Chilean Jack Mackerel
Fishery Improvement Project
Last update: April 2013
Name of Species: Chilean jack mackerel (Trachurus murphyi)
FIP Scope/Scale: Fishery level
Fishery Location: for map see Chilean jack mackerel
FIP Contact: If you would like more information about the FIP or wish to support the FIP, please contact SFP.
SONAPESCA (Chile’s National Fishing Society)
SNP (Peruvian National Society of Fisheries)
SPRFMO (South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization)
See Summary and Sustainability Info tabs at Chilean jack mackerel
Date Publicly Announced: 2010
FIP Stage: 5, FIP is delivering improvement in the water
Current Improvement Recommendations:
- Accomplish all South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (SPRFMO) interim measures relating to reducing fishing mortality and catch reporting
- Conduct research to clarify identification of Chilean jack mackerel stocks
- Minimize juvenile portion of catches in both national and international jurisdictions.
This fishery, of extreme ecological importance for the Southern Pacific, has recently collapsed. Historically, Chile has accounted for 80 percent of total landings, reaching around 4 million tonnes in the 1990s, but 2011 landings decreased dramatically, by 75 percent to about 500,000 tonnes.
This stock presently straddles international as well as Chilean and Peruvian waters. Recently, a combination of depletion and migratory phenomena, not yet well understood, have given more importance to the international waters fishery, where new and returning players operating pelagic trawlers under the flags of China, Vanuatu, the EU, Faroe Islands, South Korea, Belize, and Russia have been competing with Chilean and Peruvian traditional purse-seiners. Asian and European companies are also operating trawlers under the Peruvian flag.
Chile uses this fishery mostly as a source for fishmeal and fish oil production, with primary markets in China and Europe. Peru sends fresh Chilean jack mackerel to local markets and exports canned products to other markets. In contrast, the international waters fishery produces frozen fish for African markets.
SFP has developed many contacts at the supply chain level, including with European and Asian companies participating in the fishery. Several aquaculture feed producers in Europe have expressed interest in encouraging a FIP focused on this resource. As a result, SFP has been in contact with companies from the EU and Asia to increase leverage for sustainability and CeDePesca (a South American NGO associated with SFP on this FIP) continues to hold meetings with local players in Chile and Peru.
The beginning of the FIP:
Exploratory work and outreach to the industry and stakeholders was conducted in 2008. In 2009, a South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO) was formed to address issues in international waters. SFP participated at one of the RFMO meetings, and CeDePesca has participated in the most recent ones, held in Colombia and Chile. Prior to the 2012 ratification of the RFMO, interim and voluntary measures were adopted to register and limit fishing efforts and catches, and to try to deter new fishers in the fishery. However, these encouraging steps have been insufficient to recover the stock.
Unlike at the meeting in Colombia, all members at the last preparatory conference in Chile adhered to the interim measures, over-reporting noticeably decreased, and members reached a decision not to include landings from 2011 onward in future quota allocations (proposed by CeDePesca) in order to help slow the “race for fish.”
- Stock has collapsed and reproductive biomass is well under its limit reference point (around 5%)
- A “race for over-reporting” threatens accuracy of science and management measures
- The fishery has developed in waters beyond national jurisdictions, with Asian and European companies acting as the main players
- RFMO interim measures clearly have been insufficient for the recovery of the stock
- Spawning season closure (at least November through December 2011) is required
- Additional compliance and enforcement measures should be put in place.
- Promote sustainability in local and international fishery management and fishing operations.
- Implement changes in purchasing and fishing practices, if necessary, to reduce problems such as misreporting and overfishing in a realistic, effective, and low-cost manner.
- Based on the results of MSC pre-assessment, help implement corrective action, if required, in both the fishery and private fishing practices.
- Ensure that stakeholders are aware of the improvements.
For 2011, Chile agreed to drastically cut its historical total allowable catch (TAC) by 76 percent to 315,000 tonnes, (approximately 40% of 2010 landings).
The RFMO second preparatory conference in 2011 adopted some measures to prevent companies located in Peru, Russia, and China from over-reporting in order to be in better position for negotiations when future quotas are allocated. At the third preparatory conference, over-reporting decreased notably and participants discussed deleting 2010 over-reporting from the records. In addition, transparency on information is much improved in Chile and Peru.
Although China, the Faroe Islands, and South Korea did not support curtailment of catches in 2011, China finally harvested 50 percent of the 2010 level in 2011, and the Faroe Islands didn’t issue licenses for Chilean jack mackerel throughout 2011. All three countries supported the 2012 interim measures in their entirety. For the first quarter of 2012, the Chinese fleet operating on Chilean jack mackerel was reduced from five to three vessels, while the EU and Faroe fleet are not participating in the fishery in 2012. On the other hand, Peru has been participating with three vessels, while in 2011 there were none. In regard to national jurisdictions, Ecuador didn’t catch any fish, Peru took 120,000 tonnes and closed the fishery, and Chile landed 210,000 tonnes (86% of the TAC) by May 31. Meaningfully, Chile just harvested 4,000 tonnes in international waters, which could indicate a stock displacement towards the shore.
