Asian, European and Latin American fleets have devastated fish stocks in the southern Pacific, once among the world’s richest waters.
Since 2006, jack mackerel stocks have declined by nearly two-thirds. The oily fish is a staple in Africa, but people elsewhere are unaware that it is in their forkfuls of farmed salmon as a vital component of fishmeal for aquaculture.
National interests and geopolitical rivalry have blocked efforts to ratify a regional fisheries management organization to impose binding regulations to rescue jack mackerel from further collapse.
In Chile, a handful of companies controlled by wealthy families own rights to 87 percent of the jack mackerel catch; with government backing, they have secured unrealistically high quotas — beyond what scientists say are essential to save the stock.
In Peru, the world’s second largest fishing nation, widespread cheating at fishmeal plants allows companies to overfish and evade taxes. At least 630,000 tons of anchoveta – worth nearly $200 million as fishmeal – “vanished” over two and a half years.