HomeNewsBriefIllegal Fishing Threatens Food Security in Bolívar, Colombia
BRIEF

Illegal Fishing Threatens Food Security in Bolívar, Colombia

COLOMBIA / 11 NOV 2019 BY LARA LOAIZA EN

Destruction of wildlife spurred by illegal fishing in the Ciénaga de Simití swampland in the northern Colombia department of Bolívar has sparked a full-blown environmental crisis in a local village.

Since August, the ecological group Pescado Sueños (Fishing Dreams) has denounced the killing of caimans and other species of alligators due to illegal fishing practices along the Simití river as it crosses the municipality of Simití.

According to the organization, the use of trammel nets has caused all types of marine life to be caught, even those not of interest to fishermen. They die within hours of being trapped or are killed with harpoons.

SEE ALSO: Colombia News and Profile

In other parts of Colombia, the use of such nets has endangered local ecosystems. In Orinoquía, a region which forms part of the Orinoco River's watershed, the famous pink river dolphins have also been victims of illegal fishing. While these dolphins are usually caught accidentally, they have also been directly targeted for their meat to be used as fish bait or for their oil, which can fetch a high price on the black market.

InSight Crime Analysis

The increase of illegal fishing in the Ciénaga de Simití not only threatens the local ecosystem and native species, but also puts at risk the local population, who depend on a sustainable harvest of the area's marine resources to live.

The difference lies in the use of the trammel nets, which are made up of three layers of netting. These are commonly used to reach species of fish living deeper than normal nets can go. In 2013 authorities began making arrests over the use of trammel nets; however their use only appears to have increased. In early 2019, InSight Crime visited the municipality of Simití and documented a spike in illegal fishing.

A major driver of the rise in illegal fishing is that its profits dwarf those of legal fishing in the area. Local residents told InSight Crime that fishermen operating legally in Simití can bring in hauls worth between 15,000 to 20,000 pesos ($4.50 to $6) a day, while those using the illegal trammel nets can earn between 200,000 to 500,000 pesos ($60 to $150).

Environmental officials in the area confirmed to InSight Crime that they had seized trammel nets of up to 25 meters in length.

SEE ALSO: Colombia Fails to Tackle Illegal Fishing in Malpelo Reserve

Trammel nets drag beneath boats at greater depths, dredging up smaller fish, as well as alligators, birds or even manatees that inhabit the swampland.

Smaller, younger fish are caught by trammel nets, preventing them from growing and reproducing.

Indiscriminate fishing in the Ciénaga de Simití also puts at risk the food security of the local population, whose diet is heavily dependent on fish from the river. A local official told InSight Crime that there is real concern locally about fish running out in the next few years.

While Simití does have an official fisheries inspector, illegal fishing has proven difficult to stamp out. The boats go out to set their trammel nights at night, making it more difficult for patrols to detect them.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COCAINE / 13 APR 2022

The arrest of yet another alleged Sinaloa Cartel emissary in Colombia has once again raised questions about the extent of…

COLOMBIA / 25 FEB 2022

A veteran FARC dissident commander was killed in a Colombian military assault, leaving a power vacuum in the volatile Colombia-Venezuela…

CHINA AND CRIME / 14 MAY 2021

When hundreds of skinned donkeys appeared on Colombia’s northern coast without explanation, locals, and later authorities, started asking questions.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…