Anchovy, Peruvian anchovy
Capture method — Purse seine
Capture area — South East Pacific (FAO 87)
Stock area — Central-Southern Chile Stock
Stock detail — Chile (Central): 3-4
Updated: October 2020
The Chilean anchovy fishery occurs in the Humboldt Current System (HCS), one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. The stock is highly dependent on recruitment, which in turn changes with environmental and oceanographic conditions in the Chilean ecosystem, like El Nino and La Nina events.
There is some evidence based on reproductive parameters that two independent populations may exist in Central-Southern Chile. However, it is more likely, based on genetic and other scientific studies, that the Central-Southern Chilean stock is a single stock. Still, Chilean authorities assess and manage the stock as two different fishery units: as a central (Regions III and IV: Atacama and Coquimbo) and southern (Regions V to X: from Valparaiso to Los Lagos) component.
The Chilean anchovy has a high resilience to fishing pressure. The central component of the Chilean anchovy stock has been increasing in size since 2015. The stock is currently at healthy levels and under-exploited. Chilean anchovy and South American pilchard constitute a mixed fishery in this region. A management plan was approved in 2017 for the fishery. Chile has a suite of management measures to protect the anchovy population so that the stock can remain stable. Measures include Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits. In recent years, TACs have been set in line with scientific advice and compliance to TAC is high. Landings rarely achieve the TAC, but fishing mortality is estimated to be 20% above the management target if catches attain the set TAC for 2020.
Purse seining is a selective fishing gear, with little to no impact on the seabed. However, in this particular fishery industrial operations are permitted within the coastal zone, which could impact benthic habitats if nets make contact with the seafloor. Bycatch levels are thought to be low. There is a lack of information on interactions ETP species for this fishery but measures are in place to minimise mortality. The main threat posed by the fishery to ETP species is via a reduction in food availability, although, high mortalities of Pink-foot shearwater seabirds (a vulnerable species that breed only in Chile) have been observed in central Chilean purse-seine fisheries.
A member of the Engraulidae family, Peruvian anchovy is found in the eastern South Pacific along the coast of northern Peru, southwards to Chile. It forms huge schools in surface waters and is entirely dependent on the rich plankton of the Peruvian Current. It breeds throughout the year along the entire coast of Peru, but with a major spawning in winter/spring (July to September) and a lesser one in summer (February and March); also throughout the year off Chile, with peaks in winter (May to July) and the end of spring (especially December). Peruvian anchovy mature at about 1 year (about 10 cm standard length); attains about 8 cm standard length in 6 months, 10.5 cm in 12 months and 12 cm in 18 months (maximum length 20 cm); longevity about 3 years.
Criterion score: 0.25 info
Central-Southern Chile Stock
The spawning stock is in a good state and the fished stock is not over-exploited. The Chilean anchovy has a high resilience to fishing pressure.
The Chilean anchovy fishery occurs in the Humboldt Current System (HCS), one of the most productive ecosystems in the world. Climate variability in this region occurs at different scales: intraseasonal; interannual and interdecadal. The stock is highly dependant on recruitment, which in turn changes with environmental and oceanographic conditions in the Chilean ecosystem, like El Nino and La Nina events. It is projected that future climate changes in the coastal areas off Chile will have a moderate negative change in habitat suitability of anchovy due to warmer and poorer chlorophyll water.
The stock status of this fishery is currently uncertain. There is some evidence based on reproductive parameters that two independent populations may exist in Central-Southern Chile. However, it is more likely, based on genetic and other scientific studies, that the Central-Southern Chilean stock is only one stock. Still, Chilean authorities assess and manage the stock as two different fishery units: as a central (Regions III and IV: Atacama and Coquimbo) and southern (Regions V to X: from Valparaiso to Los Lagos) component.
Stock assessments are conducted by the Fisheries Development Institute of Chile (IFPO). Stock-recruitment and spawning periods are closely monitored by IFOP, per region. There is a consistent delay in the publication of IFOP stock assessment reports, only stock status summaries provided by the Technical Scientific Committee for Small Pelagics (CCT-PP) are available by the time TACs are defined. In this region, indirect assessment is conducted using a statistical catch-at-age model allowing the incorporation of supplementary information, such as Spawning Stock Biomass (SSB), Catch Per Unit of Effort (CPUE), fishing mortality (F), catch-by-age and year and recruitment indices.
