Thousands of dead sardines have washed up on the shores of Punta Chivato, a town on Bahía de Santa Inés in Baja California Sur, and locals are blaming commercial fishermen.
On Saturday morning a local fisherman first noticed sardines on the beach, and photos and footage of the deluge of dead fish rotting in the sand and littering the sea with silver bodies have since made the rounds on social media, where the reaction has been indignation.
The bay, located on the Sea of Cortés about 40 kilometers south of Santa Rosalía in the municipality of Mulegé, was overrun by at least 10 commercial fishing vessels from Sonora on Thursday and Friday of last week, locals say.
Residents suspect that the dead sardines are what was left behind after the sardine boats had filled their holds to overflowing before departing for processing plants in Sonora. There, they grind up sardines to make fish meal which is used in aquaculture as food for farmed fish.
Local residents and fishermen, who had been prohibited from fishing due to coronavirus restrictions, were outraged by the mess and annoyed by the pervasive smell of decomposing fish whose odor was carried over a distance of some 500 meters.
Yesterday, the National Fisheries Commission announced that the dead fish were not, in fact, a result of wanton waste, but rather the consequence of a net accidentally breaking on one of the fishing boats, causing the fish to spill into the water.
The owner of the vessel, which has not been identified, will be responsible for paying for the cost of cleaning up the beach, officials said.