An ICIJ Investigation Plunder in the Pacific

Pacific fish stocks decimated

s other fisheries are pushed to their limits, giant trawlers move southward toward Antarctica to catch what is left.

Key findings

  • 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.

About this investigation

Read More

More articles

As aggressive, unregulated fishing continues in the South Pacific, BBC World News broadcast a documentary featuring the ICIJ’s probe into the plundering of jack mackerel.

April 19, 2012, 1:00 pm Ajani Winston

Aggressive fishing has decimated jack mackerel stocks in the southern Pacific in the past two decades – from 30 million metric tons…

Plunder in the Pacific

Video: El último pez

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reporter Mar Cabra explains why the fate of a small fish, jack mackerel, foretells progressive collapse…

Plunder in the Pacific

Interactive: Track the Lafayette

Vessels that catch small pelagic fish like jack mackerel roam the oceans in search of fish. Here we follow the Lafayette as…

Plunder in the Pacific

Graphic: Who owns the fish?

Powerful families, with interests in everything from gas stations to mining and the news media, control most of the jack mackerel fishing…

Lawmakers propose fishing ban for European fleets that target decimated jack mackerel

Dutch Parliament debates ICIJ’s Pacific overfishing investigation

Dutch government debates a ban to catches of threatened jack mackerel that vessels from the Netherlands and other European countries have overfished in the South Pacific.

Allowable catch would bypass scientists’ advice to protect the decimated jack mackerel stock

Fishing nations fail to stop plunder in the South Pacific

Fishing states meeting in Santiago, Chile, left the way open for fleets to catch jack mackerel far beyond the 390,000-metric ton limit that scientists say is vital to protect the already decimated species.

Rampant cheating and lax controls allowed 630,000 tons of anchoveta to go missing between 2009 and 2011.

Jack mackerel down 90 percent in 20 years in once-rich seas; world’s largest trawlers compete for what’s left.

Plunder in the Pacific

Lords of the fish

ABOARD THE SANTA MARÍA II, Chile — It is 10:30 a.m. on an August Sunday, seven miles off Corral port, and crewmen…

Peru is second only to China as a fishing nation, and its main catch is anchoveta. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, with the Lima-based investigative center IDL-Reporteros, decided to analyze how the anchoveta fishery — the world’s largest — was regulated and controlled.

El stock de jurel ha disminuido un 90% en sólo 20 años en unas aguas meridionales donde antes abundaba el pescado

Looting the Seas is an award-winning project by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists looking at forces that are rapidly emptying the…

Stay informed

Icij on twitter

About us

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is a global network of more than 200 investigative journalists in 70 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigative stories.

Learn more

Support us

Independent, fearless investigative journalism is expensive and ICIJ relies on your support.

Help protect global societies from unprecedented threats by supporting independent investigative journalism.