Sea Cucumber Battles

Beryl Gorbman
The Yucatan Yenta

Progreso fishing boats

One of my favorite towns, Sisal, which I’ve written about here several times, is locked in battle with Progreso fishermen over rights to fish for sea cucumbers (pepino del mar). In this rivalry, Sisal is joined by Celestun.
Sea cucumbers are a fairly new cash crop for Gulf fishermen and the government agency that controls licenses to fish for specific animals has handed out limited licenses to fishermen’s coops in Sisal. However, fishermen from Progreso, who are also fishing in Chicxulub, have invaded the territory, according to various government agencies.
On Friday, Progreso fishermen captured two boats and six men from Sisal, accusing them of fishing in their waters, and forcibly took them to Chicxulub. Apparently the boats were fishing for lobster, not sea cucumber. Tempers are getting heated.

Sisal pier

The rivalry is so great for this incredibly disgusting, slime covered sea animal, that at this point the Mexican navy is concerned that the fishermen are arming themselves (which probably means they are). Firearms are prohibited on the high seas. Fishermen are afraid to go out to sea, according to fisherman Carlos Choch Puc of Sisal.

Sea Cucumber

Photo from the web.

Sea cucumbers are dried and packaged for export to Asia (specifically Korea) where they command high prices. A Korean family started fishing for sea cucumbers in Sisal about five years ago, and thus the craze began.
Coastal fishermen of Yucatan are dirt poor. The amount they make from fishing for these creatures is an embarassingly tiny fraction of the sales value. See Yucatan Yenta’s other articles about Sisal for details.

About BG

Beryl Gorbman is a writer and private investigator who divides her time between Seattle WA and Merida Yucatan Mexico. She has published two works of fiction, 2012: Deadly Awakening, and Madrugada. They are both available on Amazon and other outlets. Also at Amate Books, and Casa Catherwood in Merida. You can read about them in various articles on this site.
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2 Responses to Sea Cucumber Battles

  1. suk banks says:

    BG, so Korean family is living there or those Korean are part of slaves family. Anyway sea cucumber, china are more crazy about it specally dried one. Korean people, we like eat like sashimi. That was so cheap not now, we had in the street cart, ask young hee, she knows it. Dry one, most chinese style cooking, soak dry one for long time & turn to gelatin taste but no taste after follow peking style stir fry spicy. Acutully Chinese crazy about it & we imported lot from china but if sisal one quality better than Korean will buy. Did y try? Lets we all go sisal have Korean style sea cucumber sashimi & I will bring Korean sauce & soju (Korean have to drink soju, like a vodka or rice wine, Korean national drink so we will do that) what about seaulchan ? Y know what it is. I love it. Yam

  2. suk banks says:

    I know how to clean & do sashimi bc my mom, my grandma spoiled me when I grew up I ate lot those bc it was very inexpensive at that time & mom tought me how to clean & slice very thin. We got to eat when still alive. Also mom used cook puff fish for our family. Mom should be a surgeon, she knows all the anatomy about puff fish so we had very very good puff fish soup, that was my dad favorit. Also sashi too. Walter & I went to visit 3 yrs ago visit her , yes she got sea cucumber sashimi ready for me. Walter tried but hard for him to look at it. I ate all.

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