73.9 F
Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The curse of the sea cucumber trade in Yucatán

Recent headlines

Yucatán coronavirus cases exceed 55,000 as daily infections rise

After four consecutive weeks of declines, coronavirus infections rose in Yucatán during the last seven days.

Parque de la Madre: Small Centro park turned feminist icon

The Parque Morelos, now mainly known as Parque de la Madre - mother’s park, shelters a replica of Charles Lenoir’s sculpture “Maternite.” 

New permit allows restaurants in Yucatán to stay open longer

Yucatán's state government has announced that restaurants will now be allowed to remain for one hour longer, until 11 pm.
Yucatán Magazine
Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

The sea cucumber trade has invited violence, corruption and drug use, a Bulgarian journalist has found. Photo: Maritime Herald

A Bulgarian journalist took a deep dive into the world of black-market Yucatán sea cucumbers, a lucrative, high-demand export that has been linked to corruption, violence and drug use in fishing villages.

Svilen Petrov, a 31-year-old marketing manager and co-chief editor of Maritime Herald, gained the confidence of several pepineros, divers who risk their lives to catch the leathery marine creatures.

The fishermen took Petrov to one of many hidden sancochaderos, where they process the sea cucumber in a secluded mangroves forest reachable only by motorboat.

Pepineros live dangerously, diving deep underwater, sometimes only to have their haul snatched by armed pirates.

Stakes are relatively high. In Dzilam de Bravo, a kilo of raw cucumber is sold for 150 pesos. If it is marketed as cooked, the price can reach up 1,400 pesos. In Hong Kong, it fetches $3,000 dollars per kilogram.

In Mexico, because it is a protected species, only 10 days a year are set aside for legal fishing. The rest happens outside the law, although a source told Petrov that some authorities turn a blind eye to the activity in exchange for a cut of the revenue.

Divers are often former fishermen, but fishing stock has declined in the last 10 years. They work six to seven days a week, from 4 in the morning to 7 at night; many use cocaine to keep up.

The entire enterprise has become a curse on the community, said Julio Villanueva Rivero, mayor of Dzilam de Bravo.

“If there was no sea cucumber, there would be fewer problems,” said Villanueva. “People with other customs have arrived, alcoholism has proliferated, and above all drug use.”

See the entire story at the Maritime Herald.

More news

Bonampak: Mérida’s newest hot spot is a feast for the eyes

Mérida’s most Instagram-worthy bar has opened its doors after filling its walls with color.

The MACAY, Yucatán’s only museum of its kind, says goodbye

The MACAY has been housed in Mérida’s Ateneo Peninsular complex since 1994. Photo: Courtesy Yucatán’s contemporary art museum,...

A plea to end Mérida’s days of unchecked growth

A new report titled "the costs of urban expansion in Mexico" has found that Mérida's strategy for growth is alarmingly deficient.

Looking to buy ceramics? Look no further than Ticul

When entering the town on the road from the nearby town of Muna, you will notice a string of several shops ceiling ceramic crafts, plates, ornaments, and pots.