Sea cucumber harvesting season could bring conflicts to coastal communities

(Photo: Megamedia/GABINO TZEC VALLE.)

PROGRESO.- The season of sea cucumber harvesting only lasts 15 days and is expected to leave a quota of 1,200 tons. It already started on Saturday April 7 but there could be a conflict as fishermen from Celestún are arriving in Progreso with their boats in order to capture this species.

According to Alberto Hernández Chi, a boat with three fishermen can catch up to 150 kilos of the echinoderm, which is barely enough to cover the cost of the trip.

The fishermen are paid $ 50 pesos per kilo of fresh sea cucumber, last year they were paid $ 100 for the same amount. The salted kilo of sea cucumber is paid at $ 520 pesos, but last year, it was paid at $ 700 pesos per kilo. Boat owners and traders stated that they can not raise the price because buyers do not want to pay more.

Progreso fishermen pointed out that the capture of sea cucumber is done from Uaymitún to Dzilam Bravo, in an area between 6 and 10 miles off the shore, at depths of 10 to 12 meters, so diving is done with compressors.

In Chicxulub Puerto, where many fishermen are dedicated to the cucumber fishery, the permit holders said that this season they decided to not bring divers from Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, due to the high fees they charged, so they hired local divers.

They also pointed out that due to the fact that in the west of the coast there is not a lot of sea cucumber, fishermen from Celestun have already started arriving at the coast of Progreso-Chicxulub on their own boats, to catch Sea Cucumber in the strip from Uaymitún to Dzilam Bravo, and this situation could definitely lead to conflicts between locals and outsiders.

Alberto Hernández pointed out that among the fishermen of Chicxulub there is discomfort due to the arrival of foreign fishermen and that the majority has expressed that they will not allow their camps to be installed in this part of the coast.