The linkages between neo-liberalism and the fisheries sector in three of Latin America’s principal fishing nations are examined. The paper shows how macroeconomic policies have not only re-inforced the sector’s traditional export orientation but also permitted increased private participation in harvesting and processing. Production and export growth was facilitated by the absence of an effective regulatory framework as the belief that fish stocks were plenteous (following the designation of 200 mile Economic Exclusion Zones in the 1970s) encouraged governments to permit open access fisheries regimes. The belated recognition that there were indeed ‘limits to growth’ spawned a series of fisheries laws in the early-1990s which have sought to re-regulate the sector. To date these efforts have been largely unsuccessful — and the principal regional fisheries are presently both overcapitalised and dangerously overfished.