Sunday, May 6, 2018

Totoaba Bladders: The Cocaine of the Sea of Cortez

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: El Sol de Tijuana


      The PEP seized approximately 229 pieces of the marine species in a neighborhood of Mexicali;
                     a highly prized and expensive product in SouthEast Asia and particularly China.

May 5, 2018
By: Laura Elena Aguayo / Juan Galván and Dulce Maria Diaz / The Voice of the Border

Based on a investigation carried out by elements of the State Preventive Police (PEP) in Mexicali, the confiscation of approximately 100 kilos of totoaba bladders in the Misión del Ángel division was achieved and this number represents an historic seizure. One Kilo of dried Totoaba Bladder is worth $60,000 - $100,000 USD in China, therefore a tempting product to harvest and traffic to penniless fisherman and organized criminals alike.

Last Friday night, agents of the PEP, while carrying out an investigation and surveillance operation by  the aforementioned division, observed a green Mazda Protege vehicle circulating along General Santiago Vidaurri Street and Del Ángel Road ,  Mexicali BC, in a suspicious manner, which they approached and stopped for investigation.

When interviewing the driver, who identified himself as Francisco Eduardo "N", 25 years old, he was nervous, so they proceeded to carry out an inspection both on his person and inside the vehicle.
Therefore, the vehicle, the 25 year old man and the totoaba bladders were secured and placed before the disposition of the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) who will be responsible for determining the legal situation.
In the revision, nothing illegal was found on his person, but when investigating inside the car they checked a cooler in the passenger seat, when the police opened it they found 29 bladders of totoaba fish,  in the back seat another cooler with 100 more bladders and in the trunk another 100, which gives a total of 229 and which yielded an approximate 100 kilos of totoaba bladders.
           

         Illegal Poaching of Totoaba and other over fishing and illegal fishing tecniques affect not only              the nearly extinct and endemic Vaquita porpoise , but sea lions, shark species and sea turtles.

Operation Miracle 1V VS. Illegal Fishing

For years, the marine protection organization Sea Shepherd has worked in defense of the near extinct Vaquita and the endangered Totoaba fish in the Sea of ​​Cortez, managing to implement four protection and surveillance campaigns in the designated polygon in the Upper Gulf of California area, in part with the help of Mexican federal authorities.


The unique endemic Vaquita Porpoise enmeshed in an illegal gil net in the Upper reaches of The Sea

To date, Operation Miracle IV is underway, in which Mexican authorities are working, while the John Paul Dejoria and Farley Mowat vessels patrol and protect the refuge of the Vaquita Porpoise.

To date, Sea Shepherd has removed 748 pieces of illegal fishing gear from the Sea of ​​Cortez since it began its effort to protect the vaquita in 2015, saving 2,926 marine animals in the process. However,  during this period more vaquita have been taken from the Sea.


                       Volunteers Locate Totoaba Fish Entangled in Illegal Gil Nets Near San Felipe
                     
Since 1975 the Totoaba has been protected in Mexico when it was included in the list of endangered species due to the mad pursuit of its swim bladder; but due to the resurgence of the black market demand of these bladders in Asia "The totoaba fishery has accelerated the decline of the vaquita from 7.5% per year to 18.5% per year".

It should be noted that during Operation Miracle III, Sea Shepherd withdrew 233 illegal fishing gear, 1,195 entangled dead animals - including sharks, dolphins, whales, turtles and sea lions - and released 795 live marine mammals. Five dead vaquitas were discovered and their deaths attributed to being trapped in gill nets illegally set by poachers. (pescaderos furvitos)

Official data:

Official reports of the National Fisheries Commission ( Comision Nacional de Pesca) indicate that with support from the Whale Museum extracted lot of "ghost nets " in the Polygon Vaquita Protection Area.

This concerns the extraction of 175 "ghost nets",  62 from January15 to March 3,2018; 54 gil nets specifically sized for Totoaba, 6 shrimping nets , one for Sierra Mackeral and other nets common for multi use.

Expand Polygon:

In response to the recommendations of the International Committee for the Conservation of the Vaquita, the Protected Polygon of the Vaquita Marina was extended to 1,841 square kilometers, that is, it grew 46% or 577.16 square kilometers, as published in the Official Redord of the Federation.

Monitor Totoaba Fishermen (Totoaberos):

More than 200 people have been placed at the disposal of the Federal Public Ministry and of those 20 are subject to process for the illegal fishing of totoaba, since the presence of the Secretariat of the Navy in the Sea of ​​Cortez area was reinforced.

