“Every year it gets worse,” complains Lima fisherman Ricardo Ayaucan as he races to haul the drift net aboard his tiny boat bobbing in the Pacific swell before the sea lions devour his meager catch.
Like his father and grandfather, fishing is the only trade Mr Ayaucan, 46, has ever known. “But my son will do something else,” he says as seagulls and pelicans divebomb the shoal. “There’s no future in it. At this rate, the fish will soon be gone.”
Mr Ayaucan’s experience is mirrored by fishermen along the 1,500-mile Peruvian coast. One recent study found that Peruvian fishermen were having to put more and more time into getting smaller and smaller catches. It reported that many were now earning just half Peru’s minimum wage, currently 930 Sols (£190) a month.
Making matters worse, this month, the Spanish oil company Repsol managed to spill 11,000 barrels of crude from its refinery in Lima. So far, the slick has wiped out wildlife on 100 miles of coast.
The situation is urgent, warns Evelyn Luna-Victoria, head of the oceans program at the World Wildlife Fund’s Peru branch, who says Chinese fishing has seen a “major” increase recently.
“If we carry on like this, we’re going to exhaust stocks, thousands of fishermen will end up out of work and Peru’s exports will lose competitivity as consumers demand sustainability,” Luna-Victoria adds.