International Governance of Fisheries Ecosystems: Learning from the Past, Finding Solutions for the Future

Chapter 8: International Governance of the Peruvian Anchoveta

Ivan Orlic and Rebecca M. Berngartt

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569995.ch8

Coastal upwelling margins are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world’s ocean (Barber and Smith 1981). In fact, fisheries landings from the Humboldt Current, off the coast of Peru and Chile, account for about 10–20% of the total worldwide marine fish landings (FAO 1993; FAO 1998), harvested from an area representing less than 1% of the ocean’s surface. The richness of the Humboldt Current system has played a key role in the development of Peruvian history since the beginnings of civilization in the region (Marcus et al. 1999). The ecosystem is characterized, however, by seasonal, interannual and decadal variability and the relative abundance of a given species has been linked to habitat changes driven by such variability (Wolff et al. 2003). Currently, the most abundant fish species in this system is the Peruvian anchoveta Engraulis ringens, with a potential annual biomass of 15–20 million tons (Pauly 1992). Even though anchoveta did not become a commercial fishing species for Peru until 1950, rapid industry growth and ensuing increases in harvest levels soon made Peru one of the largest exporters of fish products. Harvest in Peru, mostly by purse seiners, consistently yields 6–12 million metric tons (MMT) of anchoveta annually (FAO 1993; FAO 1998; PRODUCE 2004). Anchoveta is used primarily in the production of fishmeal and fish oil, with Peru producing 30% of the annual global production of such products worth about U.S. $ 1.1 billion (PRODUCE 2004). This makes fisheries the second largest industry in Peru, with socioeconomic influences that go even beyond providing tens of thousands of jobs, to influencing development along the Peruvian coast and beyond (Agüero 1996; Deligiannis 2000; Roemer 1970).

The anchoveta fishery has not developed in isolation, and the history of the fishery has had profound impacts on the status and trends in the worldwide fish meal industry and market (Shepherd et al. 2005), the biological processes in the Humboldt Current System (Pauly and Tsukayama 1987), and international maritime law and fishing standards (Carroz 1982; Glantz 1983). Governance of the fishery, though not always effective, has been influenced by the international community to varying degrees. This chapter will examine the actors and interactions that play a role in governance of the fishery, looking at it from a historical perspective. Particular emphasis will be placed on (1) the role of information and expertise; (2) influences on the norms and values governing the fishery; (3) the management of shared stocks; and (4) influences of the global market. The analysis will focus on the development of the governance of the fishery, and its strengths and weaknesses. Finally, several remaining challenges will be reviewed in light of current governance, fisheries ecology, industry and market capacity and resilience, and socioeconomic consequences.