Fishery Improvement Project
Last update: April 2017
Argentine red shrimp, Patagonian shrimp (Pleoticus muelleri)
FIP Stage according to CASS progress table: 4, FIP is delivering improvement in policies or practices
FIP Rating according to SFP rating system: A (Exceptional Progress, Mar 2017)
FIP Rating according to MSC benchmarking tool: Initial (Jul 2016): 0.55
FIP Profile at FisheryProgress.org: Argentina offshore red shrimp – bottom-trawl (Sep 2016)
San Jorge Gulf (provinces of Chubut and Santa Cruz), Chubut provincial waters up to Rawson, and national waters between 42° and 47°S.
If you would like more information about the FIP or if you wish to support it, please contact Alejandra Cornejo.
Pesquera San Isidro
CeDePesca (technical support)
Currently unavailable at Fishsource.com
Date Publicly Announced:
Current Improvement Recommendations:
- Integrate available databases at the federal and provincial levels
- Increase data transparency
- Integrate the information obtained by different onboard observers programs
- Incorporate the ecosystem approach to fisheries management
- Improve compliance with the rules on using devices with grids to release fish bycatch species
The Argentine red shrimp (Pleoticus muelleri) is one of the main resources in the Argentine Sea. Its bottom trawl fishery is characterized by a large fluctuation in the annual level of declared landings. Between two successive years, differences of as much as 35 thousand tonnes have been recorded (Bertuche et al., 2000, 2005). These fluctuations are mainly due to environmental factors affecting the early stages of the red shrimp life cycle, and to the fishing effort applied to concentrations during the recruiting process.
The National Institute of Fisheries Research and Development (INIDEP) began the research dedicated to this resource in the 1980s. An initial model was proposed to explain the dynamics of red shrimp in Southern waters, according to which the reproduction process would take place mainly at the north of the San Jorge Gulf, and recruitment at the south of the Gulf, with two dispersive phenomena towards the south and northeast. Subsequent studies showed that the reproduction process takes place throughout the entire Patagonian coast, focusing on three areas: at the south of Rawson, at the north of the San Jorge Gulf and at the south of the San Jorge Gulf. In these locations, the reproduction process would have different start dates and would have different durations and intensities (De Carli et al, 2012). This would seem to suggest the existence of different sub-stocks of Argentine red shrimp; however, the evidence is insufficient to differentiate them. Currently, the fishery is managed as if it acts upon a single stock.
The difficulty in identifying functional units resulted in specific management tools that seek to eliminate or mitigate the factors that could negatively affect the abundance of red shrimp, and were set in response to an oversizing of fishing effort that led to overfishing in the mid-90s. Currently, there is a system of mobile closures, which are added to other restrictions such as minimum mesh size at the back of the net, escape devices for juvenile hake, limited time per fishing haul, towing speed, height at the mouth of the net, night fishing ban, limits for the allowable amount of broken specimens and of specimens of sizesless than 70 units per kilo (up to 20% of total processed weight). The response to these management measures has been positive, although the reticence to make use of escape devices for juvenile hake persists, causing a negative interaction between this fishery and the Argentine hake (Merluccius hubbsi) fishery located south of 41°S, which is currently in recovery after an extended period of depletion. This interaction is much more pronounced for the freezing fleet, and less pronounced for the coastal fleet based in the port of Rawson.
Moreover, the fishery also interacts with other species, as occurs in many other similar fisheries. Among the bycatch species are the following elasmobranchs: picked dogfish (Squalus acanthias), short spinespur dog (Squalus mitsukurii), narrow mouthed cat shark (Schroederichthys bivius), tope shark (Galeorhinus galeus), narrow nose smooth hound (Mustelus schmitii) and rays from the Squatina family (Cedrolaet al, 2012). Additionally, the interaction of the fishery and the habitat needs to be better characterized. There have been efforts to study the interaction with benthic communities but these have not had the necessary continuity.
Annually, the Argentine red shrimp fishery begins its activity at the south ofthe San Jorge Gulf between the months of March and April. By June and July, fishing operations are enabled in national waters outside the San Jorge Gulf, and from the start of the southern hemisphere Spring, catches are centeredat the north of the Gulf and off the coast of the province of Chubut (De Carli et al, 2012 ). The red shrimp fishery produced landings of around 80 thousand tonnes per year in the period 2009/2013, beating the historical record in 2013 when more than 100 thousand tonneswere landed.
