- Title: An island without fish? Cuba aims to tackle fall in fish numbers
- Date: 27th August 2019
- Summary: HAVANA, CUBA (RECENT) (REUTERS) FISHERMAN CASTING RODS ON ICONIC SEASIDE AVENUE, THE MALECON CAUGHT FISH FISHERMEN ON SEA WALL BOATS ON OCEAN PEOPLE CASTING RODS (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CUBAN FISHERMAN, CALEB ALFONSO, SAYING: "It's gone down greatly (the availability of fish). Climate change, the illegal nets, the smaller net casters, divers: so there's very little fish." FISHERMEN ON BOAT CAST NET BOATS ON OCEAN WITH HAVANA BUILDINGS IN BACKGROUND SMALL BOAT ARRIVING AT DOCK FISHERMEN PULL MARLIN FROM BOAT (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CUBAN FISHERMAN, GEORIS LOPEZ, SAYING: "In recent years here we're seeing a 70 to 55% reduction in the catch. There are even years - I'm speaking in general terms. Why? Because there are years where there has been a larger catch, but I'm speaking in general. When you add up the last few years you get that percentage." FISHERMEN AND BOATS VARIOUS, FISHERMAN CUTTING MARLIN (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CUBAN FISHERMAN, HUMBERTO MONTERO, SAYING: "Yes, it was much better, it was better years ago. From a few years ago to now, this type of fish has really decreased." CUSTOMERS OUTSIDE FISH MARKET SIGN ON EXTERIOR OF FISH MARKET CUSTOMERS AND EMPLOYEES IN MARKET FISH IN BOX CUSTOMER BUYING FISH (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LOCAL RESIDENT, LEIDYS MARIAN FALLAD, SAYING: "We've always liked fish, but we've been limited. But, Cubans obviously like fish, you see? Now, I suppose with the new law we Cubans will benefit a little knowing what fish is, because we're an island full of water and we've never been able to eat fish." BOATS NEAR DOCK VARIOUS, FISHERMEN SPEAKING TO EACH OTHER (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CUBAN FISHERMAN, GEORIS LOPEZ, SAYING: "The majority of our boats are wooden, they're small boats, you understand? Our motors have been used for 40-years at a minimum. The majority of us are our own mechanics. To find a part - my motor is from Czechoslovakia, not the Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia. That no longer exists. I have to invent things each time I go to change a part. That's my specific case, and it's the same for everyone. We have land motors inside marine cases." BOATS ON ESTUARY VARIOUS, FISHERMEN AND BOATS NEAR DOCKS (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CUBAN LAWYER, ELOY VIERA, SAYING: "Small-scale fishing is basically and exclusively maintained with boats that are mostly from the decade of the (19)50s, because our legislation doesn't allow for the purchase of new boats, (so) very old boats are maintained. And this sustains a consumption at an annual rate for Cubans of close to four kilograms (8.8 lb.) from the 16 (35.3 lb.) that were consumed in the (19)90s. And, the catch has been reduced, too, close to 30,000 tons currently (down) from the 200,000 (tons) that were consumed or captured in the decade of the (19)80s." FISHERMEN IN BOAT VIEIRA LOOKING AT BOATS FROM BRIDGE FISHERMAN CASTS NET (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CUBAN LAWYER, ELOY VIERA, SAYING: "Recognition from the state was hoped for with regards to responsibility for the effect on marine life due to the mass exploitation that the very Cuban state had encouraged. And, (it was hoped) that recognition would translate to strategies to recover the marine life beyond (just) halting fishing. Because, what the new legislation is hoping to achieve from my point of view is to stop or decrease as much as possible sea fishing and bring them down as much as possible to attend to the effect that this is having on marine life." FISHERMEN ON BOAT AT SEA FISHERMAN CASTS NET FROM SEA WALL FISHERMEN ON SEA WALL FISHERMEN ON BOAT
- Embargoed: 10th September 2019 14:53
- Keywords: island fish law natural resources depletion fishing industry Cuba regulation catch communist
- Location: HAVANA, CUBA
- City: HAVANA, CUBA
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Environment,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA001ATZUS03
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Small scale fishermen casting rods from Havana's iconic sea wall as well as those sailing small boats on the Caribbean Sea say they are struggling to catch fish.
Cuba's fish stocks have dropped drastically in recent decades due to overfishing and environmental factors, scientists say, prompting the country last month to pass a law imposing new regulations on the fishing industry.
Cuba estimates the population of the 54 species it fishes commercially, such as grouper and snapper, has declined 44 percent in the last five years with catches falling 70 percent over that period.
The decline has been a blow to the fishing industry, which already suffered the dismantling of its long-range state fishing fleet because it could not maintain it in the wake of the collapse of Cuba's former benefactor the Soviet Union.
The expansion of fish farming has been unable to make up for the shortfall worsened by a decline in imports in the cash-strapped country. Much of what seafood Cuba does produce, including lobster and shrimp, is exported to generate much-needed hard currency.
And while the country began allowing private fishermen to sell their produce a decade ago, albeit only to the state, red tape poses serious barriers to their productivity.
Cubans eat a quarter of the seafood they did at the end of the 1980s, according to official data, and just a fraction of the global average fish consumption per capita, leading them to joke bitterly about being an island without fish.
The new fishing policy aims to at least recover domestic stocks by curbing illegal fishing and implementing science-based fisheries management using catch quotas and zoning.
(Production: Anett Rios, Nelson Gonzalez)
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