Fishing Activity in Argentina

Argentina fishing is an economic activity with high expectations for the future, given the importance of fisheries resources. Argentina is a country with a long marine coast, with 4700 km of coastline on the South Atlantic Ocean, plus inland waters, and aquaculture.

The Argentine Sea is characterized by its size and biodiversity, making it one of the fishing banks, richest on Earth. Are about a thousand fish species, including fish, shellfish and mammals that live in its waters. The platform of the Argentine Sea covers 1,000,000 km2.

The origin of the Fishing Activity in Argentina

Ships and profile of the city of Mar del Plata. 1920
Pesqueros y perfil de la Ciudad de Mar del Plata 1a

The first rule of legislation on fishing Argentina dates back to 1821.
The commercial fishing industry evolves slowly. At first the activity took place in the Province of Buenos Aires in the towns of General Lavalle, Bahia Blanca, Carmen de Patagones, San Antonio Este, Rawson and Puerto Deseado; and it was fishing from shore and in boats.
By the late nineteenth century, the entrance of Italian and Spanish immigrants gave new impetus to the activity and innovation in of fishing gear.

Ships and profile of the city of Mar del Plata. 1920
Pesqueros en la playa de Mar del Plata 1b

Mar del Plata, Argentina seaside city, was by then an emerging tourist destination with beaches on the Atlantic Ocean.

The demand for fresh seafood to restaurants and hotels, stimulated from the construction of the port of Mar del Plata in 1922, the establishment of most Italian colony of fishermen who also managed to get their fresh produce to the City Buenos Aires.

There were at this time about 140 steamers and 80 sailing boats, and catch was about 15,000 tons.

Dock and Beach Puerto Madryn. Province of Chubut
Muelle y Playa Puerto Madryn. Prov. de Chubut 1c
Prefecture of Puerto Madryn
Prefectura de Puerto Madryn 1
Coast and dock of Puerto Madryn
Puerto Madryn 1
Sailing Vessels at the beginning of the 20th century
Embarcaciones a Vela 1f

Fishing activity (1960-1989)

However, it was an international situation, which drove the growth of the sector. During the 1970s, the depletion of fishing grounds in the northern fishing countries made it possible for Argentina to export white hake. It was also able to buy high-altitude fresh-water vessels, surpluses from fishing activity in the northern hemisphere.

This change in international fishing activity, and the presence of foreign freezer vessels, which sought catches away from their coasts, was decisive. Argentina then had to sanction Law No. 20136 in 1973. In this law, it is established that living resources in Argentine maritime zones are property of the state. In turn, the state grants exclusive exploitation to Argentine vessels, with permission for fishing activity.

The highest catches recorded in this period, almost exclusively of hake, occurred in 1974 with the catch of 174 thousand tons.

In general terms, it could be estimated that between 1960 and 1989, the growth of the sector is historically associated with the incorporation of fishing units. Meanwhile, the drop in activity focuses on national and international crises, and on policy changes in the fishing countries.

Fishing evolution (1990)

Shrimp Fishing Vessel
Buque Pesquero Camaronero
Fishing Vessel Centurion del Atlántico
Centurion del Atlántico 2a
Buque Pesquero Palangrero Argenova XXI
Argenova Longline Fishing Vessel 2
Buque Pesquero Congelador
Freezer Fishing Vessel 3

Continuing with the evolution of the sector, the catch capacity of the national fleet increased in the 1990s, due to the increase in the number of vessels and their fishing potential.

However, the uncontrolled increase in production brought another problem. The common hake, of which 585,491 tons were caught, in 1997, was declared in a state of emergency and severe restrictions were imposed on its capture.

In summary, it went from a situation of under exploitation to one of excess catches. In this context, the fishing sector had to rethink its exploitation policies and apply responsible fishing regulations, in order to achieve a sustainable development of the Argentine fishing activity.

The intervention of the State regulatory authority, together with the fishing sector, was fundamental to determine the degree of sustainable exploitation. That is, to adapt the fishing effort: the pressure on the resource or fishing power by the vessels, to the available resources.

Consejo Federal Pesquero

The Federal Fisheries Council was created by the Federal Fisheries Act No. 24.922. The organization, composed of representatives of the Nation and the provinces coastline, has among its main functions, setting the Argentina fisheries policy, planning national fisheries development and channel research tasks. It has in particular the role of establishing yearly Total Allowable Catch by species, fishing permits approved, establish the rights of removal and set fees for fishing activities, and regulate and set standards for the system of resource management by catch quotas.

It is essential by the CFP involving actors fishing (fishing authorities, research organizations, chambers of industry), in discussing the main aspects inherent to the process of the quota system. For this discussion is taken into account, prioritize the most commercially valuable target species and in which the main activity of the fishing fleet is concentrated: Polish, black hake, hoki and hake.

The Fishing Industry

Workers on a Fishing Vessel
Workers on a Fishing Vessel
Fresh Squid Plant
Fresh Squid Plant
Fresh Fish Processing Plant Workers
Fresh Fish Processing Plant Workers
Fish Packaging for Fresh or Frozen consumption.
Fish Packaging for Fresh or Frozen consumption

The fishing activity in Argentina, is one of the economic activities involving the exploitation of renewable natural resources. These resources properly managed, can be preserved for future generations.

In 2013 the total marine catch totaled 821,000 tons, estimating that 63.2% are fish, molluscs and 24.1% to 12.7% for crustaceans, which marks an increase of catches in historical percentage of crustaceans.

