Status of and trends in the use of small pelagic fish species for reduction fisheries and for human consumption in Chile
- The main aim of this report is to review the status of and future trends in Chilean small pelagic fisheries. The report discusses the implication of using small pelagic fish species for direct human consumption and as the main protein ingredient in aquafeeds for the sustainable development of the Chilean fisheries and aquaculture industries. The fisheries sector represents an important industry in Chile, and its contribution to both the national economy and global supplies is significant. However, future development will require an increased emphasis on the sustainable use of natural resources. Chile is making concerted efforts to regulate all fishing activity and has given special priority to ensuring the sustainable development of this industry. The total Chilean fishery landing in 2006 was around 4.9 million tonnes, which represents a significant decrease in comparison with the previous year and a volume that is 5 percent lower than the average for the period 2001–2005. This volume originates from two main sources: the capture fisheries sector, with 4.08 million tonnes and the aquaculture sector, with an estimated production of around 822.7 thousand tonnes. In 2006, 61 percent of the capture fisheries sector was contributed by pelagic resources, a figure that is slightly less than the value reported for the previous year. Trends in Chilean fishery and aquaculture production over the last ten years reveal the increasing importance of the aquaculture sector. With the increase in aquaculture production, the use of fishmeal and fish oil in aquafeeds has increased significantly in Chile. The main pelagic species used for the production of fishmeal and fish oil, and the most important pelagic resources in Chile, are the Inca scad or Chilean jack mackerel (Trachurus murphyi), the anchoveta (Engraulis ringens) and two sardines (the South American pilchard, Sardinops sagax, and the Araucarian herring or common sardine, Strangomera bentincki), which contributed 45, 30 and 13 percent of the total accumulated landings for 2006, respectively. However, marked reduction in the captures of these species has been constant. The main species destined for the production of fishmeal and fish oil come from the industrial and artisanal pelagic fisheries. Anchoveta contributes 41 percent of the total fishmeal production, followed by jack mackerel with 27 percent; trash fish/low-value fish represent 15 percent, while other species contribute only 3.3 percent. In the last decade, the fishmeal production declined by almost 50 percent because of the substantial decrease in landings from these fisheries. In 2005, 1.78 million tonnes of processed fishery products were produced. Fishmeal and fish oil represented around half of the products processed, followed by frozen products, with a 27 percent share, while fresh chilled and canned products together comprised 17 percent. From the second half of the decade 1995–2005, the production of fishmeal from overall pelagic fish landings was more or less constant, averaging 21 percent; however, canned product production from the same species increased slightly, rising from 2.1 to 2.8 percent. This means that the increased production of canned products from pelagic fish is directly correlated with the reduction in fishmeal production. Of the total fishmeal produced in Chile, approximately 40 percent (340 thousand tonnes) is used for domestic consumption. Given that Chilean aquafeed production is on the order of 850 thousand tonnes, the inclusion of fishmeal in these feeds is around 240 thousand tonnes. The limited availability of fishmeal, unstable prices and a principle of economic and environmental sustainability has driven the aquaculture industry to look for alternative protein sources. Consequently, the reduction in fishmeal inclusion levels seen over the last few years has been substantial, a great portion of the fishmeal component in aquafeeds having been replaced by different plant and animal protein substitutes. Fishmeal substitution in the Chilean aquafeed industry was initiated around ten years ago as a direct result of the reduction in capture volumes of small pelagic species. During the last decade, the capture fisheries sector has been characterized by a remarkable reduction in the labour force. Two of the main causes of this diminution are a reduction in the fishing fleet and an increased efficiency of processing plants. A sustained Status and trends on the use of small pelagic fish species in Chile 291 increase in the labour force in the aquaculture sector might compensate for the reduced employment in the capture fisheries sector. The salmon aquaculture industry is one of the most important employment generators in many areas of Chile, where poverty levels are much lower than the national average. The employment generated by this rising industry has a positive impact on poverty indicators for rural communities. The hypothetical scenario of redirecting the use of jack mackerel from fishmeal production to the production of food for direct human consumption might have a positive effect. However, from the point of view of increased food security and poverty alleviation, the impact of the alternative use of this resource for human consumption might not be very significant, given that its products are not in high demand and would be mainly destined for export. Lowering the production of fishmeal will not have a negative impact on national salmon aquaculture, considering that at the present levels of fishmeal inclusion in salmonid aquafeeds there is still a surplus of fishmeal that is generally destined for export. Still, there could be a socio-economic benefit resulting from increased employment though greater processing opportunities.