Fishery Improvement Project
Last Update: October 2016
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)
FIP Rating according to MSC benchmarking tool: Initial (Jul 2015): 0.64; Second (Jul 2016): 0.88
FIP Profile at FisheryProgress.org: Argentina onshore red shrimp – bottom trawl (Sep 2016)
Fishery location: Provincial waters in the province of Chubut, Argentina. FAO zone: 41
Publicly Announced Date:
Current Improvement Recommendations:
- To characterize the interaction between the coastal fleet and bycatch species in Chubut’s provincial waters.
- To study the interaction between the fishery and the sea bottom, and its potential impacts on the ecosystem.
- To promote a systematic coordination among the different jurisdictions that define the management of this fishery resource.
- To promote a formal and regular assessment of the efficacy of the fishery’s management system.
The Patagonian shrimp (Pleoticus muelleri) fishery is the main crustacean fishery in Argentina and one of the most important marine resources in the Southwest Atlantic. In accordance with National Law Nº 24.922, Argentinean provinces have jurisdiction over the exploitation of living resources populating their interior waters and the Argentine sea adjacent to their coasts up to 12 nautical miles, measured from baselines, which allows for the characterization of provincial fisheries.
A fleet of coastal vessels of length less than 21m operates the fishery addressed by this FIP, using bottom-trawling nets along the coastal waters of the province of Chubut, mainly in the Restricted Fishing Effort Zone between Punta León and Cabo Dos Bahías (see fishery location map above). This coastal fleet has Rawson Port as its landing point and it conducts daily fishing trips from October to March.
In the 1980s, the National Institute for Fishery Research and Development (Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero, INIDEP) started studies geared toward Patagonian shrimp at a national level. The studies have shown that Pleoticus muelleri reproductive cycle occurs throughout the Patagonian coastal waters, and is concentrated at three sectors: south of Rawson, north of San Jorge Gulf and south of San Jorge Gulf. In these locations, the reproductive process has different starting dates and different intensities and time lengths (De Carli et al., 2012), which would point to the existence of Patagonian shrimp sub-stocks. However, evidence is not enough to properly differentiate them and therefore the fishery is currently managed as if it relied on a signle stock, requiring coordination in management between provincial jurisdictions (Chubut and Santa Cruz) and the federal jurisdiction in national waters.
In Chubut, there are management measures for Patagonian shrimp, namely mobile closures that are set in response to the stock status in real time. These closures are complemented by measures set at the national level and founded on the information provided by INIDEP and by Chubut’s Onboard Observers Program.
The Patagonian shrimp fishery produced landings of around 80 thousand metric tons in the period 2009/2013, surpassing the historical record in 2013 with landings above 100 thousand metric tons. The participation of the coastal fleet based at the Rawson Port has been around 20% during the last five years.
Regarding bycatch, contrary to the off-shore fishery, the coastal fishery based at Rawson is almost mono-specific. In 2013, 96.6% of the total landings was composed of Patagonian shrimp, and the remaining 3.4% was Argentine hake (Merluccius hubbsi) (INIDEP, 2013).
- To design and implement and Onboard Observers Program for the coastal fleet to gather data on bycatch.
- To conduct and Ecological Risk Assessment for the Effects of Fishing to serve as input to the management system and to an MSC full assessment.
- To promote the development of a minimum coordination protocol for fishery research and management among the different jurisdictions involved in the fishery’s administration.
- To raise awareness among and involve crew members in research activities related to the FIP.
- To promote the regular assessment of the efficacy of the fishery’s management system.
- To obtain MSC certification for the unit of assessment addressed by this FIP.
In October, interested stakeholders decided to build a FIP and to hire an MSC Pre-Assessment of the fishery, in order to obtain a more detailed diagnostic of the obstacles to its sustainability and define a detailed Action Plan.
In July, Bureau Veritas delivered its first draft for the fishery’s MSC pre-assessment.
In August, FIP participants signed a Framework Collaboration Agreement and Specific Agreement N°1 to formalize their commitment to the FIP and to define a Workplan.
In September, Bureau Veritas handed the MSC pre-assessment final report. FIP partners and CeDePesca held a meeting with the National Undersecretary of Fisheries, where the fishery’s strengths and weaknesses were discussed. It was agreed that FIP partners will collaborate in the promotion of a more robust inter-jurisdictional coordination mechanism during the following months.
Also in September, CeDePesca started to prepare the Onboard Observer program to be run by the FIP.
On November 4th, the first meeting with skippers, onboard observers and FIP partners was held in the city of Rawson, province of Chubut.
In January, the Onboard Observers Program officially started under the coordination of CeDePesca and with support from the Patagonian National University. The first samples were taken on board of the vessel “Calabria” (Conarpesa): In total, there are 36 ships of the coastal fleet of Rawson involved in this project.
By the end of the fishing season on March 31st, 294 hauls were observed during 67 fishing trips onboard vessels associated to FIP partners. The information collected includes data on bycatch and PET species interaction, which will be analyzed and published soon.
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 FIP. Argentina’s Undersecretary of Fisheries, Mr. Tomás Gerpe, attended this conference and took the opportunity to pledge the government’s support for improvement efforts.
On May 13th, the preliminary results from the Onboard Observers Program were presented to FIP partners.
The final report complete with analyses related to the interaction of the fishery with non-target species was presented to skippers and onboard observers on June 24th in the city of Rawson, and to representatives of the federal Undersecretariat of Fisheries on June 27th in the city of Buenos Aires. The report is available to the public here (in English).
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.
In August, the Fisheries Federal Council convened the Commission for the Follow-up of the Argentine red shrimp fishery. The meeting will be held at the FFC’s headquarters in Buenos Aires on August 26th.
In preparation for the meeting, Chubut’s Governor, Chubut’s Secretary of Fisheries and other staff met with representatives from Chubut’s fishing sector on August 24th at the House of Government in Rawson. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Patagonian Chamber of Fishing Industries (CAPIP), the Argentine Vessel-Owners Chamber (CAPeCA), the Chubut’s Fishing Chamber (CAPEC), the coastal fleet, the artisanal fleet, and by FIP partners Conarpesa, Iberpesca and Pesquera Veraz
Chubut has agreed to require federal authorities to design a long-term Management Plan for Red Shrimp. Authorities have announced that their first request to be made at the Fisheries Federal Council’s Commission for the Follow-Up of the Argentine Red Shrimp Fishery will be the for it to design and implement an inter-jurisdictional management plan, and an inter-jurisdictional commission,, in order to issue those legal measures needed to promote the process of certification for Argentine red shrimp and for the provincial and federal governments to agree measures on the resource’s exploitation and preservation.
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, in late August, after more than a year of successful partnership, the Patagonian National University of San Juan Bosco and CeDePesca signed a Framework Collaboration Agreement formalizing the alliance; and, in early September, FIP Partners agreed on Specific Agreement N°2, setting up the workplan for the second stage of this project.
On October 18th, 2016, CeDePesca held a meeting with Chubut’s Secretary of Fisheries, Mr. Alberto Gilardino, and his staff. The meeting was also attended by Ms. María Eva Góngora on behalf of the Patagonian National University of San Juan Bosco. The topics addressed during the meeting included an introduction to the FIP’s creation, its goals and its advances to date, as well as on the goals of the private Onboard Observers Program and the interest of stakeholders on supporting the province’s push for an inter-jurisdictional management plan for Argentine red shrimp. The Secretary and his staff expressed their support for the FIP and their interest in helping advance its goals.