Fishery Improvement Project

Last Update: February 2017*

This FIP has been reactivated by FIP partners in February 2017.  The FIP had been suspended in December 2014.

Species: Peruvian hake (Merluccius gayi peruanus)

FIP Stage according to CASS progress table: 5, FIP is delivering improvements in the water.

Fishery Location:

FAO Area 87.  Peruvian waters between parallels 03°30’S and 06°00’S;

FIP Coordination:

If you would like more information about the FIP or if you wish to support it, please contact Julissa Melo or Carmen Guerrero

FIP Participants:



Compañía Pesquera Pepa


Mai Shi Group


Pacific Freezing Company

Pesquera Terranova

Santa Monica


Tassara Ortiz Horacio Eduardo


Sustainability Information:

FishSource – Peruvian hake

Reactivation Announced:  February, 2017

First Announced: 2009 (formally, the FIP ran from 2010 until December 2014).

FIP Stage: 5, FIP is delivering improvement in the water

Current Improvement Recommendations:

  • There is a need to further improve transparency on stock assessment methodologies and the advised total allowable catch (TAC).
  • It is necessary to coordinate science and management efforts with Ecuador, considering this seems to be a shared stock.
  • There is a need for better understanding of the fishery’s impacts on the ecosystem
  • It is necessary to continue to minimize illegal fishing.


Within the extremely variable conditions of the Southeastern Pacific, this bottom-trawling Peruvian fishery had reached peaks of 300,000 metric tons in 1978 and 230,000 metric tons in 1996, and a minimum of 6,000 metric tonnes in 1983.  After a new peak occurred in 2001, when Peruvian hake landings were 130,000 metric tons, the fishery started showing signs of depletion and it was closed in 2003. As of 2004, landings have been stabilized around 35,000 metric tons.

According to IMARPE reports, the stock was depleted until 2008 and barely recovered in 2009 to a level over critical limits, although an experts’ panel held in 2009 maintained that the stock continued to be in a critical condition and recommended landings under 13,000 tonnes.

The Peruvian hake (Merluccius gayi peruanus) fishery takes place in the north of Peru and part of the stock inhabits an area crossing the Ecuador-Peru border.  The port city of Paita accounts for almost all Peruvian landings, giving this fishery considerable socio-economic importance for that community. There is also a small artisanal (row boats and gillnets) hake fishery in Peru that represents less than 5 percent of landings.  It should be noted that Ecuador initiated a trawling fishery for hake in 2013.

Given that the fishery’s products are exported mainly to Northern European markets, the Peruvian stakeholders in this fishery expressed interest in attaining an MSC certification.  In 2011, after having been working informally on a FIP with CeDePesca since 2009, the Peruvian hake Sub-Committee of the National Society of Industry (Subcomité de merluza de la Sociedad Nacional de Industria, PSC-SNI) signed a formal agreement is FIP.  Unfortunately, given changes in the political climate in the country, the FIP partners decided to suspend the FIP in December 2014.  It should be noted that at this time, a stock assessment conducted by CeDePesca technical team with support from the industry had confirmed the recovery trend of the stock and established that landings should be at or below 42,500 tonnes in 2015 to keep this trend ongoing.

In 2017, having renewed their commitment to this FIP, eleven companies grouped in the SNI have decided to reactivate this project with the aim of attaining MSC certification in 2019.

Key issues in this fishery:

  • A sound and public stock assessment is needed to verify the status of the stock. In 2014, the industry and CeDePesca had conducted an independent stock assessment that showed a recovery trend.
  • A target reference point should be explicitly established. The stock assessment conducted by CeDePesca team revealed that the limit reference point should be established at 300,000 metric tons.
  • Although management and research are strong in general, no clear harvest strategy is in place and a better understanding of the impacts on the seabed and benthic community is needed.
  • Some level of coordination is needed between Peru and Ecuador, given that Ecuador has been operating a Peruvian hake fishery since 2013.

FIP Objectives:

  • To encourage the adoption of a formal harvest strategy.
  • To promote the improvement of the transparency on stock assessment methodology and the advised total allowable catch (TAC).
  • To encourage regular external peer review of the stock assessment methodology.
  • To help find solutions to minimize illegal fishing.
  • To implement a private onboard observers program to close information gaps related to the impact of the fishery over other ecosystem components, and promote the adoption of mitigation measures if necessary.