A new joint stock assessment meeting was held in September 2011 and no new trends have been detected since then. The new interim measures appear to be aligned with scientific recommendations, but the uncertainty about accomplishments is high. Some NGOs have started to discuss eventual support for a moratorium in international waters in 2013 if the scientific report doesn’t show proportional progress in the recovery of the stock, and CeDePesca proposed this as a motion to be discussed at the World Conservation Congress to be held in Jeju (South Korea) in September 2012.
Given the lack of recovery, the Chilean National Fisheries Council approved a new curtailment to 252,000 tonnes for 2012. After Chile’s unilateral reduction, participants at the third preparatory conference in Colombia of the South Pacific RFMO (with active participation from CeDePesca and key help from SFP regarding European players) made important efforts to try to recover the stock. While a general cut of 40 percent was approved and voluntarily adopted by each country in 2010, this reduction was increased to 60 percent for 2012. All the countries already involved in the fishery supported this measure. Furthermore, a proposal from CeDePesca, formally introduced at the conference by Vanuatu, was approved stating that catches from 2011 onwards will not be considered as part of national quota allocation when the SPRFMO becomes binding. This measure provides a disincentive for vessels operating with the sole goal of reinforcing future negotiation positions at a cost of negative profit.
April – June
In June 2012, Chile defined 40,000 tonnes of Chilean jack mackerel as bycatch of the anchovy fishery in the northern boundary of the country following scientific advice from IFOP (Instituto de Fomento Pesquero – Institute of Fisheries Development). This amount is included within the TAC approved in December 2011 (252,000 tonnes), which at the time exceeded the scientific recommendation by 40 percent, although still 24 percent lower than in 2011.
July – September
Chile ratified the SPRFMO agreement and the regional management fisheries management (RFMO) organization has entered into a binding agreement, making management measures mandatory for every Member State. The first formal session of the RFMO Commission will take place in January 2013 in Auckland.
In August 2012, members of CeDePesca visited the Peruvian National Congress and, at a meeting with the Production Commission, discussed the need for Peru to promptly join the RFMO in order to participate on equal basis.
In August 2012, a meeting between CeDePesca, representatives of Peruvian National Society of Fisheries (SNP), and IMARPE was held at SNP headquarters to discuss CeDePesca’s proposals, the need for reinforcing the scientific work, and the importance of Peru being a full member of the SPRFMO.
In September 2012, high seas fishing companies revealed a failure of harvests (information not yet added to the SPRFMO site), and that the fleets were withdrawn from fishing grounds very early in the season. Harvests in Chile and Peru were similar to the levels of 2011 (214 and 166 thousand tonnes, respectively).
October – December
October 2012, the SPRFMO Scientific Working Group (SWG) met in Lima, Peru. Important discussions were planned about the population structure for Chilean jack mackerel, stock status, and management measures, which CeDePesca suggested should not be limited to establishing a TAC, but should also include spatial and seasonal measures.
The stock assessment showed a slight recovery of SSB in relation to the previous year’s report.
In December 2012, Chile set its national TAC over the scientific recommendation to 282,000 tonnes, based mostly on political/diplomatic considerations.
January – March
In January 2013, the first meeting of the SPRFMO Commission took place. The main discussion turned around the scientific advice for the 2013 TAC of jack mackerel, which, rather than being made relative to reference points and a recovery strategy, was made only considering a short- term goals such as “increase of SSB in regard to 2012.” Despite eventual approval of a TAC that not aimed at long-term recovery of the stock (438,000 tonnes), some improvements were highlighted in a final statement by CeDePesca:
- The new conservation measures expressly mentioned a total volume to be harvested in the entire occurrence area for this species, including the high seas and the national jurisdictions, which is completely necessary when dealing with a straddling stock.
- A resolution (proposed by Chile and supported by the NGOs) established a format for SWG work and reporting in the years to come, including the need for target and limit reference points, a recovery strategy, and aspects of the eco-system-based approach.
- Control and compliance mechanisms have been refined
- The decision not to account for landings starting in 2011 for future national quota allocation discussions has been maintained. This is now the Commission is keeping an incentive for not increasing fishing effort artificially in the area.
After the SPRFMO meeting, Peru established a TAC of 80,000 tonnes for the industrial fleet, which could mean a reduction by 30% in relation to 2012 landings. Chile still did not reduce its national TAC from 282,000 to 250,000 tonnes in order to be aligned with SPRFMO resolution.
Click here for a more comprehensive description of FIP results