Summary

IDENTIFICATION

Last updated on 22 November 2017

SCIENTIFIC NAME

Scomber japonicus

SPECIES NAME(S)

Pacific chub mackerel, Chub mackerel

Chub mackerel has a worldwide distribution. There is limited information on stock structure of Scomber japonicus off the coast of Ecuador. Some authors state that in the SE Pacific, differences in growth patterns would suggest that the stocks in the Ecuadorian and Peruvian coastal regions would be distinct and separated by the Equatorial front (Patterson et al. 1993). Other authors suggest the existence of one stock in the south of Ecuador and north of Peru (which is more intensively exploited by the Ecuadorian fleet) and another stock in the south of Peru and north of Chile (Cucalón-Zenck et al. 2000). However, none of the above stock differentiation can be considered as entirely conclusive (Cucalón-Zenck et al. 2000)(Patterson et al. 1993) and therefore an unascertained top node is assigned, with a management unit for Ecuador. 


ANALYSIS

Strengths
  • Fishing of small pelagic fishes is banned two months per year to allow the recovery of the species
  • The first mile from coast is closed to fishing to protect the reproduction of aquatic species
  • Marine habitats and bottom types have been identified an mapped.
  • There is a national plan for the conservation of sea turtles and a national plan for the conservation of sharks and rays. 
Weaknesses
  • There is no information on stock status and there has been no recent stock assessment (last one was conducted in 2000).
  • The Fishery for Small Pelagic Fishes of Ecuador catches very high percentages of immature chub mackerel.
  • There is no formal link between scientific advice and management. Specific technical measures such as a minimum landing size have not been established in spite of being repeatedly advised by the National Institute of Fisheries of Ecuador.
  • The magnitude of IUU fishing and compliance to current fishing regulations (such as seasonal and spatial closures) are currently unknown.
  • Population status in the late 90’s was considered overexploited and since then no management measures have been implemented to facilitate the recovery of this stock. 
Options
  1. Conduct stock assessment
  2. Follow scientific advice and set minimum landing size for chub mackerel and other small pelagic fishes in Ecuador 

SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

< 6

Managers Compliance:

≥ 6

Fishers Compliance:

NO SCORE

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

< 6

Future Health:

NO SCORE


FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

No related MSC fisheries

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
Ecuador Ecuador Purse seines

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Last updated on 24 November 2017

Strengths
  • Fishing of small pelagic fishes is banned two months per year to allow the recovery of the species
  • The first mile from coast is closed to fishing to protect the reproduction of aquatic species
  • Marine habitats and bottom types have been identified an mapped.
  • There is a national plan for the conservation of sea turtles and a national plan for the conservation of sharks and rays. 
Weaknesses
  • There is no information on stock status and there has been no recent stock assessment (last one was conducted in 2000).
  • The Fishery for Small Pelagic Fishes of Ecuador catches very high percentages of immature chub mackerel.
  • There is no formal link between scientific advice and management. Specific technical measures such as a minimum landing size have not been established in spite of being repeatedly advised by the National Institute of Fisheries of Ecuador.
  • The magnitude of IUU fishing and compliance to current fishing regulations (such as seasonal and spatial closures) are currently unknown.
  • Population status in the late 90’s was considered overexploited and since then no management measures have been implemented to facilitate the recovery of this stock. 
Options
  1. Conduct stock assessment
  2. Follow scientific advice and set minimum landing size for chub mackerel and other small pelagic fishes in Ecuador 

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 24 November 2017

The National Institute of Fisheries of Ecuador (INP) is responsible for assessing the status of the stock of all small pelagic fishes in Ecuador. The last stock assessment of chub mackerel off Ecuador was conducted in 2000 using data from 1979 to 1998 (Cucalón-Zenck et al. 2000). This stock assessment used a virtual population analysis with catch data by age, fishing mortality in the last year and natural mortality (estimated using the equation of Pauly and the equation of Beverton-Holt). No information about uncertainty was provided in the assessment report. Since 2000, there is no reliable information on the stock status of chub mackerel off Ecuador. 