Progress Update:


In February 2009, the profile of this fishery was available publicly on and CeDePesca engaged in talks with authorities, fishers, and industry representatives to promote improvements for this fishery.


In June 2010, the Peruvian Hake Subcommittee of the National Society of Industries (PSC-NSI) signed a framework collaboration agreement with CeDePesca to formalize this FIP.

In August 2010, an MSC pre-assessment was completed by Bureau Veritas.

In December 2010, an improvement plan was prepared and agreed between FIP partners. The main issues addressed in the improvement plan were better understanding of ecosystem impacts and transparency.


In March 2011, CeDePesca, together with the PSC-NSI, received funding from the Sustainable Fisheries Fund (SFF, a program of the Resources Legacy Fund) to implement the improvement plan. CeDePesca had secured support from IMARPE and from researchers at the University of Piura, who would have conducted several analyses to fill the information gaps highlighted by the pre-assessment.  Unfortunately, the political climate was unstable through 2011 and in early 2012, CeDePesca decided to ask for the suspension of the grant and all monies were returned to the grantor.

Discussions with new government authorities were promising in regard to making the stock assessment public by the end of 2011. IMARPE provided a link to the 2009 experts’ panel report that until then had been considered confidential.  IMARPE also embarked on an update of the stock assessment model; however, in October 2011 IMARPE’s staff had changed and the agreement on transparency could not be put in place.


January – March 2012

During this quarter, CeDePesca was accepted as part of the Cross-Sectoral Working Group for the Recovery of Hake constituted by PRODUCE and comprising PRODUCE, IMARPE, the industry, and fishermen unions to establish a management and recovery strategy for hake, taking account of biological, social, and economic issues. The cross-sectoral working group met once a week in the cities of Lima and Paita until March 21.

April – June 2012

In April 2012, CeDePesca sent a letter to the Vice-Minister of Fisheries encouraging transparency of science.

During May 2012, PRODUCE and IMARPE once again went through a change in leadership. CeDePesca had conversations with the PSC-NSI to restart the implementation of the improvement plan.

Between April and June 2012, the TAC was increased twice as a result of a strong protest by fishermen and fishery workers in Paita that left two dead protesters and many more injured. At first, the option for PRODUCE was the upper limit of the IMARPE recommendation, 14,723 metric tons. In June, after considering the results and recommendations of new research conducted by IMARPE, PRODUCE raised the fishing quota to 25,800 tonnes –still a 25% decrease in relation to the 2011 TAC.

July – September 2012

In August 2012, the PSC-NSI carried out an international workshop on the “Situation, Evaluation and Sustainability of Peruvian Hake” with the participation of CeDePesca and government officials. The workshop concluded that the hake stock has shown some increase in biomass. However, this could be associated with favorable environmental conditions for hake, and, therefore, more assessment efforts are needed, perhaps in the form of a joint scientific survey between Peru and Ecuador.

In September 2012, CeDePesca developed and sent a paper to the PSC-NSI listing the current actions to take to relaunch the fishery improvement program of the hake fishery. Formal and informal conversations continued with the PSC-NSI, PRODUCE, and IMARPE officials to restart the implementation of the improvement plan.

October – December 2012

In December 2012, PRODUCE established the TAC for January–June 2013 at 13,748 metric tons, indicating that IMARPE would conduct an assessment survey in May 2013. The survey will measure the total biomass, and therefore allow establishment of a new TAC for the period July 2013 – June 2014 (the “biological year”), taking account of the life cycle of hake.


January – March 2013

Since May 2012, the Cross-Sectoral Working Group for the Recovery of Hake constituted by PRODUCE had no meetings because PRODUCE, who chairs the group, decided not to call for them. CeDePesca has on several occasions requested the reactivation of the working group.

On March 26, PRODUCE implemented a spawning season closure of the hake fishery.

April – June 2013

In May 2013, an IMARPE cruiser reported an improvement in hake biomass, with an increased abundance from 195,000 to 276,000 metric tons and a better size structure – as referenced in PRODUCE Ministerial Resolution 220/2013.  This technical report has not yet been made public.

