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XV Ordinary General Delegates’ Assembly

Union of New Vessel Fishermen of Peru (SUPNEP)

With Juan Pedemonte

Decent work

and food security


 From Oct. 21 to 23, the Union of New Vessel Fishermen of Peru (SUPNEP) held its General Assembly. SIREL spoke with the Union’s secretary general, Juan Pedemonte, about the outcome of the meeting and the challenges ahead.


-What is your evaluation of this Assembly?

-All the delegates present expressed their satisfaction at the progress that SUPNEP is making. This approval meant that all the members of the Union’s steering committee were reelected for a new term. 


-Does the steering committee expect to face many challenges?

-The same challenges we’ve been facing for years, namely the defense of our jobs, which means claiming our right to fish in the 200 miles of the Grau Sea.1


-These are very rich waters that attract the greed of many…

-Our sea is very rich in fishery resources, which is why it has been invaded for years by foreign vessels, which not only reduce the fish stock, but generate absolutely no jobs or income for the country.


-The Assembly approved a decision to oppose the signing of FTAs with the United States and the European Union.

-A resolution expressing our disagreement with the way the national government is conducting negotiations for the signing of those FTAs was passed. They want to come here and fish in our 200-mile zone and take away all our fishery resources.


European and Chinese vessels come into our waters, fish and take their catch to the mother vessels at high sea - outside the 200-mile zone -, and they do this year round. Then these mother vessels ship the catch off to their countries, as if it were theirs. We cannot accept that.


-And having waters so rich in food while so many Peruvians go hungry…

-That’s right. Our people need to eat and our Grau Sea has enough resources to back a food sovereignty policy and to export. There’s enough for both of those goals.

Peruvians are malnourished because they suffer from protein deficiency. A possible solution to that problem would be to find a way to distribute our fish to every corner of the country. But to do that we first need to protect our fish resources. The 17 largest fishery companies in the world have exhausted or are close to exhausting their fishing grounds, and 13 have completely depleted their stock or have gravely affected them. It’s a critical situation: 80 percent of the world’s fishery resources are depleted.

Approximately 36 percent of all catches in the world are used to manufacture animal feed.  


-This is due to overfishing, among other factors…

-Exactly. Resources are threatened as a result of overfishing, which surpasses our seas’ capacity to replenish stock. Scientists forecast the disappearance of commercial fish species by 2048.


I had the opportunity of traveling to Spain and Italy, where inshore fishing vessels, with a 15-ton capacity, only bring in half a ton of sardines, and that’s on a good day. In Peruvian waters, fishing vessels bring in 15 tons with each catch and still leave plenty of fish in the sea.


This is why SUPNEP also supports legislative decree No. 1084, which regulates the sector. This decree reduced fishing fleets, introduced measures to protect fishery resources (in particular anchoveta), and solved a great social and economic problem faced by the workers, as we only work 40 days a year. This was a huge problem because the rest of the year we had to look for work elsewhere, and that’s not easy in our country.


-So the steering committee will be in office for another four years. How do you feel about that?

-I feel confident, especially because of the support form the IUF, an organization that has always been there for us, for every significant action: in our demands to companies, ministries and the government in general, fighting for what is rightly ours. Which is why we thank the IUF, and why feel we still have so much to learn from this organization.




From Lima, Gerardo Iglesias


November 9, 2009






1- Mar de Grau (or Grau Sea) is the official designation of a maritime area in the Pacific Ocean over which Peru has jurisdiction. It extends from Boca de Capones in the north to Concordia and Tacna in the south; forming a coastal line of 3,079.50 km. It occupies a maritime zone delimited by the Peruvian coastline on the east and an imaginary line 370.4 km (200 miles) into the sea from the closest point on the coast. It occupies an area of about 1,140,646,8 km.


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