‘El Nino-like’ conditions hit Peruvian fishing, processing firms


Heavy rains during the last few days in Peru might impact the country’s fishing and processing industry, while some fishermen’s homes were damaged, sources told Undercurrent News.

Torrential rains, avalanches and floods have killed 43 people and affected another 546,052 in 24 regions of Peru so far this year, the Peruvian government said on March 7, El Comercio reported.

The fishing campaign in the eastern Pacific has become complicated by the emergence of a new phenomenon similar to El Nino, El Faro de Vigo reported.

Paita, where Vigo-based firms Profand and Interatlantic have their processing plants, has been one of the most affected areas.

Players in the processing and fishing sector, which fish mahi mahi, cephalopods, and swordfish in the Pacific, fear that the rains could be the effect of a phenomenon known as “El Nino Modoki”, which in Japanese means similar but different.

“Our factory was not affected but sea water temperature has greatly increased and eel dies while we fish it at 100m depth. We will stop fishing for three-to-four days to see if the situation improves,” PeruPez’s president, Dario Alvites, told Undercurrent on March 10.

The flooding have affected the homes of some workers, as well as slopes and some bridges, sources said.

Meanwhile, the mahi season in Peru has ended, while giant squid catches, which were at an “average level” last week, have dropped this week, possibly because higher water temperatures keep away this species’ food, according to sources.

Greater intensity of precipitation risks to reduce further giant squid catches, which dropped to a record low last year because of El Nino.

So far the factories of the Vigo-based companies in Peru have not been affected by the torrential rains.

Rossana Ortiz, Exalmar’s CEO

Peruvian fishing firm Exalmar’s CEO, Rossana Ortiz, told Undercurrent in Bergen, Norway on March 9 that recent weeks’ rains might potentially help rising EPA and DHA levels in anchovy stocks, improving the quality of raw material, as rivers carry good nutrients to sea during the rains.

Ortiz, however, pointed out that jack mackerel fishing at the moment was extremely positive in Peru and that she was expecting a further rebound in jack mackerel and giant squid exports in the second part of the year. She also said that anchovy landings were expected to rebound in 2017, after reaching their lowest level in 15 years during 2016.

But another Peruvian source told Undercurrent that the strong rains could also have negative effects.

Guayaquil, Ecuador on March 8 2017

Meanwhile, in neighbouring, heavy rains are impacting shrimp production and transport.

The situation in Peru has been complicated in the last two years by the effects of El Nino, which caused a drop in catches of fish or cephalopods, as well as by the obstacles imposed by the American sanitary authority to mahi, which is strategic for Pescanova’s expansion plan in the US.

A total of 1,909 line items were rejected last year at the US border, up 10% year-on-year.

Mahi emerged as the most rejected seafood item in 2016 with 286 line items refused entry to the US market, according to Seafood News.

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