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peru: bringing fisheries back from the brink of collapse

The Peruvian Sea is one of the world’s richest, not only in terms of fish numbers, but also the great diversity of species. The most important species are anchovies, as the base for one of Peru’s most important sources of income: the fish meal and fish oil industry, which generates two percent of the GDP and 150,000 jobs.


peru fishing and corporatesUnfortunately, these precious resources are gravely threatened by improper and corrupt administration by government authorities, and bad practices of large fishery corporations. Negative impacts include waste discharge into the sea, gas emissions, depletion of anchovy stocks, and deteriorating labour conditions. And although the European Union imposes good environmental and social practices on its own food suppliers (including those for fish meal and oil), it does not demand the same from suppliers of fish products further down at the beginning of this supply chain.

This project by Friends of the Earth Peru / Asociación Civil Labor sought to promote the sustainable exploitation of Peruvian maritime resources and to protect its biodiversity by raising awareness about the serious dangers of the current exploitation model. Another objective was to see a bill, containing proposals from the fishery sector’s main actors, approved and enacted by Parliament. Finally, FoE Peru wanted to collaborate with the actors in Peru’s fishing industry, to apply pressure for an appropriate legal framework, and its enforcement.

what happened: To reach these objectives, FoE Peru promoted the book “La situación crítica de la pesquería industrial en el Perú y alternativas de solución” (The critical situation of Peru’s fishery industry and proposed solutions), which covers the results of research and consultation with fishing industry’s various sectors. They also printed and distributed a quarterly bulletin about the fishing industry crisis and proposed solutions. They created a virtual network of the sector’s key actors and allied parties, to provide them with relevant information and to coordinate actions. And finally, they raised awareness through media statements.

Constructive communication and coordination with Friends of the Earth Netherlands and Friends of the Earth Europe was established during the Economic Justice – Resisting Neoliberalism program meeting of Friends of the Earth International in Uruguay. At that time, FoE Europe agreed to consider lobbying European buyers of fish meal and oil, to compel them to demand good social and environmental practices from Peru’s producers and its government.

what is changing: The book and bulletin allowed FoE Peru to reach relevant authorities and civil society leaders, who decided to act to prevent biodiversity loss and collapse of the fisheries. The virtual network they created has become a permanent one. Information and coordination were achieved in timely manner, and FoE Peru gained some media coverage, mainly in the provinces.

Unfortunately, the bill with proposals from the fishery sector’s main actors has not yet been approved, due to pressure exerted by big corporations and weakness of so-called “progressive” congressmen. It remains for the bill to be approved by the Parliamentary Production Commission, by Congress, and then enacted by the President. However, FoE Peru is working with their civil society allies to bring their influence to bear on the new Production Commission and on regional governments.

what was learned: Major media outlets, greatly influenced by big corporations, have tended not to cover this issue. To break through this barrier, FoE Peru turned to alternative media formats: bulletins, the internet, and media outlets not dominated by corporations or the central government. They also participated in every fishing-related event to inform stakeholders about the threat to fisheries and sustainability, as well as possible solutions.

what’s next:
FoE Peru will continue to work toward achieving the project’s main objectives by raising awareness about this problem, exerting more pressure on the new Production Commission and on regional governments.

with thanks to our funders: the dutch ministry of foreign affairs

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