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 24 November 2017

The monitoring and analysis of fisheries and landings involving the harvesting of small pelagic fishes conducted by the purse seiner fleet of Ecuador was started in 1981 through the Small Pelagic Fishes Program. The limited resources of this Institution, however, has prevented conducting regular scientific surveys, and advice is therefore provided based on landing data, sampling at fish markets and estimation of effort based on the information provided by the vessels and harbor records. Scientific advice for chub mackerel was provided both in the scientific paper where last stock assessment results were published (Cucalón-Zenck et al. 2000) and in the last Reports of the Fishery for Small Pelagic Fishes produced by INP (2008 and 2009). These Reports include a summary of the catches (not only biomass but also size structure or sex ratio for some species) but are not considered as stock assessments. Advice included technical measures such as setting minimum landing size for small pelagic fishes in Ecuador; specifically after reporting that for chub mackerel most of the individuals (e.g. 87% in 2008 and 96% in 2009) captured are below the size at 50% maturity; the regulation of mesh size (1.5 inches for chub mackerel); the establishment of temporal closures in the spawning season; the regulation or ban of the use of lights for fishing; the establishment of catch limits and the reduction of effort. 

REFERENCE POINTS

Last updated on 24 November 2017

There are no reference points in place for chub mackerel in Ecuador. 

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 24 November 2017

There are no recent estimates of stock biomass. Landings are monitored every year and the most recent estimate (2015) is 99,630 tons. Landings in 1998 were 44,716  tons and the stock assessment conducted for the period 1979-1998 (Cucalón-Zenck et al. 2000) yielded the following parameters for 1998:

  1. Stock biomass: 274,690 tons
  2. Fishing mortality: 0,74 year-1

The conclusion of the 2000 stock assessment was that the stock biomass was undergoing a rapid decline and overfished. 

TRENDS

Last updated on 24 November 2017

The only historical information available for chub mackerel in Ecuador is landing data. Landing data is available for the period 1981-2015. After record high values in 1982 (589,375 tons), landings progressively decreased until 1992, with especially low landings in 1983 and 1987 as a consequence of El Niño events in those years. Between 1992 and 2000 low catches were maintained although with a slow recovery in 1997 and a new drop after El Niño event in 1998. After 2000, landings of chub mackerel in Ecuador have been low but showing great variability; a recent increase occurred in the period 2011-2015, from 31,799 tons to 99,630 tons. 

In the past some authors have raised concern about the possibility that the monitoring of Ecuadorian fisheries has not been comprehensive and that the statistics are questionable and under-reported (Patterson et al. 1993) (Alava et al. 2005), although there is no information to conclude if this issue may still persist at present.

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGERS' DECISIONS

Last updated on 24 November 2017

The Law of Fisheries and Fisheries Development (1974) is the Law that regulates fishing activities in Ecuador. Management of the Fishery for Small Pelagics in Ecuador (including chub mackerel) occurring in Ecuadorian national waters is conducted by the Subsecretary of Fishery Resources (Subsecretaria de Recursos Pesqueros) which belongs to the Ministry of Aquaculture and Fisheries (Ministerio de Acuacultura y Pesca; MAP). A new Law of Fisheries and Aquaculture is in draft stage (August 2017). When this Law is approved, the Fishing Authority will be the entity responsible for management of Ecuadorian fisheries and aquaculture activities. 

