Peru says El Nino threat over, waters cooling and fish returning
LIMA (Reuters) - The worst of the potentially disastrous weather pattern El Nino is now behind Peru and cooling sea temperatures are luring back schools of anchovy, the key ingredient in fishmeal, authorities said on Friday.
Temperatures in Peru's Pacific peaked in June, rising 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) above average levels, but have since retreated and will likely return to normal by August, the state committee that studies El Nino said.
"The possibility of us seeing an extraordinary Nino is ruled out," said German Vasquez, the head of the committee.
Peru is the world's top fishmeal exporter, producing about a third of worldwide supply. The industry is concentrated along the South American country's northern and central coast.
Cold-water anchovy that swam south to escape warmer sea temperatures that arrived in April are making their way back now, Vasquez said.
"Anchovy are coming north," Vasquez said. "There are already fish in the center of the country, but they're still very close to the coast and not yet at their usual depth."
El Nino, characterized by a warming of surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, can trigger floods in some places and droughts in others.
Vasquez said sea temperatures off Peru's coast could rise again slightly at the end of the year.
(Reporting By Teresa Cespedes; Editing by David Gregorio)