Originally Posted by Cheechako
There's a very interesting article in theis month's Cruising World about a couple headed west to the So Pac about 35 miles off mexico (if I remember right, might be further south) They run into a net in the dark. Then end up with a panga with two fisherman along side. Eventually they get free but then realize they are surrounded by nets and Pangas... all using illegal drift nets. No lights, open boats... a light bulb on a wire attached to the boat battery in the bilge
that only comes on (by one fisherman holding a wire on the battery post) if you are getting very near them.
I'm not sure of the illegality of various netting types in Mexico. I met a guy at a party in La Paz
who works in the fisheries as an ecology engineer
. PhD guy, very nice. He listed out a couple of things that were news to me:
- Bottom trawling, drift netting, and other techniques regarded as illegal and destructive are generally legal
as each country has jurisdiction over its own waters (out to ~200nm).
- He told me that in some areas, like the northern Sea of Cortez
, regulated bottom trawling doesn't seem to have any ecological impacts that they can identify. In other areas where there are impacts, it's not allowed. I think that's how a lot of people get confused about what's illegal and what isn't, at least in Mexico, because what's okay in one place might be regulated in another and completely illegal in yet another.
- It's not illegal for fishermen to carry illegal fishing
apparatuses, it's only illegal to deploy them. In the case of illegal long lining, very few of the pangas are sitting around waiting by their floats and they're not dumb enough to haul them up with a warship nearby. Nor is a warship going to decimate some guy's gear
and his haul by yanking them up, which may in fact be legal
- Fishermen in Mexico, especially in Baja
and along the productive coastlines, have a lot of political pull. It's also recognized as the only way that families can really feed and support themselves. I'm not defending shark finning by any stretch of the imagination but if you want to solve it you need to address the core
issues of poverty first.
Wherever poor people are found with mouths to feed, the less that morality and ecological impacts weigh into their decisions. It's not that crazy to imagine that plenty of people are faced with working for cartels, going hungry, or fishing
beyond the law to make ends meet. If those were your options, what would you choose?