Anchovy, Peruvian,anchovies

Engraulis ringens

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Purse seine
Capture area — South East Pacific (FAO 87)
Stock area — Peru
Stock detail — All Areas
Picture of Anchovy, Peruvian,anchovies

Sustainability rating four info

Sustainability overview

Due to the last El Nino, anchovy populations are low. Anchovy populations fluctuate largely because of environmental variability. It is important that their populations are maintained at an appropriate level because anchovy are a very important part of the food chain. Therefore a suite of management measures have been implemented to ensure anchovy populations can rebuild. However, there needs to be more transparency in stock assessments and quotas need to be made more appropriate for predators of anchovy.

Purse seining is a selective fishing gear but quotas need to be made more appropriate to maintain an ecosystem balance.


A member of the Engraulidae family, Peruvian anchovy is found in the eastern South Pacific along the coast of northern Peru, southwards to Chile. It forms huge schools in surface waters and is entirely dependent on the rich plankton of the Peruvian Current. It breeds throughout the year along the entire coast of Peru, but with a major spawning in winter/spring (July to September) and a lesser one in summer (February and March); also throughout the year off Chile, with peaks in winter (May to July) and the end of spring (especially December). Peruvian anchovy mature at about 1 year (about 10 cm standard length); attains about 8 cm standard length in 6 months, 10.5 cm in 12 months and 12 cm in 18 months (maximum length 20 cm); longevity about 3 years.

Stock information

Criterion score: 0.75 info

Stock Area


Stock information

The fishery for Peruvian anchovy is the world’s single-largest fishery, the largest source of fish meal and fish oil. The most heavily exploited fish in history, the Peruvian anchovy resides in two main stocks, the northern central Peruvian stock and the Southern Peru/Northern Chile stock.

Anchovy stocks fluctuate greatly and regularly because of environmental variability, particularly El Nino events. Therefore, it is important to regularly estimate the abundance of the stock and ensure that the amount fished is sufficient to maintain the stock at a healthy level. The stock is currently repairing from low levels but is still not yet at safe levels. It is important that the fishery manages the stock effectively to ensure it is closer to the target reference points to avoid posing a risk to the stock and the ecosystem.

There is much uncertainty regarding the level of fishing mortality in the fishery due to the high level of illegal discarding. There are no estimates on illegal discarding. Fishing mortality rates are irregularly published and therefore, should be used with caution.


Criterion score: 0.5 info

Anchovy are a transboundary stock, and require joint management by various countries. Management measures are designed to adapt to the fluctuating nature of anchovy populations so that they can recover.

Management measures include a minimum landing size of 12cm; a quota (and the fishery closes before the quota is met); individual transferable quotas (ITQs) for industrial vessels; a maximum catch limit; an exclusion zone for industrial fishing within 5 marine miles from the coast; fishing seasons to protect spawning anchovy; effort limits for the small-scale fleet; permits; a minimum mesh size of 13 mm and satellite positioning system. To further protect young, juvenile anchovy, fishing is prohibited for selected period for specific areas where they represent more than 5% bycatch. Vessels must declare when more than 10% of the catch is Peruvian anchovy juveniles or other non-allowed species.

There are some strong management measures though these can be undermined by a lack of transparency in stock assessments, policies based on a lack of scientific evidence. Non-compliance appears to be low, though there is illegal fishing in the fishery. To reduce this, the government organisation PRODUCE is using a new app to collect data on illegal fishing.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Purse seining presents a low risk to habitat. To prevent damage to the seafloor, industrial vessels are not allowed to fish within 5 miles of the coast (in shallow waters).

The main impacts to the ecosystem is the removal of anchovy on the food chain and the food chain, rather than through bycatch. The ecosystem is mainly protected by limiting the amount of anchovy that can be caught and by implementing three major Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).


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CeDePesca. 2017. Peruvian Anchovy (Direct Human Consumption. Available at:

Fishery Progress. 2017. Peruvian anchovy - industrial purse-seine. Available at:

CeDePesca. 2016. MSC Gap Analysis for the Peruvian anchovy for DHC. Available at:


UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL AGRARIA LA MOLINA. 2015. "Analisis de la captura incidental en la pesqueria industrial de cerco anchovetera en el litoral peruano durante el periodo 2003-2011"Available at:

FAO. 2016. Pelagics supply outlook improving. Available at:

FAO. 2016. El Nino is causing issues for the anchovy fishery off South America. Available at:

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FishBase. 2016. Engraulis ringens. Available at:

IMARPE. 2017.

Kroetz, K. Sanchirico, J.N., Galarza Contreras , E., Corderi Novoa, D., Collado, N., Swiedler, E.W. 2016. Examination of the Peruvian anchovy Individual Vessel Quota (IVQ) System. Available at:

Hannesson, R., 2013. Strictly for the birds?: On ecosystem services of forage fish. Mar. Policy 38, 109-115,

Undercurrent News. 2017. Peru launches anchovy quota for human consumption. Available at:

NOAA. 2018. ENSO: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions. Available at:

Undercurrent News. 2017. Peru's first anchovy season closes with 85% of quota caught. Available at: