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Towards sustainable fisheries: Peruvian government commits to the formalization of one of the largest fisheries in the world

After almost 5 years waiting, the future of hundreds of small scale fishermen in La Islilla and La Tortuga, Paita (Piura), took on a promising new direction.

After almost 5 years waiting, the future of hundreds of small scale fishermen in La Islilla and La Tortuga, Paita (Piura), took on a promising new direction. Today, the Ministry of Production delivered fishing permits for more than 500 vessels, belonging to almost 360 shipowners. This fleet represents approximately 20% of the national catch of mahi mahi and giant squid in Peru. Hence, this formalization process represents a major step towards the sustainability of one of the main economic activities in the country.
 
It is estimated that over 60% of artisanal vessels in Peru are informal, which means they do not have a valid fishing permit. "Illegal fishing is one of the main problems threatening the sustainability of marine resources in Peru. Therefore, we encourage the formalization of artisanal fisheries by promoting measures that ensure the traceability of their products from the sea to the table, complying with the requirements of international markets, and the adoption of mechanisms for monitoring and controlling the management of these fisheries", explains Evelyn Luna-Victoria, Manager of the Marine Program of WWF Peru.
 
 
Key species and resources
 
Giant squid (Dosidicus gigas)and mahi mahi(Coryphaena hippurus)fisheries in Peru represent about half of the world's annual catches for both species, with national landing averages of 468,363 and 49,687 tonnes per year, respectively. It is estimated that the fishermen cooperatives in La Islilla and La Tortuga capture approximately 20% of the giant squid and 15% of the mahi mahi, throughout the country.
 
In 2017, national exports of mahi mahi surpassed 95 million dollars, and exports of giant squid reached over 405 million dollars, the United States being the main importer of mahi mahi; and China and Spain, of giant squid.
 
Fishing cooperatives, a legacy for the future of local communities
 
"Creating the cooperative has been very important for our whole community because our livelihoods depend on fishing, and this has reduced our costs by 30%. The cooperative is a great legacy we are leaving for our future generations. Now, our dream is to continue growing and export directly to other countries, "says John William Siancas, a member of the La Islilla cooperative.
 
A long journey of five years has been completed to achieve the formalization of these fishermen, culminating with the recognition of their cooperatives thanks to supreme decree DS-003-2018-PRODUCE, which aims to strengthen formalization policies and promote the sustainable development of the artisanal fisheries, through better control and surveillance.
 
Julio Prado knows the challenges of his trade well. He belongs to the third generation of fishermen from La Tortuga. Their activity demands long tasks that can last 25 days in the high seas areas under extreme conditions, for which they use vessels of up to 32.6 m3 of storage capacity and manual fishing gear. "We have overcome many obstacles. It was difficult to achieve the formalization because the costs were high, it took a long time and there was a lack of information. That’s why WWF’s support has been so important. Thanks to the formalization we hope to have a better future with greater profits, "he says.
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