On November 15, Slow Food officially launched the Banco Chinchorro and Sian Ka’an Spiny lobster Presidium, as part of the Slow Fish Caribbean project*. The launch took place during the Participatory Monitoring Workshop and Slow Food Methodology Workshop, in the Auditorium of the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas CONANP in Tulum (Quintana Roo).
The Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) is one of the most important resources in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System and is a major source of income for the fishers of the 6 cooperatives that created the Chakay (lobster, in the Mayan language) collective brand. Selling live lobsters, with a traceability system and a collective brand, recognizes the added value of a sustainable and fair product with an identifiable origin, benefitting the fishing communities and the ecosystem of the Biosphere Reserves where they fish.
The cooperatives have adopted sustainable and selective fishing techniques and this has contributed to the preservation of this species and the health of the sea. The fishers have abandoned fishing with hooks and nets, and returned to using snares and hoop nets, thus allowing egg-bearing females and young animals to go free. This is in addition to community-based management of fishing grounds whereby the ocean floor is divided into plots in which artificial shelters known as casitas are constructed, which increase the survival of the lobsters. In addition, fishing by free diving naturally protects against removing lobsters from deeper waters, where the reproductive lobsters can be found.
This traditional fishing model, supported by a system of biological monitoring with the participation of the communities, has had a proven direct positive impact on the lobster population, which remain large and healthy in both reserves, unlike in other areas in the same state and in the Caribbean, where this species is increasingly scarce.
As Kim Ley Cooper, director of Colectividad Razonatura, puts it: “Registering the Presidium represents further important recognition of the great work these fishers have done over many years. We greatly admire the cooperatives Vigía Chico, Cozumel, José María Azcorra, Langosteros del Caribe, Andrés Quintana Roo and Pescadores de Banco Chinchorro. The creation of this presidium is an opportunity to endorse the commitment to cooperation between communities, management institutions, academia and civil society, which has supported sustainable lobster fishing in these protected marine areas, and it is a chance for this successful model to spread to other regions, from Mexico and the Caribbean. We will continue supporting and assisting in these processes, making our technical and scientific capabilities available, and we are deeply grateful to the fishers for letting us be part of this experience”.
*“Slow Fish Caribbean: consolidating models of conservation and sustainable consumption in Caribbean biosphere reserves related to Slow Food” is a project supported by the European Union’s “EU Biodiversity for Life” initiative and implemented by the partnership between Colectividad Razonatura (Mexico), Slow Food (Italy), Fundación ACUA and Corporación Coralina (Colombia). The objective of the project is the protection of marine biodiversity of the Caribbean and the development of models for the sustainable use of food resources in protected areas.