Carmelo the Lobster Hunter
We ventured to the small village of Punta Allen on a narrow dirt road two hours south of Tulum to investigate the fragile relationship between lobster hunting and the changing environment. Carmelo, our captain, shared his 30+ years of fishing experience by taking us out on a day trip to hunt for lobster, barracuda, and flounder. The bay was a vast plain of blue-green water with no buoy in sight, yet Carmelo was able to pinpoint his lobster traps by memory alone.
Hundreds of these traps dot the area as it is home to the Punta Allen Lobster Fishery, a cooperative built to ensure the interests of the local fishers, while maintaining economic sustainability for their high-priced commodity. The fishermen sell their catch directly to the union, who then export the lobster to restaurants around the world. By follow a strict set of internal rules such as releasing undersized lobster, the fishermen ensure survival for both themselves and the community.
Today, outside factors such as global warming and tourism threaten the cooperative, something Carmelo is well aware of despite lacking formal education. Carmelo’s observance of uncharacteristic weather coupled with bloating lobster reveal the crude symptoms of water contamination and acid rain fall. With remote fishing towns like Punta Allen experiencing declines year after year, it is only matter of time before the ecosystems in Tulum and Playa del Carman break for good. Environmental restoration begins with people like Carmelo who align their self-interest with the collective interest. Building a tradition of respect for the law, both internally and federally has always been, and will be the hardest challenge in Mexico.
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 15th, 2011 at 11:42 am
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.