10,000 tons of salt lost in Celestún due to flooding

Salineros ask the authorities for pipes and pumps to drain the ponds, they offer the hand labor.

José Novelo Chac feels sadness, frustration, and helplessness, all at the same time, because he sees how nature has taken months of work. His voice breaks as he recounts his testimony. The recent rains caused it to lose one thousand tons of salt that it had harvested a few months ago to sell.

Due to the floods left by storm Gamma and Hurricane Delta, Celestún fishermen lost 10,000 tons of salt, which represents a loss of 10 million pesos, said Novelo Chac, secretary of the Federation of Fisheries and Aquaculture Cooperatives and Tourist Services in Celestún.

The fisherman indicated that the production of salt is of the utmost importance because it is extracted for sale in the critical months of the port when there is a fishing closure, but when the harvest is lost, more than 2,000 fishermen and their families are significantly affected.  

He asked for the support of the state and municipal authorities, with pipes, pumps to drain the ponds, fix the roads and trenches that were destroyed. They would put in the labor. “Look at the salineros, this activity is an alternative to fishing, which helps us,” he said.  

Photo: José Novelo Chac

Novelo Chac explained that due to the rains that generated these meteorological phenomena, the water grew a meter in height and took all the salt that they had harvested during the months of April and May, in their stables, which affected several cooperatives in the port. 

He calculated that more than 10,000 tons of salt were lost, each of which sold for an average of 1,000 pesos. Its main clients are ice factories, fishermen who use it as bait, and ranchers who use it as feed for bulls; the Progreso municipality, and in the states of Campeche and Tabasco.

According to the interviewee, normally for these months the salt has already been sold, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the processes were delayed, there was no demand, and that is why it accumulated and remained. “Now the hurricanes hit and all that salt is gone,” he said.  

This salt, he explained, is taken from ponds, cultivated fields, through an artisan process, a Mayan legacy, which has been passed down for generations by grandparents.  

This work, he stressed, is an alternative to fishing, another way to earn income during the “bad season”, which is closed.  

He said that it is the first time they have suffered a similar situation, not even with Hurricane Isidoro, in 2002; in terms of water these storms exceeded, he compared.