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Octopus season begins, causing tensions in one fishing village

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The beginning of octopus season provokes protest in San Filepe. Photo: Desde el Balcón

San Felipe, Yucatán — On the eve of the lucrative octopus season, dozens of residents here bodily blocked the port entrance, demanding authorities expel fishermen from out-of-town.

An estimated 150 people from the port, located in the eastern side of the state, also took their protests to the street and before the municipal headquarters.

The discontented residents managed to persuade the mayor of San Felipe, Gabriel Enrique Marrufo Marfil, to walk with them from house to house, to ask the “outsiders” to leave the town. They also went to the homes of businessmen whom they accuse of not keeping their promise not to hire “outsiders” for the pulpeada.

Octopus season runs from August to December in Yucatan. File photo

The residents of San Felipe also do not want those individuals — apparently fishermen from Veracruz and Tabasco — to participate in the octopus harvest season.

Similar events occurred a few days ago in the municipalities Dzilam de Bravo and Dzilam González, where people organized to pressure their own municipal leaders to drive such people out of their communities.

Octopus season represents one of the most sustainable and profitable times for fisheries in the entire country. Catches are controlled, keeping prices high.

The pursuit of pulpo keeps about 12,000 fishermen employed, working in 3,330 medium-sized boats and 382 smaller boats.

In 2016, Yucatecan fishermen hauled in 25,527 tonnes of octopus, adding 1.16 billion pesos to the economy. It’s mainly an export product: 70 percent of the product is sold in the European Union or Japan and 30 percent goes to the national market. Yucatán is the main supplier of pulpo to Mexico.

To protect the octopus population from over-catching, it is illegal to catch them after Dec. 16.

Sources: Desde el Balcón, Diario de Yucatán

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