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Profepa steps up surveillance after seizing 3.5 tons of illegally fished pink snail in 2020

Costa Maya, Q.R. — Profepa says that between May and August of 2020, more than 3.5 tons of pink snail illegally fished for, was seized. The agency reports that during 2020, the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) detected an increase in the illegal capture and sale of queen conch in the Mexican Caribbean, mainly in the areas of Banco Chinchorro, Cozumel and Isla Mujeres.

Profepa (Procuraduria Federal de Proteccion al Ambiente) also says that their 3.5 tons of seizures last year was an increase of 15 percent compare to the year before. The federal agency says that the meat was seized from fishermen found in violation of the ban imposed since the snail is considered an endangered species.

However, Erick Leonel Xicum, president of the Cooperative Society Langosteros del Caribe SC de RL, said that figure is likely 10 times that amount due to poachers, who he says, take advantage of the lack of surveillance along the Caribbean shores due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As the offices of Profepa, the National Commission for Acaculture and Fisheries, and the Secretariat for Agricultural, Rural and Fisheries Development of the State Government were closed, it was difficult to fully implement the ban on snail and lobster,” Leonel Xicum mentioned.

He explained that at least 440 small vessels were detected around the state, taking advantage of the lack of surveillance. He explained that these poachers fished for the snail and then offered them across social media networks. He estimated that the poaching fetched an income in excess of 15 million peso.

Most of the seized items were discovered as they passed through the state’s highway filter systems. Police or the National Guard would later turn over the illegal meat to the competent environmental authorities.

Knowing this, the Senate has recently approved a Permanent Commission, an exhortation to various agencies to reinforce surveillance of the fishing and commercialization of the pink snail, which from 2012 to 2017, was banned from fishing due to its near extinction.

In 2018, a temporary ban was put into place, which means fishermen cannot fish for pink snail during the month of February and also from May 1 to November 30.