An invasion of predatory Humboldt squid into northern Pacific waters is decimating hake catches in the Pacific Ocean, including along Chile’s coast.
This expansion poses a serious threat to Pacific hake, an important commercial fish for Chile, as it is a favorite part of the squid’s diet.
Federico Silva, president of Sonapesca (Chile’s National Fishing Society), fears increasing squid numbers could have grave consequences for Chile’s fishermen. “This study has shown the true magnitude of the plague. The fishing industry in Chile has suffered a grade eight earthquake.”
The declining numbers of hake has recently been a source of serious debate in Chile. Subsistence fishermen in Valparaiso and Viña del Mar protested to the government in August as they felt that industrial fishing was responsible for the hake decline . However, this latest research, completed in July, points to squid as the cause for their fall.
According to statistics from IFOP (Institute for Fishing Promotion), in 2002 the estimated hake biomass around Chile’s coasts was 1.5 million tons. But in 2004, the figure had been reduced to 272,000 tons.
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