Chile and Peru sign landmark agreement to sustain world’s largest single species fishery

Aug 25, 2016

The Humboldt Current extends along the Coast of Chile and Peru and its cold and nutrient-rich waters support one of the world´s largest fisheries, the Anchovy. Photo: Michael Akester

New York, August 25, 2016 –  The Humboldt Current is one of the world´s most productive Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs), representing approximately 6% of the global fish catch in 2015 (an El Niño year) and gener­ating goods and services of around $20 billion annually. In 2015 total annual landings in Chile and Peru were approximately 5.8 million tonnes, of which about 70% were harvested in Peruvian waters. For the last five years Chile and Peru have been assisted by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the The Humboldt Current Large Marine Ecosystem (HCLME) Project.

The Humboldt Current extends along the Coast of Chile and Peru and its cold and nutrient-rich waters support one of the world´s largest fisheries, the Anchovy. The anchovy fisheries in this ecosystem are of national, regional and global significance. It is estimated that more than 1,000 fish species depend on the Humboldt Current within their life cycles. The fishmeal and essential oils generated from the anchovy are a primary food source for farmed fish, an increasingly important component of global food security (aquaculture now accounts for roughly half all of seafood consumed on earth). This fishery generates important local employment opportunities and income for artisanal fisherfolk, men and women, and its significant economic value provides a strong incentive to sustain the fishery and to ensure current catch levels do not compromise future harvests. But a range of anthropogenic activities are exerting pressure on this unique ecosystem. The top four threats are overfishing, pollution, coastal development, and resource exploration.

At present 98% of the anchovy catch goes towards indirect human consumption by means of fishmeal and oil inputs to livestock feeds, mainly pigs and fish. The HCLME Project has actively promoted the direct human consumption of anchovy, either as a cured salted product or as a protein powder to be added to cakes and bread. The initiative has also promoted the Ecosystem Based Management Approach to fisheries management and has brought Chilean and Peruvian scientists together to work towards standardized stock assessment methodologies and a coordinated approach to the straddling stock management.

On August 9, 2016, several ministries from both countries signed the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the Humboldt Current LME. The signing was designed to promote a multi-sectoral approach to the management of the area. The Project carried out an in-depth analysis of the problems facing the LME, identifying their root causes, and has five main objectives:

1) Recover and maintain optimal population levels of main fishery resources considering environmental variability while maintaining the health and productivity of the ecosystem.

2) Improve the environmental quality of coastal and marine ecosystems through integrated management, considering the different sources of contaminants.

3) Recover and maintain habitats and biodiversity of the marine and coastal systems at sustainable levels.

4) Diversify and add value, creating productive opportunities inside and outside of the fishing sector, with people socially organized and integrated.

5) Contribute to the general population’s food security and food safety.

Implementation of the SAP by Chile and Peru will also help deliver key 2030 Sustainable Development Goals related to marine conservation, food security, poverty reduction, gender equality, biodiversity protection, good governance, sustainable production and consumption.

Contact information

Panama: Jose Vicente Troya,

New York: Vanessa Hidalgo,

Peru: Karim Capristan,

Chile: María Luisa Sierra,

Project Coordinator: Michael Akester,

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