domingo, diciembre 11, 2005

Heroes, Victims & Villains

Whale Rescued From Net On November 11th of this year Capitán David Otero of the panga Black Marlin found a 10-meter long humpback whale tangled in a fishing net about 50 meters long. The whale was injured on one of its flippers as well as its tail. Capitán Otero was able to cut the whale free from the net with a knife, and he reported that it appeared to be pregnant and that due to its wounds it was not submerging but instead remained swimming on the water surface. Later the Navy observed the whale in front of Las Brisas in Ixtapa for a few hours, and another fisherman, Capitán Isay Hernández said he saw the whale in the mouth of Zihuatanejo Bay. The Navy said the whale may be pregnant and seeking a place to give birth, and that apparently due to its injuries it was staying near the coast. Just a few days prior to this, several tuna boats were seen fishing a few miles off the coast, and a group of dolphins had also been spotted trapped in nets and were injured as well. Maybe it's time to boycott Mexican tuna again. It doesn't appear that the tuna fishermen are respecting the law or the wildlife. ¡Gracias al Capitán Otero! Sad news (whale followup) The pregnant whale cut free from a fishing net by Capitán David Otero was found dead on November 15th at Playa Larga. Apparently the net had fractured its tail and it could not swim well enough to feed and survive. I won't hold my breath waiting for the "responsible authorities" to carry out an investigation or to detain and punish the fishermen responsible (most likely one of the tuna boats that passed through here days before the whale was freed from the net). Dozens of Sailfish Slaughtered Longlines (baited fishing lines of up to 4 kilometers in length) used by poachers were discovered on November 25th of this year by local fisherman Gilberto Anzo Gutiérrez of the fishing boat "R3". About 50 sailfish were found hooked on the line, and while Gilberto and some tourists fishing with him were destroying the line one of the poachers, Alfonso Gaytán Godínez, approached in his boat and threatened their lives. The next day nine more local fishing boats went in search of more longlines, and the captain of "La Ilusión I", Simón López Barroso, found another longline with over 50 trapped fish. While he and other local captains were freeing the sailfish and destroying the longline they were also approached by poachers who threatened them. The poachers have operated out of Zihuatanejo for years with impunity while the "responsible authorities" have done nothing but turn a blind eye to the problem, which is why our local fishermen feel obligated to take matters into their own hands so that Zihuatanejo doesn't end up like Acapulco where there is no sport or commercial fishing industry to speak of since they overfished many local species to death due to lack of regulations and enforcement and even less self policing. Please help us protect our local billfish species and our local sportfishing industry by insisting that captains practice catch and release before it's too late. Otherwise, like our once pristine hillsides and clear blue bay, our sportfishing adventures will be nothing but a memory. Also, do not order marlin, sailfish or dorado from any local restaurant menu. Their commercialization is supposed to be prohibited, but since so many people continue ordering them the local restauranteurs continue purchasing them from poachers and the vicious cycle continues. Please be a part of the solution, not part of the problem. The Federal Law that declares billfish and dorado a protected species exclusively for sportfishing can be found in Artículo 84 of the Reglamento Federal de la Pesca.

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