Peru's vanishing fish stocks 'devastated' by corruption and growing fishmeal demand

Soaring global demand for fishmeal primarily for animal feed or fish farms, including salmon, is wrecking havoc on the once abundant fish stocks of the southern Pacific

The fish stocks of the southern Pacific and in particular Peru are being plundered by widespread cheating and overfishing, according to a new investigation.

Peru is the world’s second largest fishing nation after China, with the majority of its catch converted into fishmeal, a feed for farmed fish and pigs. More than a million tons a year exported mostly to Asia, in a trade worth $1.6 billion.

An Ecologist investigation in 2008 linked fishmeal produced in Peru to salmon farms in Scotland - highlighting a host of unreported environmental and social costs linked to the industry.

The fishmeal industry says environmental impacts are now being improved in Peru. The International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation told the Ecologist that its members were building a waste water treatment facility and new pipeline in the port of Chimbote, where the Ecologist investigation focused, to safely discharge water offshore.

The new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) uncovered rampant fraud, with many fishing companies cheating their quotas and leaving species like anchoveta and jack mackerel severely overfished.

The findings fit into a larger picture of overfishing and scant control in the southern Pacific, say the ICIJ, driven in part by Asian and European fleets that have depleted other oceans and now head south to waters off Peru and Chile.

You can watch the investigation by the Ecologist Film Unit below or read the original investigation, 'How our growing appetite for salmon is devastating coastal communities in Peru'.


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