Fishery Improvement Project (FIP)- Mahi-Mahi Fishery in Guatemala

Guatemala Mahi Fishery Improvement Report

In the last two decades, the mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) fishery in Guatemala has been developed through the operation of small and medium scale boats. This fishery is an important source of livelihood in the Pacific coast of Guatemala, particularly at Escuintla department, one of the major fishing districts in the country.

The mahi-mahi fishery is characterized by small boats, on average 2 NRT, which use a pelagic, manually operated longline with a maximum of 1,000 hooks. Furthermore, Guatemala has hook regulations, where size should not be less than 1.5 inches. The mahi fishery currently uses circle hooks, which are associated with a decrease in sea turtle mortality rates.

In October 2013, CeDePesca (Centre for Development and Sustainable Fisheries) conducted a Gap Analysis of the fishery against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable fisheries.

This analysis identified the following key issues:

  • Lack of catch/effort data for the small scale fleet
  • Lack of systematic information about interactions with ecosystem components
  • Lack of Management Plan for the fishery, including harvest rules

In February 2014, Sea Delight was invited to participate at a stakeholders meeting with representatives of US importers, Guatemala exporters, artisanal fishermen and CeDePesca, coming to an agreement about a workplan and a minimum budget. At the meeting, the artisanal fishermen committed themselves to collaborate with data collection.

Project Highlights include:

  • In July 2015, FIP participants sent a letter to Mar de Cristal to announce that buying would cease until they honored their commitment to the FIP.
  • Between July and September 2015, DIPESCA and CeDePesca continued information collection activities outlined in the FIP Action Plan.
  • In October 2015, the IATTC’s second technical meeting on mahi-mahi took place in Lima, Peru and included participants from DIPESCA and CeDePesca, whose participation was ensured by the FIP.
  • At the 2nd IATTC technical meeting, Eduardo Juarez, Research Director at DIPESCA presented advances in data collection made by the Guatemala mahi-mahi FIP with financial assistance provided by the FIP.
  • In November 2015 talks were initiated with the national government to draft a management plan proposal for the Guatemala mahi-mahi fishery.
  • In December 2015, DIPESCA and CeDePesca produced the first draft report on the Guatemala mahimahi fishery using statistical data that has been obtained to date by the FIP.

The Sea Delight Ocean Fund supports this FIP by providing necessary funding and supporting CeDePesca to coordinate the following activities:

  • Dependent and independent data collection of fisheries to contribute to regional stock assessment
  • Evaluation of the risks to by-catch species through systematic collection of interaction information
  • Approval of a participatory and effective management frame, including a Management Plan, and developing measures to mitigate ecosystem impacts.