SAN FELIPE, Yucatan– Once again violence arises in the area of Rio Lagartos and San Felipe, when local fishermen from these shores found other fishermen capturing sea cucumber during the ban, which caused a confrontation resulting in one dead person and several boats burned.
On Friday May 13, fishermen of San Felipe and Rio Lagartos went out to sea and near “Las Coloradas”, encountered three boats illegally catching the product.
A dispute took place, in which one of the fishermen fell from a boat and got seriously injured with the propeller.
Boats and poachers were returned to the beach, in an area known as “Cancuncito”, and the injured man was taken to San Carlos Hospital in Tizimín, where he was officially pronounced dead hours later.
Protesting fishermen burned boats because the authorities have not agreed to grant permits for the capture of this highly priced echinoderm, plus they congregated at the gates of the Palacio Municipal of San Felipe and blocked the entrances to the building.
After these clashes between fishermen catching sea cucumber on the coast of Yucatan last weekend, that left one dead, the State Secretary General of Government, Roberto Rodriguez Asaf, told SIPSE that “one of the possible solutions [to violence ] would be to grant permissions to fish sea cucumber” but this would have to be analyzed by the proper authorities from the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (Conapesca) and the National Fisheries Institute (Inapesca).
Then, the official said that security has been strengthened along the coast of Yucatan to prevent more violence.
He said the Navy of Mexico, the Ministry of Public Security Yucatan (SSP), the Mexican Army and the Federal Police have tightened security both on land and at sea.
Meanwhile, PAN deputy, Joaquín Jesús Diaz Mena, accused the state government of being responsible for the wave of violence in the coastal towns. In an interview with Diario Excelsior, he stated that the incidents are caused by the government and reflect the incompetence of officials and employees of the state administration to control this situation.
“This is an extremely serious conflict for the fisheries sector in the area of Dzilam Bravo, San Felipe, Rio Lagartos and El Cuyo, caused by the irresponsibility of the Government of Rolando Zapata Bello, to ensure the security of its inhabitants”.
Sea cucumbers are echinoderms—like starfish and sea urchins. There are some 1,250 known species, and many of these animals are indeed shaped like soft-bodied cucumbers. All sea cucumbers are ocean dwellers, though some inhabit the shallows and others live in the deep ocean. They live on or near the ocean floor—sometimes partially buried beneath it.
Sea cucumbers feed on tiny particles like algae, minute aquatic animals, or waste materials, they break down these particles into even smaller pieces, which become fodder for bacteria, and thus recycle them back into the ocean ecosystem. Their function is vital for the balance of the ocean’s wildlife, and the government cannot just grant permits for fishermen to catch these species without control.