Angry fishermen in Sonora attacked environmental officials Wednesday night and torched 15 vehicles, including trucks, boats, and ATVs.
Worried that their livelihoods were being threatened by federal environmental and health assessment programs, the fishermen, from Golfo de Santa Clara, physically attacked 28 officials from the federal environmental agency Profepa, the National Protected Areas Commission (Conanp) and the National Aquaculture and Fisheries Commission (Conapesca).
The fishermen’s beef is that they want to be able to fish corvina, but the issuing of a permit by the National Aquaculture and Fisheries Commission (Conapesca) has been delayed.
New regulations require that an environmental impact statement must be approved by the Environmental Secretariat (Semarnat) before the fishing vessels sail.
According to the federal environmental agency Profepa, the fishermen’s collective didn’t file the statement until February 22, a few days before the start of the corvina fishing season. Officials said it showed irresponsibility on the part of the leadership.
All fishing activity in the upper area of the Sea of Cortés is currently restricted as part of efforts to control the illegal fishing of totoaba, and the indirect and negative impact that activity has on the dwindling population of the vaquita porpoise.
Along with tighter fishing controls came a red tide warning earlier this year, limiting the fishing of clams and oysters in the waters between Golfo de Santa Clara and Salina bay.
The fishermen have stated they are in a “desperate” situation, and the added inconvenience of the compulsory environmental impact statement makes things worse.
Source: El Universal (sp)