Anchoveta are pelagic fish in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, and are regularly caught on the coasts of Peru, and Chile. They live for up to 4 years, reaching 20 cm, with recruitment occurring after only about 6 months when they have already grown over 8 cm. It was previously thought that anchoveta ate mostly phytoplankton, small zooplankton, and larvae. However, recent work has shown that anchoveta get most of their energy from zooplankton and macrozooplankton (Espinoza & Bertrand 2008, Espinoza et al. 2009). Euphausiids and large copepods are the most important dietary components.
After a period of plenty in the late 1960s, the population was greatly reduced during the 1972 El Niño event, when warm water drifted over the cold Humboldt Current, and lowering the depth of the thermocline. Nutrient rich waters were then no longer upwelled and phytoplankton production decreased, leaving the anchoveta with a depleted food source.
Since the mid-1980s, the Peruvian anchoveta has again become very abundant, with current catch levels being comparable to those of the 1960s.
Until about 2005 the anchoveta was almost exclusively used for making fishmeal, and in fact Peru produces some of the highest quality fishmeal in the world. Since 2005 anchoveta is increasingly used for direct human consumption, as fresh fish, as canned fish or as salted-matured fillets packed in oil. Peruvian canned anchoveta is sold as Peruvian canned sardines. The new use is sometimes called the second anchoveta boom, the first boom being the discovery and subsequent fishery and fishmeal production in the 1960s/70s. The second boom was kick-started by the Peruvian Fish Technology Institute CIP, assisted by FAO. A large scale promotion campaign including by the Peruvian President at the time, Alan Garcia, helped to make the anchoveta known by rich and poor alike. Previously it was not considered as food and hardly known among the population, now it is found in supermarkets and served in restaurants. Still, only 1 percent of anchovy catches are used for direct human consumption and 99 percent continue to be reduced to fishmeal and oil.
Culinary Aspects: Anchovy vs Anchoveta
Canned anchovy fillets commonly sold in the US are intensely salty and exclude skin and bones. They're often marked "Product of Morocco". These are salted-matured anchovy fillets. Canned anchovetas sold in Peru and elsewhere are almost identical to the canned sardines widely available in the US, hence the name "Peruvian sardines".
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency. "Canned Sardine Standard". Retrieved 19 September 2012.
- Fréon, Pierre, et al. "Impacts of the Peruvian anchoveta supply chains: from wild fish in the water to protein on the plate". GLOBEC International Newsletter 16(1). Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
- "Engraulis ringens". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 24 January 2006.
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2005). "Engraulis ringens" in FishBase. 10 2005 version.
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