After long wait, Chubut’s Argentine red shrimp fishery enters MSC assessment

The near-shore fishery is starting assessment after a decade of work
Grupo Veraz Commercial Director Federico Angeleri (far left) and CeDePesca Executive Director Ernesto Godelman (second from left) at SENA
Grupo Veraz Commercial Director Federico Angeleri (far left) and CeDePesca Executive Director Ernesto Godelman (second from left) at SENA | Photo by Cliff White/SeafoodSource
6 Min

A fishery representing 60 percent of the Argentine red shrimp catch has officially entered the assessment process for Marine Stewardship Council certification after more than a decade of work.

“This has been a very, very challenging project, to be honest,” Federico Angeleri, the commercial director at Mar del Plata, Argentina-based Grupo Veraz, a major participant in the fishery, said at an announcement at the 2024 Seafood Expo North America. “We started working on this in 2014 and we faced many challenges, including three different government changes, three different undersecretaries of fisheries [to whom] we had to explain what we were doing.”

The near-shore fishery, based out of the port of Chubut, developed a fishery improvement project (FIP) in 2014, with the offshore fishery following in 2016. At the 2018 Seafood Expo Global, government officials and nonprofit leaders from Argentina said they hoped to obtain MSC certification for both fisheries in 2019. But the South American country's institute of fisheries, INIDEP, did not develop a limit reference point for shrimp stock – a point at which fishing is no longer considered sustainable – until 2022, and other updates and rulemaking moves necessary for certification took longer than expected, according to Angeleri.

“There are still further steps – we have six to eight months of work ahead that is going to be challenging as well, but we hope to have [certification] by next season,” he said.

MSC Chief Program Officer Nicolas Guichoux said retailers around the globe now demand MSC certification in order to even consider carrying wild-caught seafood products.  He praised the members of the FIP for their perseverance and wished them luck with the assessment.

“There are a lot of retail partners in America, Japan, and elsewhere who are very eager to demonstrate they are sourcing from a sustainable source,” Guichoux said. “We will do everything we can to support you when hopefully you get that certification [to make those connections].”

Argentine red shrimp has been one of the fastest-growing sub-categories of seafood in terms of sales over the past 15 years. The total catch surpassed 200,000 metric tons (MT) in 2023, with the near-shore fishery accounting for 89,871 MT of the total. The U.S. imported just 211 MT of Argentine red shrimp in 2010, but direct imports from Argentina to the United States grew to 5,071 MT in 2015, and a high of 17,339 MT in 2020. In 2023, the U.S. imported 14,300 MT worth USD 181.5 million (EUR 166.7 million), down from 200.6 million (EUR 184.2 million) on 16,433 MT in 2022.

In recent years, the product has seen increased uptake in the U.S., China, and Japan. Maritime Products International President Matthew Fass previously predicted Argentine red shrimp has even greater potential as buyers and consumers continue to become more familiar with its unique characteristics.

Though the overall stock abundance has decreased since its peak in 2017, it has not reached concerning levels yet, according to Argentina’s National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (INIDEP). More than 99 percent of shrimp landings were covered with inspections, demonstrating the effective management of the fishery, according to CeDePesca, an NGO with the mission of helping Latin American fisheries work toward more sustainable practices.

CeDePesca Executive Director Ernesto Godelman told SeafoodSource the main holdup in the certification has been

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