While in Peru we learned a great deal about the anchovetta fishery along its coast. This fish is a large source of jobs and economy in these communities and has been for years. Unfortunately very little of this fishery is used for direct consumption and most goes towards fishmeal to feed other animals such as chickens. By feeding these ground fish to chickens that we then consume, instead of eating of eating the fish directly, we create a 90% loss. This is due to the ecological efficiency in which only 10% of energy production is passed down to the next trophic level when consumed. For this reason the anchovetta fishery consistently mass harvests to keep up with the demand. These fish are also extremely important as the main diet of a large amount of the fish, mammal and bird populations of the area. Overharvesting of this species therefore affects the entire ecosystem along the coast and is an integral part of the food web. In an attempt to lessen the strain on the anchovetta fishery and increase food security, work has been done to advertise the fish for direct consumption as a specialty dish.
In watching the documentary titled The Most Important Fish in the Bay, we discovered the many comparisons of the anchovetta of Peru to the menhaden of the Chesapeake. Menhaden, also known as bunker, are omnivorous filter feeders that are commonly used in fish oil, fishmeal and as bait. Just like the anchovetta, they are then required to harvest large amounts to keep up with demand. The menhaden are also an integral part of the food web within the Chesapeake. As filter feeders they also clean the water and consume some of the excess nutrients that have such a negative affect on the Bay. While there is some direct consumption of menhaden as there is with anchovetta it is unfortunately not enough to make an impact on the population decline. In order for both of these populations to be saved from overharvesting and therefore both ecosystems overall, there needs to be a dramatic shift in the use of these fish. I believe there is something to learn from Peru in their work to create a specialty market for these fish that will hopefully continue to grow and make an impact.