After two years of banning industrial trawling, small-scale fishermen from different coastal states have reported a significant increase of production and also confirmed the appearance of endangered species in the area.
Several species are now easily found near the coasts of the states of Sucre, Miranda and Falcón, and it is not necessary to go out to sea.
Article 23 of the Law on Fishing and Aquaculture, published in the Official Gazette on March 14th 2009, prohibits trawling in order to preserve hydro-biological resources of Venezuela and to vindicate the work of fishermen.
Willma Espinoza, a spokesman of the National Front of Fishermen, Fisherwomen and Aquafarmers of the Sucre state (east), explained that trawling ravaged the seabed with its nets, catching fish, alevins, coral reefs, seaweed and all the necessary ecosystem for the development of different marine species.
“Trawling was a murder method because it killed everything in the seabed. Thanks to the ban, we can see different fish species again in Venezuelan coasts.” Espinoza said.
Regulo Peña, another spokesman of a fishermen association, said that the trawling ban was highly beneficial for small-scale fishermen.
“There is a big difference compared to previous years. We completely agree with this decision of the State. This gives direct benefits to all fishermen. We have seen the change. We now have a very productive fishing.” Peña pointed out.
“Those big ships harmed the seabed, broke the reefs and left no place for the fish to reproduce. Although the process to revert all the damage caused is slow, two years later we can now say that fishermen can now feel the positive changes of this measure.” Said Pedro Francisco Richi, a fisherman of the Cuchivano community in Higuerote (east of Caracas.
After the trawling ban, some opposition sectors and private media have started a smeary campaign about an alleged shortage of sea species after this measure came into force.
This affirmation was denied by Abdía González, a fisherman with 40 years of experience in Falcón state (west). He warned that this campaign seeks to discredit the governments measures to cause anxiety and unease in the population.
“Its completely false that there is decrease of production or fish shortage due to the ban.” Said González.
He also stated that the irrational increase of the fish prices is due to intermediaries in the chai such as owners of trucks, distributors , wholesalers and retailers.
“The small-scale fisher sells the fish to the truck owners at a low price and then each of the intermediaries increase the price. In the end, fisherme can barely make small profit and consumers pay high prices for one kilogram of fish.” González added.
Trawling ban in territorial waters and the Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) in Venezuela not only protected the ecosystem, but also vindicated the work of people in this activity.
The Ministry of Peoples Power for Agriculture and Lands, through Socialist Institute of Fishing and Aquaculture (INSOPESCA Spanish acronym), conducted a census in the states with fishing activity to determine the amount of people affected by the measure.
The study showed that in the Anzoátegui state (east) 238 people were registered; 21 in Carabobo (central Venezuela), 1,461 in Falcón and 1,541 in Sucre for a total of 3,261 fishermen.
In this regard, the Venezuelan State has allocated $7,5 million USD to promote 1703 projects of feeding, agriculture, trade, construction and services which improved the quality of life of these people.
Additionally, some of the trawlers crew is now working in the new company “Empresa Mixta Socialista Pesquera Industrial del ALBA”. The company has eight fishing ships and worker receive all the benefits stipulated on the Organic Law on Work, aside from productivity bonuses and food grants, among others.