place to put more fish on citizens’ plates. However, the commercial fleet has largely ignored the quotas set. They blame climate change for the decrease in the anchovy population. Despite tighter restrictions and an increase in inspectors, underreporting still occurs. There are also some loopholes. The rules only apply to vessels fishing in Peru’s 200 mile territorial waters. In addition, vessels under 32 tons were exempted from the quotas, leading to an increase in the overall number of fishermen with smaller boats. Exports are also subsidized, making it less expensive to sell the anchovies overseas than to haul it overland.

The government put additional measures in place in an attempt to reduce overfishing for the lucrative anchovy fish meal industry. Boats larger than 32 tons are not allowed to fish within 10 miles of the coast. A new class of medium-sized boats, sized between 10 and 32 tons, are allowed to fish the corridor between 5 and 10 miles of the coast. Boats less than 10 tons are allowed to fish within 5 miles of the coast where most of the anchovy spawn. The small and medium- sized boats are restricted from selling their fish for commercial processing. The regular lack of government oversight permits the small and medium-sized boat owners to cheat and sell their catch to illegal fish meal factories where they earn more money.

Marine biologists are calling for better enforcement of the quotas and GPS tracking of vessels to ensure they do not fish outside of their designated areas. Quotas can work but they need to be vigorously applied and enforced. By signing this petition below, you will urge Peruvian President Ollanta Humala to enforce overfishing to protect the anchovy populations from extinction.


Dear President Humala,

The anchovy fishing industry is important to the Peruvian economy and to those who use fish meal in their production facilities. The anchoveta population in Peru has decreased by half over the past decade due to overfishing in Peruvian waters. If this overfishing continues, the ecosystem is in danger of collapsing.

The quotas set for anchoveta fishing are a good first step. Resources need to be allocated to better police the commercial fishing fleet and enforce the quotas. Boats need to be tracked by GPS to ensure that they are not straying from their allowed fishing areas.

The anchoveta population needs to be maintained both for the money the fish meal brings in through exports and for the fish consumed by the Peruvian population. I urge you to allot funding for the enforcement of quotas and installation of GPS units on all fishing vessels. Please save the anchoveta population from overfishing and extinction.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Evan Travels

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