After analyzing the recommendations from the Peruvian Sea Institute (Imarpe), Peru's Ministry of Production (Produce) has canceled the first fishing season for anchovy in the north-central zone, creating new challenges for the global fishmeal market.
In a press conference, the head of Produce, Raul Perez Reyes, said after exploratory fishing carried out between June 3 and 7, Imarpe concluded there are "no biological conditions for the development of extractive activities."
“The sea conditions are not given for the start of the fishing season," said Perez Reyes. "An important issue for the ministry is the preservation of the fishing resource. If we left at this time and allowed the anchovy fishing activity to develop, what we would do is depredate the resource."
The announcement likely doesn't come as a complete surprise to the industry.
Peru's government suggested in May that the all-important first anchovy season in the South American nation's north-central fishing zone may potentially not take place, according to the website of Peruvian financial publication, Gestion.
Global fishmeal markets had already priced in a deep cut to Peruvian fishmeal supplies, but there was still hope the fishing season would go ahead.
But last week Imarpe's analysis found the fish landed in the first three days of exploratory fishing were small, with a high incidence of juveniles.
Perez Reyes said that a full investigation into the anchovy resource would begin in two to three weeks.
He also said regulators would begin dialogue with the industrial fishing industry to evaluate measures that will allow it to cope with the impact on employment and income due to the non-start of the fishing season.
“We are facing a situation that is the consequence of a problem associated with nature," he said. "It is not something caused by a problem of political or public decision. For this reason, we have to see how we resolve it together with the industry."
It's rare for the Peruvian government to cancel harvesting seasons, but not unprecedented. No quota was issued for fishing in north-central waters for the second season of 2014 when Peru was affected by that year's El Niño, for example.
For the whole of 2022, Peru's anchovy landings reached around 4.25 million metric tons compared with 4.48 million metric tons compared in 2021.
Peru accounts for around 20 percent of global fishmeal supply although fish oil yields vary widely from year to year.
As a main producer, Peru's anchovy quota announcement is always keenly awaited by the fishmeal industry and aquafeed producers wanting to know how the quota might impact prices of their main raw materials.