The central component of the Chilean anchovy stock (regions III-IV) has been increasing in size since 2015. In 2019, SSB was estimated at 92,500 tonnes, well above the management target (SSBMSY) of 45,000 tonnes and the biomass limit (Blim) of 22,500 tonnes. Fishing mortality (0.4) was below the management target (0.48), which it has been since 2009. In 2019, the ratio of F:FMSY was 0.83. Consequently, the stock was described as being under exploited..
Absolute value of the latest dynamic reference point (MSY) and biomass estimates are not made available in the last stock status report (April 2020) for the spawning stock, but only relative numbers. The stock (III-IV) condition is now considered as fully exploited by the CCT-PP and SSB is estimated to be 40% above the MSY proxy. A significant increase was observed in recruitment, total and spawning biomass compared with the previous year (2019). The CCT-PP indicates that fishing mortality is estimated to be 20% above FMSY if catches attain the set TAC for 2020. However, fishing operations do not normally reach the TAC. Additionally, operations have been affected due to the 2020 pandemic which is likely to reduce fishing mortality for 2020.
IFOP’s stock assessment report considers a range of sources of uncertainty, e.g. variability in CPUE data, environmental factors, and stock aggregation for habitat or reproduction, acoustic biomass estimation parameters. Life history parameters are also considered (growth, mortality and maturity), the process error inherent in the evaluation model and the short history of the fishery.
There are three distinct stocks of anchoveta (Engraulis ringens): Northern-Central Peruvian stock; Southern Peru/Northern Chile stock; and Chilean Central-Southern stock.
Criterion score: 0.5 info
There are management measures in place for the fishery, which are partly effective in managing the stock.
Chilean anchovy fisheries are divided into three management units: Regions XV to II; Regions III and IV; Regions V to X. Management of the Chilean anchovy units is issued and reviewed by the Chilean Undersecretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SUBPESCA) in accordance with the recommendations produced by the Fisheries Development Institute (Chile) (IFOP).
There is some uncertainty over the status of the Chilean Central-Southern stock, but it is likely to be a singular unit. In which case, the stock should be assessed and managed as one stock, rather than the Central and Southern components being assessed and managed unilaterally by Chile.
Chilean anchovy (anchoveta: Engraulis ringens) and South American pilchard (sardinops sagax) in the III-IV Regions (the central component of the Chilean Central-Southern anchovy stock) constitute a mixed fishery. A management plan was approved in 2017 for the fishery, but no explicit harvest control rule is in place yet.
Adopted in 2013, the primary legal instrument for fisheries management in Chile has been the Chilean Fisheries Act ‘la Ley General de Pesca y Acuicultura’ (LGPA). One of the main objectives of the Act is to guarantee sustainability of Chile’s marine resources. Long term management plans, which reference the Act, ensure rules are in place to achieve this objective The LGPA defines a range of sanctions for offences including fishing with an unlicensed vessel, illegal discarding, incorrect logbook use, failure to report landings and fishing in a region or fishery other than the one for which the vessel is licenced. Other sanctions are in place for industrial vessels landing more fish than they have quota for. Depending on the offence, sanctions can include one or a combination of: monetary penalties; suspension of fishing licence; and revocation of licence. The LGPA also includes commitments to develop management plans for any fishery with restricted access, and to review and update these plans every five years.
The LGPA does not establish catch restrictions when stocks are below limit biomass. Instead, Biologically Acceptable Catches (BAC’s) and a resource recovery plan must be implemented. A Management Committee is required to elaborate and implement recovery plans under Article 9 of this Act. The precautionary approach is taken when allocating BAC’s.
A review of the 2013 Act has been undertaken recently. A team of international and local fisheries experts assisted the Chilean government with an extensive review of a new fisheries law in a bid to help the administration address public concerns. Although the FAO’s Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM) had been declared as a principle, it has not been implemented in practice. The review was delivered to Government in October 2016 and now constitutes a basis for ongoing discussion about reforms in the Law.
