COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN USING GILL NETS AT LOS CABOS
June 17, 2005, Bob Grimes Los Cabos, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico, Commercial Fishing Violations Report.
Gill nets are illegal, in the absence of a current permit, specifically authorizing that they be used for the species targeted, for a specific period, in a specific area. Every Mexican panguero that I have ever spoken with has told me this, and I don't think that any officials from Conapesca, Profepa, La Armada Mexicana, La Capitania del Puerto, or anyone else, is going to deny that.
The illegal gill netters know that they are violating the law, and that is why they often set their nets in remote places, or when operating in places where there is a chance of enforcement, they often set them at night and bring them in before sunrise.
The problem, of course, is in enforcement. Many Mexican capitanes of the sportfishing industry are very frustrated with the corruption and laziness on the part of the officials that are supposed to enforce the gill net laws, as they can see that the gill nets are destroying the remaining fish along the Mexican coasts that are supposedly reserved for sportfishing, and damaging the livelihood of the Mexican families involved in sportfishing, as well as the hotel and restaurant and other tourist industries.
However, there are also some pangueros who are involved in sportfishing, lobster fishing, abalone fishing, hand lining, or whale watching that set out illegal gill nets when their legitimate business is slow.
The same thing is true with the tuna seiners that come in at night to places like the Gordo Banks and wrap schools of tuna, as well as the wahoo and billfish and everything else, and the longliners and drift gill netters that go into these areas, and the camaroneros, or shrimp boats, that drag their nets close to shore.
The Mexican sportfishing captains tell me these operations are clearly in violation of Mexican law, but they pay off authorities, and when they get caught by authorities that they haven't paid, the fines that are assessed are minimal in contrast to the money they make from their illegal catch.
I believe that it is worth the trouble documenting illegal fishing activities and bringing it to the attention of the officials. Evidence such as photos and vessel names and registration numbers are helpful, and it is a good idea to bring any violation to the attention of multiple governmental agencies, as well as the press. In recent years, the Mexican press has made great progress in independence and conscientious journalism.
The key to any enforcement of the laws is that it is not just a few gringos that are interested in this issue. The preservation of a small percentage of sportfishing species that have survived the illegal depredation of commercial fishing interests is vital to the well being of many thousands, perhaps millions, of Mexicans who depend directly or indirectly on the sportfishing industry.
(See "Mexico Fishing News" online for current fishing reports, photos, weather, and water temperatures from San Jose del Cabo and other major Mexican sportfishing areas. Vacation travel articles, fishing maps and seasonal calendars, and fishing related information for San Jose del Cabo may be found at Mexfish.com's main San Jose del Cabo page.