At only about five inches long, the Peruvian anchoveta seems an unlikely contender for the title of the world's most heavily fished species, by weight. And yet, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the diminutive silver forager is “the most heavily exploited fish in world history,” with annual catches in Chile and Peru sometimes totaling more than 9 million tons. That's between two and three times the United States' annual catch of all fish species.
Most of that haul is caught in Peru, making the country the world’s top exporter of fishmeal for livestock and fish farms.
In April, the Government of Peru instituted fishing quotas to boost shoals of the depleted fishery. But Peruvian marine biologist Patricia Majluf is heading up another campaign to save the anchovy. The concept is to elevate the status of the fish from lowly fishmeal to a dinner table delicacy for local Peruvians.
At Co.Exist, Michael Coren explains:
Majluf, a former seal biologist, has single-handedly ignited a campaign to raise the status of the anchovy from lowly fish meal to a common foodstuff. To help, she’s recruited one of the most powerful emerging forces to shape public opinion in the last decade: celebrity chefs. "If you want to add value to produce, what better way to turn it into beautiful food," says Majluf. "You’re creating a lot of value." While a ton of fish meal might fetch several hundred dollars, the same fish sliced into fillets can be worth hundreds of times more.
Today, there is more achnoveta served to hungry Peruvians than ever before. During the last seven years, the percent of the fishery devoted to food has risen from less than 5 percent to more than 15 percent. This share contributes about one-third, or $3 billion, of the fishery’s total value.
Of course, managing the anchovy fisheries is challenge in a country where poverty and corruption is rampant:
"Poor people don’t care much about sustainability. They want to survive and feed their families," says Majluf. "You need to show that good governance and sustainable use of resources is good for everyone."
(via Fast Co.Exist)