* Concerns about climate, overfishing grow
* Peru is world's top fishmeal exporter
LIMA Oct 31 Peru has slashed its commercial
fishing quota as warmer water temperatures and controversial
practices deplete stocks of anchovy in one of the world's
The government cut its quota for this summer's anchovy
season by 68 percent to 810,000 tonnes, the smallest allowance
in 25 years. Anchovy is rarely eaten fresh, but is instead
dried, ground up and exported as a protein-rich feed for
livestock and farmed fish.
The stricter quota will allow just enough anchovy to swim
into spawning season, reproduce, and keep the size of the
fishery more or less stable, according to a report by the
government marine institute IMARPE.
"Technically we should have said the quota is zero. That's
how bleak the panorama is," Production Minister Gladys Trevino
told reporters late on Tuesday.
The anchovy population has shrunk 41 percent since last
summer and is 28 percent smaller than the average of the past 12
years, IMARPE says.
The quota for the November to February fishing season could
push the price of fishmeal up even further. The price of the
commodity has more than doubled over the past decade, and rose
some 20 percent in the past year, according to data from the
Peru is the world's top fishmeal exporter, producing about a
third of worldwide supply. Last year it shipped abroad more than
$2 billion in fishmeal and fish oil.
The anchovy pulled from Peru's Pacific Ocean is sold as
fishmeal that feeds pigs in China and farmed salmon in Europe.
It's also squeezed into increasingly popular Omega-3
The government could impose additional restrictions if the
warmer waters that IMARPE predicts reach Peru in coming months.
Anchovy prefer the cold waters of the nutrient-rich Humboldt
current, which is home to a fifth of the world's fish stocks
and flows northward from Chile to Peru.
IMARPE said Peru is experiencing the effects of a mild "El
Nino" and that the warm waters that the climatological
phenomenon brings produced a mass die-off of anchovy earlier
this year. El Nino phenomena have been linked to extreme weather
Three Kelvin waves - the warm equatorial swells that stretch
hundreds of miles across - shored up on Peru's coast between May
and September, the institute said, and it predicts two more by
the end of the year. Kelvin waves signal El Nino seasons and
make landfall on the western coast of South America.
"But we can't just blame what's going on in the
environment," said Arturo Gonzales, director of the sustainable
fishing advocacy group CeDePesca. "There are a lot of questions
about how much this is driven by the industry's discarded
catches, and that's something we can control."
IMARPE says that industrial fishermen at times return young
fish they catch unintentionally back to the sea to avoid fines
the government has set to try to protect them. The fish are
already dead by the time they are thrown back into the water.
The fishing interest group, the National Fishery Society,
was unavailable to comment on the new quota, but the industry
had already been bracing for reduced catches and has set a new
rule that pushes large vessels 10 miles from shore.
The regulation, designed to protect shallow-water spawning,
reserves the first five miles from the coast for smaller
fishermen and the five-10 mile zone for medium-sized boats.
That would cut Peru's anchovy exports by about $300 million,
the National Fishery Society has said.
(Reporting By Mitra Taj and Teresa Cespedes; Editing by Terry
Wade; and Peter Galloway)