By 2018, the total catches are somewhat lower, but the ratio of the volume of catches per species varies substantially. The percentage of capture of crustaceans has clearly increased

Period 2018: (according to the Ministry of Agribusiness)

  • Total Catches: The volume of total marine catches is 777,855 tons.
  • Fish: Corresponding 415,090 tonnes to fish, with the protagonism of the hake hubbsi
  • Crustaceans: Headed by shrimp, crustaceans, totaled 250,768 tons.
  • Molluscs: On the other hand, the mollusks whose star is the squid illex , reached 111,967 tonnes.

The challenge of the fishing industry is to guide their efforts towards high value-added per unit of weight in fish, and the pursuit of market opportunities for those species whose catches can still have a significant increase.

Fresh Squid Illex Argentinus
Fresh Squid Illex Argentinus 5d
Fresh shrimp
Fresh shrimp

Argentine Fishing Ports

Port of Mar del Plata. Orange vessels
Port of Mar del Plata 5e

The port has the largest number of landings and processing plants nationwide is the port of Mar del Plata, Province of Buenos Aires. Next in importance Puerto Madryn (Chubut Province); Puerto Deseado and Punta Quilla (Puerto Santa Cruz) (Provincia de Santa Cruz); Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego Province, Antarctica and South Atlantic Islands), Comodoro Rivadavia (Chubut Province); Necochea- Quequén, and Bahia Blanca (Buenos Aires); San Julian (Santa Cruz Province); San Antonio Oeste (Province of Rio Black); and Caleta Paula (Santa Cruz Province).

Inauguration of the Porto Belo Ship II
Inauguration of the Porto Belo Ship II 6b
Moored Ships
Moored Ships 7

The Buenos Aires port is characterized by the activity of the fresh fish vessels and processing of catches in processing plants. While in the Patagonian fishing ports freezer vessels and surimi predominate.

Sea Fishing

Sea Fishing in the Northern or Buenos Aires Sector

This sector has about 88,900 sq. mi. (230,000 km2), almost a fourth of the Argentine Sea, where half the total fish output in the country is caught . The main ports are: Mar del Plata, Necochea, Quequén, Ingeniero White, Bahía Blanca and Río Salado. The most important port is Mar del Plata, as it has an infrastructure which allows for all the production stages to be carried out. The Mar del Plata fleets catch an 80 per cent of the total Buenos Aires output.

The main species is hake, which represents 60% of the catch. Other species such as anchovy, pollack, whiting and gatuzo are also caught. Among the crustaceans, the most popular is the shrimp and squid among molluscs.

The Southern or Patagonian Sector

The main ports are: Ushuaia, Madryn, Deseado, Comodoro Rivadavia and San Antonio Oeste. In this area they catch hake, king-crab, squid and mussels. In Peninsula de Valdés kelp is usually collected.

Continental Fishing

River and lake fishing

Only reaches 2% of the total production due, among other things, pollution of the waters. In Parana, Plate and Uruguay are caught: tarpon, mackerel, surubí, gold and patí. In the Patagonian lakes the planting of stands out salmon and trout. In lakes and lagoons, commercial fishing is irrelevant to economic activity. There, sport fishing stands out.


Pools for fish farming in the sea
Pools for fish farming in the sea 9

The practice of aquaculture for commercial use began in 1990. The total production in 2006 reached 2,500 tonnes, comprising 14 species. It extends from the Colorado River to Tierra del Fuego.
The current production of the country concerned with the cultivation of freshwater fish, freshwater crustaceans, marine bivalve molluscs: oysters and mussels; besides amphibians and aquatic reptiles.
The fish that are grown are: trout, pacu, surubí, tilapia, common carp, bighead carp, silver carp and amur.
The production of crustaceans is limited to “freshwater lobster red claw”; while amphibians are now represented by the cultivation of the bullfrog, and finally, aquatic reptiles as being of two native species of alligator.

Trout farming is done with water from glaciers, from Jujuy, to the south of the island of Tierra del Fuego, with a production of over 1,300 tons. for 2006.

There are also numerous productions on the ground using tanks and raceways, developed by small and medium producers generally related to tourist routes. In the north are located in the provinces of Salta, Jujuy and Córdoba; and in the south, in the towns of Bariloche and El Bolsón, in the province of Rio Negro, and in the province of Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and South Atlantic Islands.


All graphic material in this report is edited digitally. The customized version by shown on this page is performed based on the following documents:

  1. {a- … – f} version on [Original old black and white photographs] Recovered November, 2014, from:  Fundación Histamar
  2. {a- … – d} [Color photographs of fishing vessels] Retrieved November, 2014, from: Fundación Histamar
  3. Miguel A. Galdeano (2007) [Color photograph of fishing vessel] Retrieved November, 2014, from: Congelador Carolina P
  4. Official Portal of Argentina: [Fishing activity color image] Recovered from: enlace, noviembre, 2014.
  5. {a- … – e} [Color images of processing plants and vessels] Retrieved November, 2014, from: Fundación Nuestro Mar
  6. {a-b}[Color images] Retrieved November, 2014, from: Industrias Pesqueras 
  7. [Color image of moored ships] Retrieved November, 2014, from: Pescare
  8. [Fishing vessel color photography] Recovered November, 2014, from: Fundación Histamar
  9. Ministry of Agroindustry: [Color image of marine fish farming] Retrieved November 2014, from: Fisheries and Aquaculture Documento Web