Areas of Focus

Latin America

Small scale fisheries underpin the livelihoods, food security and social fabric of coastal communities across Latin America.


Across Latin America the small scale fisheries sector directly employs millions of people and supports millions more who on these fisheries for food and livelihoods.

Countries such as Chile, Peru and Ecuador border the Humboldt Current System, which is home to roughly 20% of the total worldwide production of wild-capture of marine fish, including sardines, anchovies, hake, squid and tuna. Fish consumption in Latin America is growing at a staggering rate, expected to increase by 33% by 2030. Despite their importance to local economies and food security, disproportionately few sustainable seafood certifications and fishery improvement initiatives have focused on understanding the challenges and needs of Latin American small scale fisheries.

The majority of sustainable seafood efforts in the region to date have largely focused on policy- and market-based approaches, which have had success outside of Latin America. However, these approaches focus exclusively on fisheries’ environmental performance and rely on demand from northern markets, making them of limited use for the Latin American context.

Throughout Latin America, marginalization, poor management and lack of investment leads many fishers to sell poorly handled, low quality fish for low prices to limited markets, which drives the need to catch ever more fish in riskier and environmentally harmful ways to make ends meet. This drives a vicious cycle of overfishing and jeopardizes the ocean life on which we all depend.

We are building on a tried and tested business driven approach to seafood production in Latin America to ensure social, financial, and environmental sustainability for small scale fisheries.

This approach focuses on harnessing untapped financing and increasing profitability in small scale fishing enterprises to improve livelihoods and ecosystem health; creating a positive feedback loop for people, planet and profit.

This new, business development first model was originally developed by Dr. Hoyt Peckham and his team at SmartFish working with fisheries in Baja, Mexico. Building on their results and methodology, Hoyt joined Ocean Outcomes and we partnered with SmartFish to scale the approach across Latin America.

Working with core implementing partners on the ground, including SmartFish and Conservation International, as well as a broad range of relevant stakeholders, we’re now piloting our triple bottom line seafood approach in Guayana, Costa Rica and Mexico. As we complete initial assessment and scoping phases of the work and begin implementation phases, we’re expanding our approach in those countries and building on our existing work in other Latin America countries to meet the needs of fisheries in Peru, Chile and beyond.

Stories from the Field: Latin America

Meet O2's Chief Innovation Officer

Hoyt is an expert in Latin American fisheries and seafood, having worked for more than 20 years to ensure that oceans and those who depend on them thrive. At O2, he is working to scale the sustainable seafood movement by developing collaborative approaches that accelerate improvement in fisheries and aquaculture. Hoyt founded—and now serves as Board President of—The SmartFish Group, a triple impact seafood enterprise that incentivizes responsible artisanal fishing in Mexico. A Visiting Fellow at Stanford’s Center for Ocean Solutions, a Pew Marine Conservation Fellow, and a member of the IUCN MTSG, he holds an AB in Biology and English from Bowdoin College, a PhD in Evolutionary Ecology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Launching New Ventures certificate from Harvard University. Hoyt’s experience as a captain, diver, fisherman, cameraman, and seafood entrepreneur contribute to his successful development of community–based conservation solutions. Hoyt and his wife and daughters divide their time between La Paz, Mexico and Madrid, Spain.