Anchovy: Care in a certified fishery

05 Sep 2021

The Buenos Aires anchovy fishery does not play a leading role in the national fishing industry scenario, although it contains some unique characteristics that distinguish it from the rest.

In reality, it is a harvest resource, since it is fished intensively at a certain period of the year on the 39th south latitude in the area known as El Rincón, in southern Buenos Aires.

Unlike other resources such as hake and shrimp that are continuously exploited by the commercial fleet, anchovy does not have great risks of collapse due to overfishing. On the contrary, the pelagic species is under-exploited. Last year 8,200 tons were landed when the maximum allowable catch was 120 thousand tons.

The smaller freshwater fleet fish for anchovy from these days in September and until the summer if the canning industry maintains demand. On land, hundreds of women cut off its head and tail to obtain the steaks. Some end up in an aluminum can but the vast majority are cooked in salt, in large barrels.

The Buenos Aires anchovy is one of the few certified fisheries. For 10 years the Organización Internacional Agropecuaria (OIA), which works for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), determined that the fish population is sustainable, that fishing operations allow the maintenance of the structure, productivity, function and diversity of the ecosystem. . Also that it is subject to an effective management system that entails a responsible and sustainable management of the resource.

Although it is said that the fishery is certified, the certification process is paid by the companies, which are the Client Group. Being certified does not imply a better price for the products exported by the canning and salting sector, but it does allow them to access certain markets that would otherwise be prohibited. Whoever is not part of that Client Group does not have the certification.

Within this context, in the coming weeks two boats that fish for anchovy will be equipped with audible alarms in the nets and floating inflatable buoys as elements to mitigate bycatch and interaction with birds and marine mammals to prevent them from dying or getting injured.

Anchovy is a delicacy for these animals, seagulls, dolphins, sea lions, they try to feed when the net emerges to the surface. The alarms have individual batteries that are attached to the network and emit a sound that alerts mammals and prevents them from approaching. The buoys act as scarecrows and are activated in the network when the water / air interface transits These two boats are not yet defined because the harvest has not yet started. Many boats continue to fish for shrimp and other magrú. In order to evaluate the performance of the devices, sets will be made with and without bycatch mitigation measures.

The observers will film the maneuver to identify the behavior of the birds and marine mammals, and make the necessary adjustments to improve its effectiveness.

This pilot test was defined recently after a plenary meeting in which multiple actors from the fishery participated: companies, fishermen, researchers from the University, Conicet and Inidep as well as environmental organizations.

From Vida Silvestre they issued a document after the plenary meeting. Diego Rodríguez and Juan Seco Pon, both researchers from the UNMdP, recognized that with these dissuasive elements “it is not intended that the incidental capture of these species with conservation problems is null, but rather that the objective is to reduce their capture as much as possible, while maintaining the same production levels ”.

Juan de la Garza, Head of the INIDEP Biological-Fisheries and Environmental Information Acquisition Program, highlighted that “mitigation measures and the implementation of good fishing practices, as well as management measures by the Federal Fisheries Council and the Authorities Application, are part of Ecosystem-Based Management ”. The alarms and buoys were provided by the group of private sector fishing companies that are part of the certification process and by the Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina.

Verónica García, advisor to the Foundation, assured that “it is essential to accompany the efforts of all sectors that want to modify their productive practices towards those that minimize the impact on the ecosystem and the species that live there, to achieve sustainable development” .

Juan Manuel Di Costanzo, captain B / P Beagle Channel pointed out that “obviously we are concerned that mitigation measures do not threaten the safety of the crew and our work, but for some time we have been carrying out fishing maneuvers to avoid damaging these species ”.

Anchovy does not appear on the podium of the main species of the industry but it marks the way in the sustainable management of the resource and the accompanying fauna. A path that actors from other fisheries must necessarily look at.

Source: Punto Noticias