There is a consistent delay in the publication of IFOP stock assessment reports, only stock status summaries provided by the Technical Scientific Committee for Small Pelagics (CCT-PP) are available by the time Total Allowable Catch is defined. Annual catch limits can be modified in an adaptive way during the year as a result of updated scientific data. However, the CCT-PP has reported that reducing the set catch limit has a high administrative burden and has opted to maintain the status quo in catch advice in such cases.
The fishery is managed by annual Total Allowable Catch (TAC), which are now considered to be precautionary. Historically, TACs were consistently set above scientific advice, since 2015 TACs have been set in line with advice, except in 2016 (111% of the TAC). Compliance to the TAC has been high and the last known non-compliance was in 2003 (107% of the TAC). Landings rarely achieve the allocated quota, on average landings have been 30% below the TAC (2015-19). In 2018 and 2019 landings were 97% and 92% of the TAC, respectively.
Workshops have been provided by Government to demonstrate best fishing practice including minimising discards and bycatch. Temporary closure orders have been issued by Government when high proportions of juvenile anchovy have been detected. When large quantities of juveniles are detected closure orders may be extended for periods of one week to fifteen days or more.
Compliance to regulations, both within and outside Chile’s Exclusive Economic Zone, is monitored by a number of different entities: SERNAPESCA; Chilean Navy; and observer Programmes.
Other management strategies include the obligatory use of vessel monitoring systems (VMS) and the recent mandatory use of on-board cameras to identify and quantify discards. Discarding is illegal in Chile, but discards and under-reporting have been known to occur. IFOP has started a program since 2013 to collect information on bycatch in demersal and pelagic fisheries and a manual of good practices to avoid discarding has been provided to all stakeholders active in the fishery.
In 2005, a national action plan was approved with the aim of preventing, deterring and eliminating IUU fishing. There are some instances of non-compliance with SPRFMO’s Conservation and Management Measures, particularly as to timely reporting. A final list of IUU vessels was adopted at the 3rd SPRFMO Commission meeting in 2015 and comprised two vessels. In 2016, three IUU vessels were reported for conducting unauthorised activities. Chile is now involved in an international program to avoid illegal fishing; ‘’Acuerdo sobre medidas del Estado rector del Puerto“ (Port State Measures). This program obliges landings from other countries to be controlled by Chile and applies to foreign flagged vessels fishing in Chilean waters.
Criterion score: 0.5 info
Chilean anchovy is caught by purse seiners in central Chile.
Chilean anchovy (anchoveta, Engraulis ringens) and South American pilchard (sardinops sagax) in the III-IV Regions the central Chilean regions (III and IV), are harvested as part of a mixed fishery. There is little to no impact on ecosystems caused by purse seiners and there are measures in place to protect juveniles that can be involved in the trophic chain of predators, considered ETP. Bycatch, ETP, habitat and ecosystem effects of the fishery do not appear to be significant. The main impacts to the ecosystem is the removal of anchovy on the food chain rather than through bycatch.
Anchoveta is a pelagic species distributed at water depths ranging between 15-70 m during the day and between 5-20 m at night. In Chile, artisanal purse seines can reach depths of between 55-245 m, while industrial nets can reach 110-915 m. Seine net fisheries are not deemed to significantly impact the seafloor unless used in shallow waters, as nets are mostly deployed at greater depths where bottom contact does not occur. In Chile, industrial vessels cannot operate within the 5 nm coastal zone, however, in this particular fishery ‘penetration windows’ exist, where industrial operations are permitted within the 5 nm zone. Additional research on the potential effects of this fishery on the seafloor should be undertaken.
A major challenge in recent years has been the prevalence in commercial catches of juveniles. The purse seine is a non-selective fishing gear in relation to fish size, since the mesh size used is small enough (1/2” or 9/16”) to prevent mass escapes through the net, even of the smallest-sized juvenile specimens of anchovy found in summer (as small as 5 cm total length). To counteract the effects of the purse seine fishery on juvenile populations’, closed seasons are implemented to protect the main recruitment period. Workshops have been provided by the Chilean government to stakeholders in order to demonstrate best fishing practice including minimising discards and bycatch.
