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Juan Carlos Sueiro, an economist who has worked in government and with public interest groups on coastal protection, said the die-offs highlight Peru’s general lack of readiness for emergencies of this sort.

“The resources are scarce and in a situation like this there is no procedure or team in place,” he said.

A larger problem, Sueiro added, is Peru’s incomplete monitoring of the health of its coastal waters.

Beaches are monitored during the summer by the Health Ministry, and bays and other areas crucial to the fishing industry are checked by IMARPE, an agency of the fisheries division of Peru’s Production Ministry.

Peru doesn’t have a policy of coastal territory management,” said Sueiro. “It is probably the most backward in the entire region.”

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