Cooperative lacks major funding

By Rafael de Jesús López Villela
and José Alberto Figueroa Mora*

While the government is announcing hundreds of jobs created by the Pacific Coast Integrally Planned Center (CIP) megadevelopment in Escuinapa, the La Brecha cooperative is encountering adversity on the long road to turning their fishery into a source of jobs in sustainable tourism.

Within the district of Teacapán, located a few miles from the megaproject, the La Brecha cooperative has complied for the past 13 years with the rules in order to obtain both fishing permits and permits for operating a tourism business within a protected natural area of the federal coastal zone.  But they are still a long way from singing their victory, says José Javier García, the cooperative’s president.

They already have two 25 foot launches and two environmentally friendly 115 horsepower motors as well as a vehicle for transportation of visitors wishing to visit Camichín, an ecotourism site.  The National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (Conanp) provided them with this assistance and gave them a hand with the cleanup of Camichín and their facilities at their headquarters in La Brecha.

The fishing permit that they obtained from Sagarpa when they applied as a cooperative helped inspectors to identify the group’s fishermen and facilitated their exploitation of marine products.

They can now easily market snook, snapper, mullet Liseta mullet, constantino, pacific jack mackerel, white seabass, grunt and tarpon. All of these fish use the Teacapán estuary as a nursery where they spawn and then return to the open sea.  However, reproduction rates have decreased because there are some fishermen who are throwing cyanide into the water with each tide change.  This kills everything indiscriminately, from larvae to larger species and results in a high volume of bycatch that is wasted since the fishermen only take the largest fish.

There are two other major problems that the cooperative has encountered.  One is the fishermen who use nets with small mesh that catch fish of all sizes, even fry.  The other is with those who don’t respect fishing seasons.  For example, the closed season for mullet begins on December 1 and ends January 31, for the Liseta mullet, April 1 to July 1 and for shrimp April 1 to September 1.

The hurricane season also has its consequences.  As a result of hurricanes or bad weather, storms have continued to erode the part of the Gulf’s shoreline belonging to the cooperative.

And to complicate the matter, as soon as they were able to get funding to buy a a truck to transport their goods, it was stolen.  The cooperative had obtained about USD$12,000 with help from government officials and used it to purchase a 7 ton capacity Ford stake truck.

They sell all of their goods in Guadalajara or in Mexico City.  But on a return trip from Guadalajara City they were attacked close to Teacapán.  The thieves didn’t just steal the truck but got all of the money from the sale of the fish.  All of this just because they want to build a work project that provides mutual support for members of the community, says García.

CETMar (Center for Marine Technology Studies) No. 23


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Fishermen develop ecotourism

La Brecha looks for low impact activities

By Roberta Abigail Peralta Suárez, Yuvia Selene Velázquez Ibarra
and Griselda Abigail Betancourt Chávez*

Las almejas chiludas



Faced with federal investment in the Pacific Coast Integrally Planned Center (CIP), fishermen develop a low impact tourism project.

Photo: Roberta Peralta

With the idea of creating jobs, during the last year the members of the fishing cooperative Sociedad Cooperativa de Producción Pesquera de Pescadores de La Brecha have arranged for financial aid to carry out community cleanups, installation of latrines and the construction of ecotourism infrastructure.

Their goal is to jumpstart the project they call Camichín, named for a tree found in the coastal zone of the Gulf of California.  For the project, the cooperative has 6030 square feet in one corner of the estuary in the town of Teacapán known as La Brecha.  They are seeking the financial backing to build 20 cabins, a restaurant and a floating pier for two boats, and to be able to provide land transport between the airport and hotels.

Conscious of the affluence of tourists in nearby Mazatlán and of the investment of about USD $560,000 being promoted by the federal government in the tourism megaproject Costa Pacífico in the outskirts of the county seat of Escuinapa, the cooperatives consider the reconversion of part of the declining fishing industry to be feasible with the help of the Agriculture and Livestock Secretary, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (Sagarpa), the National Fishing Commission, and the National Commission on Protected Natural Areas.

The cooperative formed so as to obtain “scaled fish” commercial fishing permits.  It was formed in 1997 with 37 members and currently has 56 members.  President Javier García Padilla and Treasurer José Ramón Andrade remember when the organization became the guardian of the estuaries out of the necessity to protect the very resource that was sustaining their families.  They talk of how before there had been many problems with unscrupulous “outsiders”, fishermen who threw cyanide (a toxic chemical that kills everything including shrimp larvae and many other breeding species) into the estuaries.

Today, they say this no longer happens very often because of the increased patrols in these waters.  The cooperative protects the deeper part of the estuary which is 7 fathoms deep and where oysters, shrimp larvae, mullet, Liseta mullet, snapper, snook, tarpon and crabs, among other species, can be found.

They also commented that there is a need for training so that they can successfully diversify their business since the project for the Pacific Coast Integrally Planned Center (CIP), conceived by Fonatur (the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism), is just around the corner.

They believe that the CIP could benefit them if it brings jobs to Teacapán, but they question what is going to be done to protect the species found in the estuary when this enormous project is completed and the projected number of ships begin to arrive.

Mexican president Felipe Calderón announced the CIP megaproject in February 2009 on his visit to the municipality of Escuinapa, during the inauguration of a sculpture at the entrance to the land purchased for the CIP project from the Sinaloa government’s ruling families.

Sitio ecoturistico Photo: Roberta Peralta

“I know that the fishermen here in Escuinapa are concerned, that if the wetlands are ruined what might happen.  I assure them that that’s not going to occur.  We are going to save the wetlands as a natural ecosystem, something that people have to protect.  And may this center be a magnet for their respect of the environment,” Calderón asserted.

One of the most recent in a series of CIP megaprojects coordinated by Fonatur in the past 25 years and with the goal of showering profits on the businesses involved in infrastructure, the project known as Costa Pacífico is projected to cover 5,884 acres, twice the surface area of the world famous Cancún CIP.

CETMar (Center for Marine Technology Studies) No. 23









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