The Maritime Region
A maritime region constitutes a fourth significant environment within the Peruvian domain. The waters off the Peruvian coast are swept by the Humboldt (or Peruvian) Current that rises in the frigid Antarctic and runs strongly northward, cooling the arid South American coastline before curving into the central Pacific near the Peru-Ecuador border. Vast shoals of anchovy, tuna, and several varieties of other valued fish are carried in this stream, making it one of the world's richest commercial fisheries. The importance of guano has diminished since the rise of the anchovy fishing industry. The billions of anchovy trapped by modern flotillas of purse seiners guided by spotter planes and electronic sounding devices are turned into fish meal for fertilizer and numerous other industrial uses. Exports of fish meal and fish products are of critical importance for Peru's economy. For this reason, changes in the environmental patterns on the coast or in the adjacent ocean have devastating consequences for employment and, therefore, national stability. The periodic advent of a warm current flowing south, known as El Niņo (The Christ-child), and intensive fishing that has temporarily depleted the seemingly boundless stocks of anchovy have caused major difficulties for Peru.
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