The Argentine red shrimp industry is export-oriented. Its main markets are Spain, China, Italy, Japan, and the USA (Minagri, 2015).
At the start of the FIP, the fishery is undergoing a period of stability. The main issues regarding its sustainability are:
- The bycatch of hake (Merluccius hubbsi). While in recent years the estimated catches of hake have been declining, they are still significant: discards are in the order of 11 thousand tonnes. The Southern stock of Argentine hake is currently in an initial process of recovery after a long period of depletion.
- Escape devices lawfully admitted (Disela II and Hargril) are generally not used by the fishing fleet.
- The research campaigns conducted by INIDEP are not specifically aimed at the species and do not have the regularity needed to make year comparisons.
- The onboard observer programs of the provinces of Chubut and Santa Cruz and the onboard observer program for national waters do not work in a coordinated fashion and scientific data is not unified.
- To encourage an increase in the transparency of the scientific data.
- To promote the integration of the information obtained by the various on board observers programs.
- To encourage the incorporation of the ecosystem approach to fisheries management.
- To encourage an improvement in the enforcement of the rules related to the use of grids for fish escape.
- To promote inter-jurisdictional management and research for this fishery.
- To achieve an MSC certifiable status.
In October, stakeholders have decided to form a FIP that has been publicly announced and have agreed to conduct a gap analysis against the MSC standard to obtain a more detailed diagnosis regarding the obstacles to sustainability, in order to define a detailed action plan for 2015.
The FIP partners have decided to publish the MSC pre-assessment conducted by Bureau Veritas and have agreed to start implementing improvement actions as of 2016. An Action Plan has been drafted and is currently in discussion and expected to be adopted in January 2016.
On March 8th, at the Boston’s Seafood Expo North America, CeDePesca and the FIP partners -including new adherents- announced the implementation of the FIP to start in 2016. The FIP has gathered strong interest from local and international stakeholders and the list of FIP partners is expected to continue to grow before the signing of the final FIP Agreement.
April – June 2016
On April 4th, FIP partners met in the city of Buenos Aires to sign the FIP Agreement, complete with its Action Plan for the next three years. Twenty companies are currently signatories of the FIP Agreement.
On April 27th, a press conference was held during the Brussels Seafood Expo Global, where CeDePesca updated stakeholders, buyers and other interested parties on the advances of the Patagonian shrimp FIPs. Argentina’s Undersecretary of Fisheries, Mr. Tomás Gerpe, attended this conference and took the opportunity to pledge the government’s support for improvement efforts.
In May and June, new FIP partners Davigel and Greciamar were welcomed to the FIP.
July – September 2016
During FAO’s 32nd Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) held in Rome between July 11th and 15th, the Undersecretary of Fisheries at the federal level once again reiterated his support for the FIP.
Also in July, new FIP partners Food Partners Patagonia and Vepez were welcomed to the FIP.
In August, the Fisheries Federal Council convened the Commission for the Follow-up of the Argentine red shrimp fishery. The meeting was held at the FFC’s headquarters in Buenos Aires on August 26th.
At the meeting, the Province of Chubut required federal authorities to design a long-term Management Plan for Red Shrimp and the design and implementation of an inter-jurisdictional management plan, and an inter-jurisdictional commission. These requests are in line with this FIP’s objectives.
Also, on August 29th, the FIP’s Onboard Observers Program was launched. The first observer boarded Pesquera Veraz’ fishing vessel Valiente II on this date.
On the other hand, also in late August and after more than a year of successful partnership, the Patagonian National University of San Juan Bosco (UNPSJB, for its name in Spanish) and CeDePesca signed a Framework Collaboration Agreement formalizing the alliance and committing to continue working together for at least three more years. CeDePesca and the UNPSBJ have continued to coordinate the Onboard Observers with the aim of gathering data related to the impacts of this fishery on the ecosystem.
In September, the Argentine Undersecretary of Fisheries, Mr. Tomás Gerpe, once again publicly expressed the federal government’s intention of adopting a comprehensive management plan for Argentine red shrimp.
Also in September, the Argentine Undersecretariat of Fisheries issued Disposition N° 78-E/2016 mandating that Argentine red shrimp is included under the catch-certificate program as of November 1st, 2016. The program was set up in December 2014 and has been regularly expanded to include more species.
On the other hand, considering the high abundance of red shrimp in national waters, the Fisheries Federal Council decided to suspend catch limits per vessel temporarily and until the fishery closes in late October/early November.
