Last week, Oceana in Chile recommended that the Chilean government lower the total annual catch quota for common hake—a severely overexploited species— in 2015 by about 1,000 tons because of declines. According to Chile’s Fisheries Development Institute, common hake biomass declined by over six percent this year.
“Increasing the quota for hake will only accelerate the collapse of this fishery, which will mean the loss of thousands of jobs,” says Oceana’s vice president for South America Alex Muñoz in a press release. “While no clear signs of recovery are evident, we must maintain low catch levels and not be tempted to make social policy through quotas. There are other ways to come to the aid of fishermen who need it most.”
After meeting for three days, experts comprising the Technical Scientific Committee for hake recommended to decrease catch quotas from just under 21,000 tons to nearly 20,000 in 2015. Based on that recommendation, the Ministry of Economy will then make the final decision.
According to Chile’s Under-Secretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SUBPESCA), hake catches declined by 70 percent between 2001 and 2013. SUBPESCA also says that about 90 percent of hake captured in 2012 were juveniles—meaning they were not able to reproduce before being caught. In addition, the catch size of common hake has decreased by about five inches since 2001—clear evidence of overexploitation, according to an earlier press release.
“In the absence of drastic actions today, resources like common hake and others will simply vanish, leaving thousands of fishermen unemployed and taking away one of the country’s main food sources. No matter how painful some actions may seem they are the only road towards a brighter future for fisheries,” Muñoz added.
In September, Oceana in Chile presented a recovery plan for common hake to the Chilean government, including protections for juveniles and minimum catch sizes. Other recommendations included switching from bottom trawling to cleaner fishing gear to allow smaller common hake to escape, protecting common hake spawning areas, and 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).
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.