CHIQUILÁ

A FISHING COMMUNITY

During a two week road-trip through the State of Quintana Roo, Mexico, I came across the fishermen town of Chiquilá.

 

This town is located on the Gulf of Mexico coast, and its location allows it to be the point of maritime link to Holbox, an island with high tourism.

According to INEGI, as of a 2010 census, 665 men and 620 women live in Chiquilá. The ratio of women to men is 0.932.  According to the same statistics, in Chiquilá, 66.9% of adults speak an indigenous language, particularly the Mayan language. In the town there are 284 homes. 

 

The main economic activity of Chiquilá is fishing, as well as the service of transportation of people and goods to the Holbox island, and seafood restaurants in which mostly women manage. Most men (adults and young-adults in training), are in charge of doing the fishing, driving tourism boats, and sell their fishing to different buyers such as hotels in Holbox, Cancun or even abroad, in places like Miami. 

The high demand for fishing, specially coming from hotels in Holbox, has caused (ironically) a negative impact on the aquatic environment of Chiquilá and in its economy. This, due to the unsustainable exploitation of native species of fish in the area such as the Mero (Grouper) fish and Peto (Wahoo) fish. As well as lobster and octopus. 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (SAGARPA) is one of the secretariats of state that is in charge of the regulation and promotion of primary economic activity. They provide "vedas" which prohibit to fish in a certain place or a certain species, for a certain period of time. Most of these "vedas" are related the breeding seasons of specific species. 

Talking with some of the fishermen in Chiquilá, they expressed their concerns related to other local fishermen that disrespect the "veda" periods in which they fish, say for example; lobster during their breeding periods. This impacts the number of lobsters in the area because not only are thew few lobsters being captured, but there are less lobsters that can breed their eggs to keep a natural cycle and a regular population of this species. Most of the times, the root of the problem comes when a big hotel or buyer pays a single fisherman more money for a certain amount of lobster during a "veda" season for the specie. And in a small town where their salaries as fishermen are low, it may be hard to say no for some.

On the bright side, most fishermen showed their concerns for their environment, which is what gives them food to eat, provides them economical resources, and a legacy for the future fishermen generations to come. They have a rule of always navigate for fishing with someone younger from the community to teach him how to fish sustainably and to protect their environment. 

This are some of the photographs I took of this dedicated fishermen that day. 

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