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The fishboat moments before it collided with a larger vessel in the upper Gulf of California. The fishboat moments before it collided with a larger vessel in the upper Gulf of California.

Fisherman dies after collision in clash with conservationists

Family members are calling the man's death a murder

A fisherman who was injured in the upper Gulf of California on Thursday during an attack by fishermen on two vessels owned by a conservation society died Friday evening.

Mario García Toledo, whose fishboat collided with a larger vessel owned by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, died in a Mexicali hospital of trauma caused by multiple injuries to his abdomen and pelvis, said Agustín Toledo, a family member from San Felipe, Baja California, in a statement Saturday.

Toledo blamed the conservation group for García’s death.

“This morning, the Toledo García family announces the painful loss of another brother: Mario García Toledo has passed on to eternal life, yet another victim of the violence by foreign environmentalists in the Sea of Cortés,” he said. “The family of the now-deceased awaits strong justice on the part of federal authorities in Baja California. May this killing not go unpunished by each one of the corresponding authorities. We don’t want more victims.”

Accounts differ over what happened during the incident, which took place in an area of the upper Gulf of California designated as a “zero tolerance” refuge zone for the endangered vaquita marina porpoise.

What both sides can agree upon is that García’s small boat smashed into the hull of the Farley Mowat and broke apart, causing serious injuries to García and another unidentified fisherman who remains hospitalized with fractures to the cranium and collarbone and other injuries.

However, fishermen blamed the conservation group for the fishermen’s injuries, and his family refers to his death as a murder.

According to Sea Shepherd representatives and military officials who were on board the Farley Mowat, fishermen opposed to the prohibitions against fishing in the protected area threw Molotov cocktails and lead weights at the Farley Mowat and another Sea Shepherd vessel, the Sharpie, around 7:00 a.m.

As the Farley Mowat began to leave the scene, the society said, one of the fishermen’s boats swerved in front of it and smashed into the hull. The smaller vessel broke in two, and its two passengers were thrown into the sea.

After being rescued the two men were taken on board the Sharpie for emergency first aid provided by the navy. Both were airlifted for hospitalization.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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