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Thieves target fishermen in Gulf at least twice monthly

Thieves often take boats' engines, fishing equipment and radios

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Rafael Combaluzier Medina. Photo: Diario de Yucatan

At least two armed robberies every month have been reported by fishermen off the coast of Yucatan this year.

Crimes increased when the lucrative octopus season began, said Rafael Combaluzier Medina, secretary of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture of Yucatan (Sepasy). 

Thieves often rip the engines off boats while grabbing fishing equipment and radios, explained the state official.

{Previously: Octopus season is like gold to highway thieves on land }

The commander of the IX Naval Zone, Carlos Humberto Lanz Gutiérrez, said these crimes occur because “the fisherman is not vigilant and is calm, thinking that nothing will happen.”

“It takes between an hour and an hour and a half to disassemble the engine,” said Lanz Gutiérrez. “If they were careful … with their cell phone they could call. They are four miles away, they have coverage, they can talk and say they are being assaulted.”

When asked about the lack of security on the Yucatecan coast, Combaluzier Medina replied that it is a “complicated” matter due to the length of the coast, so “protocols have to be sought so that they [the fishermen] have a system in case a boat is approaching.”

He added that survival courses will be provided to fishermen, and also recommended they use geolocators so that the authorities can easily find them. 

In recent months, several people were arrested and charged with high-seas robberies, but no other suspects have been located, said Lanz Gutierrez.

This is the high season for fishing, and the worst time for fishermen to be targeted by thieves. Pulpo, as it is known in Spanish, keeps about 12,000 fishermen employed. They work in over 3,000 medium-sized boats and around 400 smaller boats.

Its revenue adds 1.16 billion pesos to the economy; 70 percent of the product is sold in the European Union or Japan. Yucatan is the main supplier of octopus to Mexico.

With information from La Jornada Maya

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