Earlier this month, Oceana in Chile presented a recovery plan for common hake, a severely overexploited species, to the Chilean government. Among the recommendations, the recovery plan stresses the importance of protecting juvenile common hake and setting a minimum catch size of about 15 inches. Common hake catches have declined by 70 percent from 2001 to 2013.
“The moment of truth for Chilean fisheries has arrived. If we don’t take drastic measures now, species such as common hake and others will simply disappear, leaving thousands of fishermen without a job and the country without one of their main food resources. How painful some measures may be, they are the only way to create a better future for fisheries” Oceana in Chile executive director Alex Muñoz said in a press release.
Since 2001, the catch size of common hake has decreased by about five inches—clear evidence of overexploitation, says the release. About 90 percent of common hake caught in 2012 were juveniles that had not yet reached reproductive maturity.
To help this fishery recover, Oceana in Chile provided a number of recommendations in addition to the minimum catch sizes and protection of juveniles. These measures include:
- Requiring the State to implement a mandatory switch from gill nets to cleaner fishing gear to allow smaller common hake to escape nets. This would entail replacing about 1,532 gill nets in the artisanal fishing sector, which Oceana recommends that the State provides the resources.
- Protecting common hake spawning areas by banning bottom trawling at least during the reproductive season of common hake, and extending the closed fishery season from August 15 to October 15.
- Keeping common hake fishing quotas as low as possible, following recommendations of scientific committees.
- Working to combat illegal fishing so that all recovery efforts can be effective, including requiring accurate labeling and traceability in the seafood chain for common hake.
In August, Chile’s Under-Secretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SUBPESCA) announced the closure of Chile’s crustacean trawl fleet for the month of September in certain areas to allow common hake to recover. SUBPESCA synced the temporary ban with reproductive activity of common hake, which occurs during the month of September. While Oceana applauded the temporary ban, they said these protections weren’t enough.
Oceana in Chile advocates for sustainable fisheries, such as by working to combat illegal, unreported, and irregular fishing, working to reduce bycatch, and establishing Marine Protected Areas. Click here to learn more.
Take a look below to watch a video by Oceana in Chile on their efforts to recover common hake (Note: This video is in Spanish).