No-one Knows What Fish They are Buying / Ernesto Garcia Diaz
Posted on February 27, 2014
Havana, Cuba – At la Playa de El Chivo (El Chivo beach ), on the
northeast coast of Havana, at the foot of the Castillo de los Tres Reyes
del Morro (Three Kings Castle), people carry on fishing for sport and
business, between the marine waters and sewage, without the health
authorities, environmental authorities or the coastguards taking a
responsible attitude. The zone receives thousands of cubic metres of
polluted water and its sand dunes are deteriorating as a result of the
The grunt, snapper and barber fish, among others, turn the rocky beach
into both a centre for boats which arrive every day to seek their
economic support; and at best, some people who are enjoying their
leisure and are fishing for sport.
This is going on in the mouth of the submerged sewage outlet pipe which
runs from the Havana sewage treatment plant, which filters the solid
waste coming from the northern and southern collectors of the capital. A
concrete pipe of about 375 metres in length crosses Havana Bay, as far
as Casablanca, where they pump the dirty water up to La Cabaña, so that
it then falls by gravity down to the El Chivo beach, about 150 metres
along the coast.
The most astonishing thing is that many fishermen enter into the area of
the lower reefs, without any protection, on the edge of where they are
fishing in a contaminated area, breathing in the fetid smell from the
drain, which keeps the coastal water cloudy with its permanent discharge
from the Havana sewers, whose pipes and canals are not lacking in cracks
When it comes to the end result of the activity, various fisherment
indicate that they eat the fish themselves, and that they also sell
some, but they don't say where the fish come from.
These citizens, impelled by their desperate need to support themselves
and their families, imperil the health of people who are unaware that
they are buying a product of uncertain or unknown origin, as many are
offered as skinned fillets, or say that they are deep sea fish, which
prevents the consumer seeing the physiognomy of the species, so they can
at least identify them, in order to avoid the "ciguatera" (tropical
fishfood poisoning syndrome ) which is transmitted by the picúa or the
aguají, among other species which it is forbidden to fish.
Additionally, on this beach's rocky and sandy coast, the environment is
being damaged by the dumping of plastic handles, fish-hooks, fishing
lines, and other discarded items, which are thrown away by people living
there or those passing through the area who don't take any notice of the
Alberto, an ex-fisherman, known as "The Wizard", admitted that he used
to sell fish for a while, but that it was very hard work, always running
the risk of a consumer falling ill, because the species caught in this
area end up eating the discarded rubbish in the sewage, or a shoal of
sardines who have also come over to eat toxic residues.
El Chivo Beach, by the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, classified
by UNESCO in 1982 as a World Heritage site, has been converted into a
contaminated focal point of bacteria and micro-organisms which can
affect the health of those who fish in its waters, pass through there,
or consume its fish.
The authorities would be perfectly able to preserve the cleanliness and
health of the ecosystem of this sandy coastline, which has been abused
and is hardly a good example of sustainable development of a zone of
natural, historical and cultural value which should be cared for.
Cubanet, 22 January 2014, Ernesto García Díaz
Translated by GH
Source: No-one Knows What Fish They are Buying / Ernesto Garcia Diaz |
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