In June 2013, PRODUCE established a TAC of 38,957 tonnes for the “biological year” taking place from July 2013 to June 2014.  All complementary measures relating to spatial, seasonal, and size restrictions are kept in place.

By the end of June 2013, the PSC-NSI contacted CeDePesca in order to reinitiate the FIP. CeDePesca sent a new Improvement Plan, which was approved by FIP partners.

July – September 2013

In August 2013, all Peruvian hake producers and CeDePesca held a meeting in Paita to relaunch the FIP. It was established that main activities will be oriented toward ensuring collaboration with the new hake fishery in Ecuador and achieving transparency from IMARPE and PRODUCE regarding stock assessments and management decisions.

In August 2013, CeDePesca staff met with IMARPE and PRODUCE officials to discuss transparency. The CeDePesca delegation was told that IMARPE is working to establish protocols for publication of scientific information. Nevertheless, a request to IMARPE for information on transparency regulations yielded unsatisfactory results.

In September 2013, a delegation from the industry (PSC-NSI) participated in a bi-national (Peru and Ecuador) fishing sector meeting, where the need for further collaboration between the industry and governments of both countries was included in the meeting’s final statement. A new high-level meeting, to which CeDePesca has been invited, will take place in the last quarter of 2013.

Also in September 2013, PRODUCE issued Ministerial Resolution N° 283-2013-PRODUCE declaring the spawning season closure of the fishery as of September 16 and until further notice. The artisanal activity with bottom longlines is permitted on an intermittent basis to provide for monitoring the spawning season.

October – December 2013

In October, CeDePesca received IMARPE’s latest stock assessment after repeatedly asking for it through the transparency mechanisms provided by PRODUCE and IMARPE since August 2013.

PRODUCE authorized an exploratory cruise to be conducted October 28–30 by IMARPE with participation of the industry (Ministerial Resolution N° 313-2013-PRODUCE).

Through Ministerial Resolution N° 336-2013-PRODUCE, the closure that began in September with Ministerial Resolution N° 283-2013-PRODUCE ended as of November 18th in the area between the northern limit with Ecuador and parallel 4°S. The area between parallels 4°S and 6°S remained closed until December 13th because of the presence of juvenile specimens.


January – March 2014

In January, during the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization meeting that took place in Manta (Ecuador), CeDePesca took the opportunity to talk to Ecuador’s Vice-Minister of Fisheries regarding the need for closer coordination in management and science between Ecuador and Peru. Unfortunately, similar talks did not take place with Peru’s Vice-Minister of Fisheries, who also attended this meeting.

In February, the PCS-NSI decided to conduct an exploratory operation following protocols used by IMARPE during its own exploratory cruises, which are usually conducted with industry participation. The PCS-NSI is partnering with the University of Piura in this endeavor. The goal is to collect data to carry out an independent stock assessment. Two exploratory missions were conducted in February and early March.

In March, CeDePesca prepared a proposal to the Resources Legacy Fund to try to ensure additional funds to continue advancing this project. In particular, to support the analysis of the data collected during the exploratory missions and to continue promoting some level of coordination in management and science between Ecuador and Peru regarding Peruvian hake, especially considering Ecuador’s 2013 longline fishery launch.

Also in March, CeDePesca took part in a binational congress organized by artisanal fishermen in Lobitos. During this event, stakeholders in the artisanal sector were contacted in order to explore collaboration opportunities.

April – June 2014

In April, PRODUCE issued Ministerial Resolution N° 012-2014-PRODUCE, authorizing extraction of five thousand tons of hake, from the north end of Peru to 6°S latitude, as part of the Total Allowable Catch to be set for the biological year of this species (June 2014 – June 2015).

In June, CeDePesca organized a workshop in Lima about Transparency and Access to Public Information in Fisheries.  The workshop aimed at promoting the fundamental right of access to public information and transparency, which are essential for efficient and effective fisheries’ governance. Important panelists from Peru, Chile and Argentina contributed their points of view and encouraged transparent practices on fisheries research.

