Peru's governement has suggested that the all-important first anchovy season in the South American nation's north central fishing zone may potentially not take place because of the high volume of juvenile fish, the website of Peruvian financial publicationGestion reported.

Production Minister Raul Perez-Reyes is waiting for a report from scientists from Peru's Marine Institute (IMARPE) before deciding whether fishing can go ahead.

IMARPE makes recommendations to government officials on quota sizes.

While results from earlier separate scientific surveys proved unsatisfactory, there also is concern about a summer spawning that was less intense than expected for this season.

Scientists are also monitoring for potential impacts on the stock from this year's El Niño.

The latest scientific expedition began on May 2 and will end at the end of the month.

“In the first week we will have the report to see how the biomass is, which will allow us to define whether or not there will be this first fishing season of the year," Perez-Reyes said according to Gestion.

"The conclusions of the first report were that it was not yet the time to define due to the large number of juveniles. Between the first week and mid-June, we are going to see if it makes sense to issue the quota."

An official from Peru's National Fisheries Society (SNP) told IntraFish there was no further update on the situation.

In its first quarter results, Austevoll Seafood, the Norwegian parent of Peruvian anchovy fishing firm and fishmeal producer Austral Group, alluded to the latest scientific expedition, noting that the delay "attests to good fish stock management and application of the precautionary principle to avoid depleting the number of smaller fish," the company said.

It's rare that the Peruvian government would 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.

Last year, the government authorized a 2.792 million metric ton anchovy quota for the first season in north-central waters.

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.

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