Between January and October 2010, 402,868 tonnes of tuna was caught in the eastern Pacific, 16 per cent less than the 478,633 tonnes landed in the same period in 2009, according to figures from the Association of Tuna Companies from Ecuador (Atunec).
Of the total tuna catch obtained in the first ten months of last year, around 119,258 tonnes was caught by the national tuna fleet, consisting of some 87 vessels.
The tuna processing capacity installed in the country reached 400,000 tonnes annually, of which 40 per cent is covered by the Ecuadorian vessels and their associated vessels.
The main cause of the decline in landings is related to adverse weather conditions in the Pacific Ocean due to the presence of La Niña, said Luigi Benincasa, director of Atunec.
According to reports from the International Center for Research on El Niño (Ciifen), the eastern Pacific was substancially cooled from June 2010.
Only in the month of November was there around 4 degrees celsius below the normal average in the area of the Pacific and forecasters say that low temperatures will remain at sea until at least January 2011.
Although the fishing fleet based in Manta spent 90 days at sea, they failed to deliver the expected results.
When the sea temperature is normal, 60 days is enough to complete their catches of tuna, businessman Raúl Paladines told the newspaper El Universo.
This situation caused a great instability in ports such as Manta, where fishing is the main economic activity.
According to Lucia Fernandez De Genna, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of the city, it is estimated that for every dollar in circulation, around USD 0.70 comes from tuna fishing.
Meanwhile, in the first ten months of 2010, tuna exports feel both in volume and value compared to the previous year, as reported by the Central Bank of Ecuador.
During last year, they exported nearly 125,000 tonnes of fresh, frozen and preserved tuna with a value of USD 472.9 million. While in 2009, they exceeded 134,000 tonnes which generated a foreign exchange of USD 525.7 million. (FIS)