In June, IMARPE finished its hake survey.  The assessment confirmed that the Peruvian hake’s biomass has continued increasing, although the age structure is still weak, based on age 2. The Peruvian hake’s biomass was estimated at 400,114 metric tons, with 87% present southward from parallel 7°S. Based on these results, PRODUCE issued Ministerial Resolution No. 214-2014, establishing the provisional fisheries regime for the hake Fishery, since July 2014 to July 2015, bestowing a TAC of 47,129 metric tons.

Also in June, the first meeting of the Bi-National Monitoring Committee between IMARPE (Peru) and INP (Ecuador) was held.  The most relevant agreements were:

  • The first bi-national workshop for methodological standardization of hake’s biological variables will be held in Peru (Tumbes and Paita) in October or November 2014.
  • Coordinators from both countries will perform several activities together and exchange technical knowledge concerning the evaluation of other species.
  • The next Monitoring Committee’s meeting will be held in June 2015.

July – September 2014

In August, PRODUCE established a closure between parallels 4°30’S and 6°S (Ministerial Resolution N° 290-2014-PRODUCE), in order to avoid disturbances to the reproductive process.

Along this quarter, CeDePesca and the PSC-SNI worked together to create a database in order to allow a better understanding of the status of the stock.

In September, CeDePesca’s staff went onboard of a fishing vessel to verify length structure, by-catch and discards. The observed length structure showed the same features already reported by IMARPE, and it was possible to verify that the level of by-catch is very low (less than 5% of total catch) and that discards are almost inexistent.

October-December 2014

In October, CeDePesca organized the meeting “Information Exchange: Peru – Ecuador” in Lima. Technical staff from Ecuador shared information related to the 2013 fishing season with Peruvian colleagues from PRODUCE and IMARPE.

In October, PRODUCE established a new closure zone for Peruvian hake’s spawning season.  The area closed ranged from the northern border of the Peruvian Sea to parallel 4°30’S (Ministerial Resolution N° 322-2014-PRODUCE). PRODUCE also authorized IMARPE to execute a two days survey between Talara (04º30’S) and Punta Negra (06º00’S) (Ministerial Resolution N° 323-2014-PRODUCE).

Along October, CeDePesca and the PSC-SNI continued building the database

In November, PRODUCE ended the spawning closure. (Ministerial Resolution N° 394-2014-PRODUCE).

In December 2014, CeDePesca turned in a stock assessment conducted by its technical team under supervision of a renowned international fishery researcher.  The stock assessment was conducted with support from the industry.  This stock assessment confirmed the recovery trend of the stock. It also suggests that the limit reference point should be established at 300,000 metric tons, and reveals that the current status is slightly over this point with an increasing trend. The age structure of the population is still very weak, composed mainly by fish under 3 years old.  The paper established that landings should be at or below 42,500 tonnes in 2015 to keep the rebuilding trend ongoing.

In late December, because of changes in the political climate of the country, FIP partners decided that, although great progress had been made in 2014, it was necessary to suspend this project until conditions improve.


October – December 2016

Eleven companies that have stakes at the Peruvian hake fishery and that are grouped under the PSC-SNI contacted CeDePesca with the intention of reactivating this FIP.  CeDePesca devised an Action Plan for 2017 and it was enriched with the opinion of FIP partners.


January – February 2017

The eleven companies have agreed to sign individual specific agreements to commit themselves to contributing to this project.  The Action Plan for 2017 has been approved and includes 5 Actions and nine tasks.  The actions include publicly announcing the reactivation of the FIP, updating the MSC pre-assessment, promoting the necessary improvements in management and research, implementing an Onboard Observers Program and starting the MSC full assessment process when the improvement goals have been achieved.  The Specific Agreements and the Action Plan can be found in the FIP’s Progress Table (see link below).

In February, CeDePesca prepared and presented a proposal to the Global Sustainability Fisheries Fund (GFSF).  The proposed project seeks for complimentary funds to reinforce the Onboard Observers Program that is to be implemented as a private initiative during a 12-month period as contemplated in the Action Plan, and, in addition, to conduct an ERAEF workshop to promote awareness regarding this fishery’s potential impact over other ecosystem component.

Click here for a detailed FIP Progress Update (PDF)