The fishing guild is increasingly leaving aside marine activity due to the great scarcity of scaled fish. They claim that this year, in addition to low fishing yields, the value of their catch has plummeted. Alberto Kantún, a fisherman, stated that this period has been so critical for the guild that the vast majority of his colleagues have had to quit fishing and pursue other activities.
He indicated that in the harbor, very few boats have been going out in the past few months due to the scarcity of the seasonal product, grouper, which has become very scarce. Furthermore, its price has been decreasing, with large grouper selling for 130 pesos per kilogram, while medium-sized ones are bought for 80 pesos. “Fishing is tough; the fish are not coming out, that’s why very few of us are going out. We have set aside grouper because no matter how much we want to go fishing, there is none,” he said.
The fisherman stated that out of the 10 boats that operate daily, they have been returning with chac chi, a type of fish, so its meat can be filleted and sold at a higher price within the harbor. They come ashore with a catch ranging from 15 to 20 kilograms. “We fillet the chac chi, that’s what we do with this fish; we sell it for 140 pesos in the harbor. The fish is not coming out as it should,” he added.
He emphasized that, for now, no fishermen are preparing to repair their boats and go out in search of the much-desired species, octopus, which brings in substantial profits and economic recovery for the fishing sector after the crisis they are going through due to the grouper fishing season. “No one is getting ready for now; there is no money to repair the boats. But that will be seen later, to clean and remove the dirt from the vessels, but that’s quick.”
Kantún highlighted that this year, there is speculation among the ports that the sale of octopus may start the season at a price that is not very favorable for the fishermen. Tentatively, it could begin at 40 pesos per kilogram, while in other seasons it has started at 80 pesos, a favorable price for the fishermen. “There is speculation that the price of octopus will be low. We’ll see what happens; if that’s the case, the season could start poorly.”
According to the fishermen, this year is considered one of the worst in terms of grouper fishing, as overfishing has caused the species to decline throughout the Yucatan coast.
So far, the majority of fishermen have started to take a break and stay on land, waiting for the octopus season to see how prices will start and if there will be a recovery.
“The price of fish has dropped too much this year; it has never been as low as it is now. We spend more on gasoline to go out than the profit we make with the little catch,” concluded Alberto Kantún.