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Fishermen unite to block oil exploration in their backyard

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Centro Stella Maris de Progreso. Photo: Handout

Progreso, Yucatán — What happened to other coastal towns won’t happen here.

That’s a promise from leaders in Yucatán’s fishing communities, from Celestún to El Cuyo, who have formed a bloc to prevent oil exploration here.

Gathered at the Centro Stella Maris de Progreso, they said they will take action, such as protests and blockades at port entrances if necessary.

Proposed oil exploration is 110 km/68 miles from Los Alacranes National Park. Map: Yucatán Expat Life treatment of a Diario de Yucatán graphic

Yucatán’s oil fields have been historically untapped, but are for now part of a federal auction to allow outside companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico. Bids go out in January, giving opponents some time to mobilize.

Fishermen are concerned that industrialization would devastate fishing in the area.

“What is going to happen is that they are going to force us to close the (fishing) plants, moor the boats and replace them with brothels, canteens and ‘stalls’ (drugs) because the fishing is going to end,” said Rudy Abad, a local entrepreneur.

Oil ended fishing activity in Campeche, Ciudad del Carmen and Frontera, Tabasco, he added. The damage, he added, could also extend to the tourist trade if the sea is contaminated.

Seventeen fishing communities that support 25,000 families depend on the Gulf of Mexico for their livelihood.

Source: Diario de Yucatán

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