Fishing, a high-risk activityPublished: Jun 30, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
One of the oldest trades in the world, and paradoxically, one that is persecuted today, is fishing. Despite Cuba being an island and being located in the Caribbean - an area that has fished for centuries - Cubans have lacked this food for decades. Only those with special diets, receiving one kilogram per month, can have them.
For years, Cubans have developed different ways to alleviate the crisis, which has produced different effects that has impacted the life of several generations on the island. The low earnings and poor emotional well-being caused as a result of state jobs has led to many constantly circumventing repressive laws imposed by the government that aim to control their lives. In an effort to avoid laws that dictate what they should eat and how to dress their families, those found guilty risk getting fines or jail time.
One of the oldest trades in the world, and paradoxically, one that is persecuted today, is fishing. Despite Cuba being an island and being located in the Caribbean - an area that has fished for centuries - Cubans have lacked this food for decades. Only those with special diets, receiving one kilogram per month, can have them. According to residents of Bahía Honda, in the province of Artemisa, it is very difficult for those who work as fisherman to be able to go freely in a boat out to sea and reap the benefits of their catch to their homes or sell it commercially.
According to some of these fishermen, there are many obstacles in the way to obtain a fishing permit because the governing bodies that grant these permits only grant a small amount. If you are able to obtain a permit, there are strict rules that you must abide by, such as only being able to fish on the weekends, not being allowed to catch lobster, loro, and conch, among other species. They are only allowed to catch up to fifteen kilograms of fish, and are not allowed to use nets. If you are found guilty of violating these rules, the first penalty is a fine of 10,000 pesos. Repeat offenders are tried before the courts.
For all of these reasons and allegations, according to their conscience, that the sea belongs to us all, there are many who are exposed when they go out “on their own.” As they say, they are left to their own devices. “We went out on [simple] rafts, hunting the police; we take risks, but hopefully we can fish and come out unscathed,” remarks a poacher. There are so many restrictions that this profession is about to disappear because there are not enough people wiling to take risks and satisfy the requirements demanded by the authorities.
During these times of food crisis and Covid-19, the solution could be fishing and healthy food on the table, but it is a risk that not many are willing to take. It is an issue that authorities do not seem to want to resolve.