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Tilapia farms expand as poachers endanger other species in open water

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Fisherman on the Yucatecan coast haul their catch to market. Photo: Sipse

Among Mexico’s busiest states for fishermen, Yucatán appears unable to stop the spread of poaching in the Gulf of Mexico.

Illegal fishermen from Celestún to El Cuyo puts this year’s production at risk, warned the sub-delegation of the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (Conapesca).

One official, Félix Armando Luna Gómez reported that poaching occurs virtually throughout the year when fishermen capture sea cucumber, octopus, grouper and lobster out of season.

Enforcing miles of Gulf is a challenge for an under-resourced enforcement agency.

“Previously there were no inspections at sea because in Yucatán we do not have the boats to go out … but when we coordinate with the Secretariat of the Navy (Semar) and the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP), we carry out the inspections and that inhibits the poachers a bit,” said Luna Gómez. “They continue to make seizures of small boats.”

Yucatecan fisheries are also expanding their exports, preparing to introduce farm-raised tilapia to the United States. Most tilapia heads to the Riviera Maya, in Quintana Roo.

José Javier Castillo Ruz, commissioner of Fishing and Aquaculture of Yucatan, commented that the annual production of this species is around 5,000 tons, which are raised in 13 aquaculture units employing 165 workers.

“For its flesh, which is tender, white and tasty, tilapia consumption has increased in recent years and in different parts of the world. And that is in the face of the continuing shortage of other types of fish in the open sea, tilapia is being cultivated in large farms, as in Yucatán,” said Castillo Ruz.

Yucatan’s farming systems range from pilot scale to commercial production. The largest global exporter of tilapia is China.

Testing the market, one Progreso company traveled to Boston in March, offering samples at The Seafood Marketplace for North America expo.

Source: Sipse

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