Business & Economy

Honduran fisherfolk ask navy to protect them

San Lorenzo, Honduras, Jul 21 (EFE).- Representatives of the estimated 12,000-14,000 artisanal fishers who operate in the Honduran portion of the Gulf of Fonseca want their country’s navy to protect them from intrusions by the navies of neighboring El Salvador and Nicaragua.

“We have seen the absence of patrolling by the Honduran naval force,” Modesto Ochoa, chairman of the Committee for the Defense and Development of the Flora and Fauna of the Gulf of Fonseca (Coddeffagolf), told EFE during a recent tour of the zone.

“Every day we are threatened by naval units of Nicaragua and Salvador who enter our waters,” he said.

Part of the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Fonseca is an expanse of roughly 3,200 sq km (1,200 sq mi) that is shared among Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua within boundaries set in 1992 by the International Court of Justice.

The lion’s share of the gulf’s 261 km (162 mi) of coastline belongs to Honduras.

Nicaragua’s navy said Monday that it detained two Hondurans on July 15 for illegally fishing in Nicaraguan waters.

Fisherfolk in the Gulf of Fonseca “currently live under the law of the jungle, of save yourself if you can,” Ochoa said, as they often don’t catch enough to cover the cost of fuel for their boats due to the dwindling of fish stocks.

President Xiomara Castro’s government should assist the fisherfolk “so they can have greater income for their families that guarantees more adequate food security,” he said.

“We fisherfolk don’t have a subsidy like the transport workers and other occupations,” Ochoa said.

Coddeffagolf is working to raise awareness among fishers of the need to preserve the gulf’s shrinking resources for future generations by adjustments such as using the correct kind of net.

“We are asking the government to turn its eyes more toward the gulf, a little more toward the reality we artisanal fishers experience, and that it can be vigilant and apply laws that benefit the gulf itself,” Ochoa said.

The Gulf of Fonseca, according to Ochoa, is on the verge of environmental collapse because of pollution, the expansion of industrial shrimping, and climate change.

“In the gulf there is no adequate treatment for the control of waste, there is no environmental education when it comes to taking care of resources,” he said. “The schools at various levels must become involved in the care of resources and the protection of the gulf.”

Regarding the commercial shrimp industry, Ochoa faulted authorities for granting concessions without any input from residents and ignoring requirements to evaluate the environmental impact. EFE gr/dr

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