Oceana Report on Dark Fishmeal in Peru, February 2019

On February 13th 2019, the NGO Oceana published a Press Release on the production of illegal fishmeal in Peru. The communication cites the results of an Oceana report into the diversion of approximately 150,000 tonnes of anchovy from direct human consumption into the manufacture of fishmeal. Any illegal activities in fisheries supplying raw material for fishmeal manufacture are obviously unacceptable, and IFFO recommends the adoption of the IFFO Responsible Supply scheme, which is the only fishmeal plant certification scheme, in tackling raw material supply issues.  

In Peru, the vast majority of the annual catch of the Peruvian anchovy, Enrgaulis ringens, is used for the production of fishmeal and fish oil.  In 2018 the quota allocated to industrial fishing (fishmeal and fish oil manufacture) exceeded 5 million tonnes.  The coastal artisanal fishery that provides fish for direct human consumption via the canning industry operates along the Peruvian coast and is noted by the FAO[1] as having a total catch of a bit over 700,000 tonnes (2008) comprising about 220 species of which 80% are finfish.  This story relates to that artisanal fishery that operates outside of the industrial fishery, separate both geographically and from a regulatory perspective.  The artisanal fishery catches fish for direct human consumption, and although there can be no justifications for illegal acts, there may be genuine market reasons why this anchovy catch of approximately 150,000 tonnes has ended up as fishmeal rather than food.

The use of Peruvian anchovy as food rather than feed is something that IFFO has reported[2] previously as having some considerable challenges to the development of local markets in Peru.  After decades of Peruvian government investment in extracting the nutritional benefits of the anchovy by direct human consumption (DHC) there has been only very limited uptake of the species in the market.  In 2011, the figures for DHC volume were 1.75% of the total quota, i.e. a miniscule volume of the total.  This is a fishery that has only a limited market as food.  It is, however, widely recognized the world over as providing an essential contribution to animal feed markets through much greater volumes.  It is important to understand this perspective.

Despite the wording in the report by Oceana, Peru has shown some great leadership in fisheries transparency recently, making its national fishing vessel tracking data available publicly through Global Fishing Watch late in 2018.  A strong supporter of that move was actually Oceana[3].

IFFO reads that the National Fisheries Organisation in Peru, the Sociedad Nacional de Pesqueria (SNP), has been working actively with the Peruvian government and regulators in order to better understand the situation and take actions where possible to combat the manufacture of fishmeal from illegal raw material.  IFFO endorses this approach, and is widely supportive of any steps that are taken to counter any illegal activities in fishing anywhere in the world.

IFFO recommends endorsing IFFO Responsible Supply (IFFO RS) certified fishmeal plants which, with full traceability in operation, are a means of managing and removing any inherent risk of illegal fishing activities.