This is the most heavily exploited fish in world history, yielding 13,059,900 t in 1971, but with great fluctuations and a decline since that year. After the drastic reduction in the harvests of the 80s, influenced by the strongest El Niño of the century (1982-83), in the 90s the harvests began to recover and peaked in 1994 with 12,520,611 t. The fishes are recruited to the fishery at about eight cm standard length at the age of five or six months. They are caught by purse seine (vessels known as bolicheras in Peru). Common fishing techniques are midwater otter trawling and small pelagic midwater trawling. A good summary of the dynamics of this fishery is given by Schaeffer (1967) and the state of the fishery is monitored in publications by the Institute del Mar del Peru in cooperation with FAO (in Bulletins and Reports of the Institute). The total catch reported for this species to FAO for 1999 was 8,723,265 t. The countries with the largest harvests were Peru (6,740,225 t) and Chile (1,983,040 t) (FAO-FIGI 2001).
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