Admiral Jorge Luis Ballado Ballado, commander of the Second Naval Region, last February reported that as the polygon expanded, surveillance has increased and there is more technology such as drones and special cameras with an infrared system to operate 24 hours a day. 

He added that an independent Marine Corps special group was created in the San Felipe area to intensify foot-to-land surveillance, since the fishing season is from March to May and that is when the fishermen  arrive to fish in the prohibited fishing areas.

Unofficial sources of the Federal Police report that the traffickers of "buches" or Totoaba Bladders have changed their way of operating.

The  traditional trafficking route was through Mexicali and Tijuana, the "merchandise" crossed into the United States and then to China, but now it is being shipped out via Sonora airports,  Ciudad Obregon or Hermosillo and then on to Mexico City where they board flights to South Korea and then finally move to Beijing and Hong Kong.

It should be added that this conservation effort has divided the fishing community in the northern "Sea" , both on the Baja California side and also in the fishing communities on the eastern side of Sonora but especially in San Felipe, BC.

There have been frequent and often volatile protests: Pro: protection for the vaquita and Anti: all the latest fishing regulations and restrictions; migrating as far as Mexicali and fishing villages south of San Felipe which have been largely abandoned and destroyed/looted and look like " Ghost " fishing villages themselves.

Several notorious "criminal elements" have been arrested on a variety of charges, some stick and some do not, depending on the person and their connections and /or resources.


One outstanding case is that of "Sunshine" Rodriguez Pena, a supposed advocate for the Fishermen and opponent of the conservation restrictions, although he has been arrested and called everything from a "Political Prisoner" to a top regional Narco boss.

"Sunshine" was arrested both for outstanding charges in BC and with drugs (meth), along with his wife in BCS and moved to Mexico City on one occasion to related face charges.

Recently two men from China were arrested with more than 800 totoaba bladders/ "buches" already dried and packed. Both embarked on their journey's goal in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora.

"Sunshine" Rodriguez Pena : Demanding a Renunciation of the Conservation Zone dedicated to the preservation of the last remaining 30 endemic Vaquita Porpoises in " The Sea" on behalf of local fishermen and Organized Crime with EPN and Francisco "Kiko" Vega, Governor of Baja California.


Yaqui Note: I personally abhor the use of the name "The Sea of Cortez" and refer to The Sea as "El Golfo de California " or my favorite: The Vermillion Sea.

32 comments:

  1. $100,000 a K?Wow and this young man was caught with 100 K?$10 million?Wow that guy is in big trouble and I don't mean because he got caught and will go to prison!

    ReplyDelete
  2. El presidentie's fishing buddy lol
    On a lighter note; Thank the godds for people like Paul Watson and his crew s.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautiful report B.B..
    A sad situation pertaining those endangered species worldwide. Many documentaries have been aired to inform and aware public of this horrific trafficking of such. Frontline, Nova and 60 minutes along with environmental activists show the depth of such travesty.
    However; we must also note that over fishing by big companies are depleting fish numbers so drastically worldwide. It’s estimated that by the year 2050 fish populations will be extinct. Illegal and over- fishing has become a global concern for many. With consumptions at an all time high for its healthy nutrition. Fish consumption will soon be a high price commodity.

    Again beautiful report B.B.
    E42

    ReplyDelete
  4. sunshine rodriguez pena, supposed advocate for the fishermen needs to be held in prison until the totoaba population recovers from the brink of extinction, then he gets released in the middle of a shark school, pa que se le quite lo caliente si no se lo quitaron en el bote...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Beautiful report B.B.
    Trying this again. For some odd reason having issues with phone. Please omit if previous comment went through.
    The endangerment of fish species in our oceans have been recognized by environmental protection agencies. It is estimated that by the year 2050 fish in our oceans will be extinct. This in part to over- fishing and lack of regulations of governments.
    Poachers of this species for their bladder and like many generate fortunes. What’s puzzling is how certain cultures and countries actually believe in their spiritual wellness properties.
    Frontline, 60 minutes and Nova have aired documentaries pertaining this wildlife endangerment which is increasingly troubling worldwide.
    Again beautiful report B.B.
    E42

    ReplyDelete
  6. Locals would argue that the mexican goverment has used this so called "polygon of protection" to take away fishing areas away from local fishermen and sell the rights to international fishing companies, hence the volatile opposition. Fishing is the lively hood for families in areas like San Felipe, Golfo de Santa Clara, and Puerto Peñasco. So who do I believe, the lying rats in the government, or the locals who are suffering from the government's practices. The same goes on in small rural areas of Mexicali where the government is taking away their water resource and selling the land to Constellation Brands. They arrested and charged with murder an activist from the group "Mexicali Resiste". This group led the protests against Constellation Brands. Now he is being held on murder charges. Just the way Mexico silences activists, kill them or imprison them, while selling off the resources to the highest bidder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This same policy / agreements are evident throughout the world. South Africa fishing industry has devastated local fishing communities whose livelihood depends on such for survival. China is the biggest of all nations who exploit such oceans for profits

      E42.

