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On March 18, at the eighth meeting of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO-PS) in Vanuatu, the first management and conservation measure was approved for the giant squid, or squid, caught in international waters. It is a first achievement, relevant for the sustainable management of this important resource, for which Peru is responsible for around 50% of its global extraction. 15 countries, including ours, unanimously approved the measure proposed by the European Union.

The provision establishes that vessels operating on the high seas of the South Pacific must use satellite monitoring systems, as well as being part of the official registry of vessels of the RFMO-PS. Countries will have to contribute, both to the generation of better fishing records and to the collection of biological samples, to support research that guarantees the sustainability of this fascinating cephalopod. An observer system is also established, on board ships that operate in areas governed by the organization.

These aspects make up a pending challenge before the International Community and to be up to it, we have until January 1, 2021, the date on which the measure will take effect. This deadline leads us to reflect on whether our activity, as it is currently, meets the requirements and, if not, on what we must do in just over nine months to achieve the objective.

A pending need is the update of the Regulation of Fishery Management (ROP) for squid, which is unaware that this activity has been carried out exclusively by artisanal vessels; therefore it is the only fleet authorized to extract squid in the Grau Sea. Any larger ship project should direct its effort to the high seas. Likewise, the scope of the regulation limits the extraction to our jurisdictional waters when, in fact, the vessels are also going to catch giant squid in distant waters outside the Peruvian maritime domain, since it is a straddling resource and so must reflect our regulations.

Another weakness of the management system of this fishery is related to the lack of effectiveness to conduct the formalization processes, which were established in previous years by the Peruvian State. Those, should have ended long ago and have to end in a short time in an effective way, to end informality in the sector. Without a doubt, it is a challenge that we will all face, in which PRODUCE is responsible for exercising leadership.

This fishery employs more than 105,000 Peruvians and generates significant export earnings. In 2019 it was $ 860 million. It is also a low-cost source of protein and is positioned as one of the most consumed resources in the country, providing around 50 million kilograms of food annually to our population.

As we can see, squid gives us a lot and it is to be hoped that, in return, the formalization process will end and the regulatory framework will be updated. It depends on the two actions that the management is a promoter of this fishery, as well as that it adjusts to our international commitments, and to the vision of the country, to guarantee the sustainable extraction of the main strategic resource for human consumption in Peru. We have a great challenge on the table, the zero hour arrives.

Alfonso Miranda Eyzaguirre

Former Vice Minister of Fisheries

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