Chub mackerel in Ecuador is not managed through TACs or catch quotas. Management has adopted some, but not all, of the technical measures proposed by the INP in the last years.  Minimum landing sizes have not been established for chub mackerel in spite of the INP repeatedly reporting high percentage of juveniles in the catches (e.g. 87% in 2008 and 96% in 2009). Management of chub mackerel in Ecuador consist of temporal closures (in March and September each year; Acuerdo Ministerial 47, 2010), spatial closures (fishing is not allowed within the first mile from the shoreline (Acuerdo Ministerial 03316, 2003 and Acuerdo Ministerial 134, 2007; first eight miles from coast are reserved for artisanal fisheries (Acuerdo Ministerial 080, 1990); and a minimum mesh size of 1,5 inches for purse seiners targeting frigate tuna and other small pelagic species in Ecuador (Acuerdo Ministerial 19, 2010). Bycatch by purse seiners targeting small pelagic species in Ecuador cannot exceed 20% (Acuerdo Ministerial 5, 2011).

Ecuador is a Member Country of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) since 2015. As such it is committed to apply all the conservation and management measures (CMM) established by the SPRFMO. Currently, there are fifteen CMMs in place detailing various provisions such as the application of technical measures or output and input controls, requirements for data collection and reporting, as well as regulations for monitoring, control and surveillance and enforcement. However, Ecuadorian purse seiners seem to operate only in national jurisdictional waters where SPRFMO CMM’s do not apply.

RECOVERY PLANS

Last updated on 24 November 2017

There are no recovery plans in place for chub mackerel in Ecuador. 

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 24 November 2017

There are no TAC or quotas set for chub mackerel in Ecuador. Fishing activities in Ecuadorian national waters are regulated by the Law of Fisheries and Fisheries Development  (1974), which set the penalties for violations of the regulations and acts included in that Law and which includes economic fines, withdrawal of fishing permits or imprisonment. Compliance with regulations is enforced through inspections at harbors and observers on board of commercial vessels. The new Law of Fisheries and Aquaculture which is in draft stage (August 2017) will set the new legal framework for compliance and enforcement in Ecuadorian fisheries, including a wide array of penalties such as withdrawal of fishing license, confiscation of fishing products, economic fines and immobilization of the vessel. This new Law also specifies that compliance will be enforced through VMS monitoring, on-board observers, inspection of landings, image recording systems among others. 

The magnitude of IUU fishing and compliance to current fishing regulations (such as seasonal and spatial closures) are currently unknown. 

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

ETP SPECIES

Last updated on 24 November 2017

Purse seine fisheries have some interactions with sea turtles, but far less than longline fisheries (Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador 2014). There is a permanent ban on turtle capture in Ecuador (Acuerdo Ministerial 212, 1990). In 2007 fisheries observers from the INP reported that in 10 trips, three turtles were captured and released alive. Although there is no information on which specific turtle species interact with purse seiners in Ecuador, all the five marine turtles of Ecuador can be considered ETP species: the green turtle Chelonia mydas (IUCN classification: "endangered"), the olive ridley sea turtle Lepidochelys olivacea ("vulnerable"), the hawksbill sea turtle Eretmochelys imbrincata ("critically endangered"), the leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea ("vulnerable") and the loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta ("vulnerable"). These species are included in the National Plan for Sea Turtles of Ecuador which aims to take the actions needed for the conservation of the sea turtles and their essential habitats in Ecuador, including the implementation of a plan to assess the interaction between coastal purse seiners and sea turtles in Ecuador and the establishment of a plan to reduce the impact of coastal purse seiner on sea turtles. 

There is very little information on the interaction between Ecuadorian purse seiners targeting small pelagic species and sharks, although it has been reported that some bycatch of small sharks and rays can occur (Coello 2005). The National Plan for Sharks is being implemented as a way to improve the conservation of sharks and rays and reduce the accidental catch of these species by industrial and artisanal fishing boats. 

