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A Model Fishery in Ecuador

Manta :: Ecuador

Moving toward a sustainable fishery takes commitment from all sides: Fishers must reduce their impact on the waters they fish; managers must ensure the catch is properly monitored; and policy makers must put, and keep, sufficient management measures in place. In Ecuador, WWF is working to improve the artisanal longline mahi mahi fishery, which exports fresh fish primarily to buyers in the US.

  • man holds fish

    Working Waters

    The mahi mahi fishery is a significant piece of Ecuador’s economy and means jobs for more than 8,000 fishers. Keeping fish stocks healthy is key to their way of life.

  • mahi mahi

    Marine Marathons

    Known locally as dorado, mahi mahi is a highly migratory species that travels along the coast from California all the way to Chile. Ecuador is the second-largest producer of mahi mahi in the Eastern Pacific Ocean; WWF’s work will have a big impact on the overall health of the stock.

  • fishing vessel

    A Family Affair

    Ecuador’s artisanal longline fleet is made up of “mother vessels” and smaller, 20- to 30-foot fibras. Each mother vessel tows up to 10 fibras (the permitted maximum) out to the fishing grounds, where they fan out in search of fish each day. The bigger boats store the fish and house the crews at night.

  • fishing net

    It's Catching

    About 500 baited hooks hang down into the water from surface longlines that can extend for miles from each fibra.

  • fishing hook

    Keeping Turtles Clear

    Reduced sea turtle mortality can be achieved by putting in place a number of best practices and technologies, including replacing “J” hooks with circle hooks (shown above) that turtles cannot swallow, using T-floats to separate the lines and reduce entanglements, and placing on-board observers to monitor the day’s haul.

  • fishing clamp

    Hands On, Mouths Off

    A turtle caught by fishing gear can still survive if released properly. Using dehooking tools, fishers can safely remove hooks from turtles’ mouths and release them back into the water.

  • fisherman

    Scaling Up

    In addition to spreading the word directly to local fishers, WWF has developed a close partnership with Ecuador's Ministry of Fisheries and has helped them create a national management plan that supports mahi mahi sustainability.

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