The impact of the fishery (III-IV) on other species does not appear to be significant. Fishers can previously select target species, since fishermen’s experience and the use of echo sounders and sonar allow the species to be identified before setting the net. However, on some occasions, the catch trapped in the sack is released by opening the net when non-targeted schools have been caught, and high levels of mortality may occur. There is no recent data on bycatch species for this fishery, as bycatch information is not systematically collected for the III and IV regions. However, data from scientific surveys indicate that the most abundant species present in catches include Anchovy, anchoveta (72.8%), Chilean jack mackerel (Trachurus murphyi) (10.6%) and South American pilchard (1.9%). No specific studies or monitoring programs exist for this region (III-IV), but incidental capture of the short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) occurs in northern Chile in the industrial purse seine fishery and interactions between the South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens) causing some catch losses and damaging the gear, also occurs in the artisanal fishery. In this region (III-IV) the species most effected by the fisheries interactions are Peruvian booby (Sula variegate), the Guanay cormorant (Leucocarbo bougainvillii) and the Kelp gull (Larus dominicanus). A long-term monitoring program is needed for this region (as exists in other Chilean regions) to better estimate the mortality and the factors that influence the interactions of seabirds with fishing gears. Pink-foot shearwater (Ardenna creatopus) are vulnerable (IUCN Red List) seabirds that breed only in Chile and higher mortalities (>1,500 observed mortalities 2015-17) were observed in central Chilean purse-seine fisheries.
Chile is a member of the Agreement of the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels and as such, it is committed to achieve and maintain a favourable conservation status of albatrosses and petrels. The list of species to which the agreement applies includes 22 species of albatross and 9 species of petrels.
The greatest impact of this fishery might be a reduction in food availability and decrease in the availability of anchovy as an important prey for many species, including Endangered, Threatened or Protected (ETP) species. Foraging efficiency of breeding seabirds may be significantly affected by not only global quantities of the stock, but also temporal and spatial patterns of fishery removals. An ecosystem approach to fisheries management could limit the risk of local depletion around breeding colonies using, for instance, adaptive marine protected areas. Anchovy is an important prey for a range of ETP species and there are concerns about Burmeister’s porpoise (Phocoena spinipinnis: status unknown) the Guanay Cormorant (Phalacrocorax bougainvillii: Near Threatened – IUCN) and green turtle (Chelonia mydas: Endangered - IUCN) which feed extensively on anchovy. Efforts taken to protect ETP species in Chile including the establishment of five major Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) covering 41% of Chile’s Exclusive Economic Zones (12% of which are highly protected/fully implemented). The MPAs represent important refuges for seabirds and marine mammals.
The fishery for anchovy is known to interact with several ETP species of sea turtles, marine mammals, seabirds and sharks, most of which are released just after being caught. Among these, are the Humboldt Penguin (Spheniscus humboldti: Vulnerable - IUCN), Peruvian Diving Petrel (Pelecanoides garnotii: Endangered - IUCN) and Smooth Hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena: Vulnerable - IUCN). In Chile, a manual of good practices to avoid discarding and incidental capture of ETP species has been provided to all stakeholders active in the fishery. A manual of good practices and treatment of ETP species is also under development in the artisanal fisheries (sea lions). Workshops have been undertaken to present manuals and best practice training to stakeholders in the fishery. There is no substantial evidence that the fishery has a significant negative effect on ETP species. If the fishery is known to interact with ETP species, measures are in place to minimise mortality.
Developments to improve knowledge of potential impacts of the fishery on ETP species include: On-board vessel protocols for the release and treatment of ETP fauna; Training programs for crews of fishing vessels.
Further research into resource competition between the fishery and top-predators such as seabirds is required.
Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.Anchovy, European anchovy
Anchovy, Peruvian anchovy
Herring or sild
Horse Mackerel, Scad
Salmon, Chum, Keta, Calico or Dog salmon
Salmon, Pink, Spring , humpback
Salmon, Sockeye , Red Salmon, Bluebacks, Redfish
Sardine, European pilchard, sardines
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