OTHER TARGET AND BYCATCH SPECIES

Last updated on 24 November 2017

The Fishery for Small Pelagics in Ecuador is a multispecific fishery. The list of main target species varies depending on the source but main species according to the National Institute of Fisheries of Ecuador are: Scomber japonicus (chub mackerel), Ophistonema spp. (thread herring), Cetengraulis mysticetus (Pacific Anchoveta), Sardinops sagax (South American pilchard) and Etrumeus sardina (red-eye round herring). Other small pelagic species like Decapterus macrosoma (shortfin scad), Selene oerstedii (Mexican moonfish), Chloroscombrus orqueta (Pacific bumper), Peprilus medius (Pacific harvestfish), Engraulis ringens (Anchoveta), Auxis thazard (frigate tuna) and Trachurus murphy (Chilean jack mackerel) are considered bycatch. 

In the last years, however, some of the small pelagic species considered as secondary or bycatch have shown a marked increase in catches. Landings data statistics from 2014 and 2015 revealed that main target species represented 52.2% (2014) and 60.1% (2015) while secondary species accounted for the rest.

There are no reference points for any bycatch species of the Fishery for Small Pelagic Fishes of Ecuador.

HABITAT

Last updated on 24 November 2017

Coastal marine habitats have been mapped by the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador (Terán et al. 2006). Besides the Ministry of the Environment has developed an interactive map which was made available in 2015 and that provides detailed information on the location and extension of some priority marine habitats such as coral reefs and mangroves. Purse seiners make no contact with the seabed and are supposed to have little or no impact on vulnerable habitats although there are no specific studies on the impact of Ecuadorian purse seiners targeting small pelagic fish on bottom habitats. 

MARINE RESERVES

Last updated on 24 November 2017

The Fishery for Small Pelagic Fishes in Ecuador is subject to temporal and spatial closures. Fishing of small pelagic fishes is banned two months per year (March and September; Acuerdo Ministerial 47, 2010). Besides, the first mile from coast is closed to fishing to protect the reproduction of aquatic species (Acuerdo Ministerial 134, 2007), although some exceptions apply (e.g. recreational fishing is allowed). The first eight miles from coast are reserved for artisanal fishing and industrial activities are prohibited (Acuerdo Ministerial 080, 1990). Besides, there are 2 marine reserves in continental Ecuador (Galera San Francisco and El Pelado) where fishing activities are regulated. 

FishSource Scores

Last updated on 22 November 2017

SELECT SCORES

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2015 data.

The score is < 6.

The Law of Fisheries and Fisheries Development (1974) is the Law that regulates fishing activities in Ecuador. However there are no management objectives for the stock, a management plan or harvest control rule in place.

As calculated for 2015 data.

The score is ≥ 6.

Chub mackerel is not managed through TACs or fish quotas in Ecuador. Some but not all the management recommendations made by the National Institue of Fisheries of Ecuador (INP) have been adopted by the management entity. For instance, there is a regulation on mesh size and some spatial protection measures have been adopted to protect reproductive phases, as advised. Minimum landing sizes, however, have not been implemented in spite of being one of the recommendations of the INP.

STOCK HEALTH:

As calculated for 2015 data.

The score is < 6.

The stock has been reported as overfished in two ocassions (Cucalon-Zenck et al., 2000 and Patterson et al., 1993), with high risk of collapse. Although these are old reports, no relevant management measures have been implemented to increase the spawning stock biomass (e.g. minimum landing size) or to reduce total catches (e.g. quotas or catch limits) and catches in the last 25 yr have been low as compared to the start of the series (80's).

HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE RISK

High Medium Low
No data available for recruitment
DATA NOTES
  1. Landings data is available for the period 1981-2015 from the National Institute of Fisheries of Ecuador
  2. Stock biomass and Fishing mortality are available for the period 1979-1998 from Cucalon and Zenck (2000)
  3. Lack of quantitative information prevents calculation of quantitative scores, so qualitative scores are provided. Scores #3 and #5 are data deficient (DD) for the reasons below:
    • Score #3: The magnitude of IUU fishing and compliance to current fishing regulations (such as seasonal and spatial closures) are currently unknown.
    • Score #5:  There is currently no information on the stock status or current levels of fishing mortality that would enable a prediction of the future health of the stock

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

No related MSC certifications

Sources

References

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