Anchovy from Mar del Plata (Argentina)

Facts & Figures

25-35 fishermen
Mar del Plata, Argentina

“The sea is my happy place”

Welcome to Mar del Plata, where Jorge Ibalo captains the Rafaela; a small bright orange fisher boat. Jorge started out doing casual work in the local harbor and worked his way up to become a fisherman in the 1990s, unable to resist the lure of the ocean. Ever since, he’s been proud to fish for the small but oh-so-tasty anchovy. While he sometimes misses his wife and three sons, he can no longer do without the sea. It’s his happy place!

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Great catch

As soon as Jorge Ibalo and his crew locate a school of anchovies, they’ll lower a cone-shaped net into the water and tow it behind their boat. Next, the catch is hauled on board. Because the net is towed in the middle of the water column and the anchovies swim in big, compact schools this is a highly selective method that doesn't harm the seafloor. That is how Jorge and his crew sustainably fish for Argentinean anchovies.

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The fishermen do not fish all year round; the fishing season runs from September to November when schools of anchovies appear massively off the coast. Before the season starts, nobody knows how many anchovies will arrive as this species is greatly influenced by changes in water temperature and currents. The fishermen know exactly how much they are allowed to catch at most, but whether they will reach that limit remains a question at the start of every season.

Small fishing boats in Mar del Plata

Mar del Plata is also known as the pearl of the Atlantic. In summertime this very popular sea side town, with tropical beaches and bathing resorts, is full of tourists. It’s much quieter the rest of the year, but the port is always teeming with small fishing boats, dotting the blue waters with orange and red. “The orange boats fish close to the coast, the red ones further out at sea,” says Jorge. His boat, the Rafaela is Jorges pride and joy!

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The Rafaela was among the first group of 8 boats in Mar del Plata to receive the certificate for good marine management and sustainable fishing methods, awarded by the Marine Stewardship Council.

A touch of Italy in Argentina

When you wander around Mar del Plata you’re bound to notice that there’s a touch of Italy about the place. Some of the locals have Italian blood coursing through their veins, that’s why. In the 1950s, several families left the island of Ischia, just off Naples, to try their luck on the Argentine coast where the waters were said to be full of fish.

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A tiny fish with lots to offer? That’s the anchovy. This little powerhouse looks a bit like the herring and comes from a huge family of over 140 subspecies that are found all over the world. It feeds on plankton and young fish, and like the sardine it’s delicious and oily! The Sea Tales anchovies get cured in barrels for at least six months to get the most flavor!