      Delete
  7. The Chinese are the biggest threat to marine sea life. Something needs to be done !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Complaints to Chinese government will be dismissed. China has a well known record of not addressing any environmental concerns in past. Furthermore, inept when it comes to their position of a power house in global market.
      Added with the billions of loans America is in debt to. Sneaky and scrupulous bastards!

      E42

      Delete
  8. Good article, however it would of been better if you would of added why Tatoaba is so expensive or what it’s used for..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. used in china like an herb, treating circulatory and skin problems and as an aphrodisiac

      Delete
    2. yes , you are right. However , I lost a LOT of data I had saved up for this do to a computer crash, included some of my own photos etc.
      I work a lot ( not for dinero ) with conservation organizations for not only El Golfo but Las Sierras and coastline overdevelopment where there is zero resources.

      Delete
    3. 5:40 y por Dinero cuanto, Yaqui?

      Delete
  9. Yo BB any info on Alfredo el lobo Hoyodan after his release from Mexico prison?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. El pinchi Lobo salió, pero perrita.

      Delete
  10. Chinese medicine is a joke and creates such waste of wildlife. How come these morons can’t be convinced tiger claw, rhino horn, fish bladder, etc... are just common substances, as the horn and claws are the same exact material as our hair and nails. It’s ridiculous, but don’t expect the communists to crackdown, they are more worried about the people realizing communism hasn’t worked, and that China’s growth is only because they have gone away from commie to a more free market economy. Just time for them to realize the rest of Mao’s bullshit I’m his little red hate book.
    Finesse in Texass

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well spoken about the yellow danger from asia nut they will Take Over the world in a few years. Which will be then a tough time.

      Delete
    2. Same thing with bear bladders too.They leave the whole carcass of a Grisly Bear in the woods for a tiny bladder to be shipped to China.I hope they at least eat the fish like they should the bear or what a complete waste.

      Delete
  11. Dam, we are just raping our planet. If we don't do nothing, our grandchildren will be left with nothing. Governments around the world need to all sit down together and think of something and really impose the rule. We are worrying more about who has better and bigger weapons when the biggest threat is global warming, and us using up all of our natural resources. There is no profit in destroying our planet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 4:18 good luck making the animals in power understand...

      Delete
    2. Governments are around the world?
      Think it’s appropriate to say American policies as well. The head of America’s EPA ( Scott Pruit ) has 11 investigations underway. Ethical behavior / practices with energy lobbyists. From gratuities from housing arrangements, monetary gains.
      So to solely imply / implicate Mexico would be unjust and unfair.

      E42

      Delete
    3. Yeah I did mean all gvt's, for us to fix or even try to steer the right way, these money hungry politicians need to realize we only have one planet. And once we to deep, there will be no getting us out of the hole we digging our selves in. I just feel sorry for our future generations.

      Delete
  12. I bet the same chinamen that's trafficking this is also selling them something from china

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you yayui. God to Read some different Story.
    Keep on

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 10:00 Sayonara Whatsumara.
      I love you too, YAQUI.

      Delete
  14. Lo Que Deberías Saber De Pure Cambogia Ultra.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Yeah, ancient Chinese medicine is ridiculous.

    I guess you cant really rationalize with a society that likes to eat eggs boiled in human urine all day.

    Phelpso

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 11:01 don't boil'em, just marinade and save the processed agents antibodies that have already been battle scarred from fighting infection and disease...
      Why do you think Chinese and Japanese live to be almost 100 years of age? And most of it disease free, some even survived atomic bomb attacks and are still alive from Hiroshima And Nagasaki, then there is Pancho villa's driver in mexico, still alive and giving interviews for youtube, but that's was all that grifa medicinal

      Delete
  16. i need this here I have health issues. but damn They are almost extinct that's crazy Anyone try to farm them in harvest them is that legal

    ReplyDelete
  17. Friend caught one and thinking it was a White Sea Bass prepared it for his environmentalidt friends wedding at our beach...I didn't have the heart to tell him...

    ReplyDelete

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