October – December 2016
In October, FIP partners welcomed Cabomar as new partner to the FIP. An Addendum to the Framework Collaboration Agreement was presented to the Spain-based company in late August and was signed by its representatives in early October. Currently, there are 24 industry partners to this FIP.
The 2016 fishing season (that started on November 30th, 2015) closed on October 28th, with landings of approximately 160 thousand metric tons, a new record for the fishery. Landings showed an 18% increase in relation to the 2015 fishing season, according to preliminary data from the Undersecretariat of Fisheries.
During this quarter, no new fishing trips could be observed because the observers became unavailable for the task. CeDePesca resumed the process of recruitment of observers for the FIP’s Onboard Observers Program that is expected to be fully implemented in the 2017 fishing season. In December, the due permits process has been initiated and it will continue during the following months.
Also in December, CeDePesca finished a compilation of technical reports issued by INIDEP (National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development) in the last twelve years. These reports are being processed to extract any data that would be useful to assess the evolution of the stock’s abundance in recent years.
January – March 2017
In January, the analysis of the data compiled from INIDEP technical reports was completed. A report on preliminary indicators of the evolution of the Argentine red shrimp stock is now being drafted by CeDePesca.
In early February, CeDePesca, on behalf of FIP partners, sent a letter to the National Undersecretary of Fisheries to request a historical assessment of the stock’s abundance to determine if its exploitation rate is in line with its maximum sustainable yield or a proxy. The letter also asks for the preparation of a weekly CPUE series for each fleet stratum between 2004 and 2016. The weekly CPUE series would serve as an additional tool for the analysis of the evolution of the stock.
Also in February, in meetings with fishery authorities, FIP partners requested the resumption of INIDEP’s fishery-independent surveys. This action reinforced the formal letter sent by CeDePesca to the National Undersecretary of Fisheries on the behalf of the partners of the Argentine red shrimp onshore FIP (the letter and its answer are to be found in that FIP’s Progress Update table, here and here). The formal answer to the aforementioned letter was that the survey is scheduled to start in March with cooperation of the private sector.
On March 3rd, the Fisheries Federal Council met in the city of Buenos Aires and reviewed INIDEP’s independent survey plan. The plan was designed and agreed with the private sector, who provided a fishing vessel to be used as a scientific cruiser, as well as funds to carry out the survey. The selected fishing vessel was the Bogavante Segundo, owned by FIP partner Iberconsa. It should be noted that FIP partners Iberconsa and Newsan both offered their vessels to conduct the survey, and INIDEP researchers made their choice based on research criteria. The survey had a duration of 15 workdays and ended on March 23rd.
On March 22nd, the Argentine Chamber of Freezing Vessel Owners (CAPeCA) -to which several FIP partners are affiliated- sent a letter to the Fisheries Federal Council (CFP) asking for the summoning of the Commission for the Follow-up of the Argentine red shrimp fishery. The Fisheries Federal Council has instructed that this request is taken into account in the definition of the meeting agenda for 2017 (CFP Meeting Minute N°8-2017).
On April 3rd, CeDePesca delivered its first progress report for FIP partner. The report was discussed and it is now available in the detailed FIP Progress Table (see link at the end of this webpage).
On April 18th, the FIP’s Onboard Observers Program begun aboard the vessel Myrdoma F owned by FIP partner Congeladores Patagónicos.
On April 24th, some preliminary results of INIDEP’s independent survey that started in March with collaboration of the private sector were shared with stakeholders. The six specific objectives of the survey were: a) to confirm the presence of shrimp concentrations that are vulnerable and accessible to the commercial trawling shrimp nets in the Gulf of San Jorge and the northern coastal waters of Chubut; b) to analyze the spatial distributions of mature and egg-bearing females in order to estimate fecundity indices and size at first maturity; c) to obtain plankton samples in order to find shrimp eggs and larvae; d) to determine oceanographic conditions and the composition of the epi-benthic fauna associated to the main habitats related to the shrimp distribution in the survey area; e) to obtain samples for pathology studies to be conducted by INIDEP and SENASA; f) to sample and quantify bycatch. INIDEP considers that it is possible to infer that the first half of the 2017 fishing season will have similar catch levels to other fishing seasons in the recent past. It also advised to take measures to protect areas where small individuals are located, and measures to protect the areas where reproductive concentrations were distributed.