Sustainable Management of Bycatch in Latin America and Caribbean Trawl Fisheries (REBYC-II LAC)

Analysis of Campeche's shrimp fleet by-catch and its socio-economic importance

As part of the activities of the REBYC II LAC Project in Mexico, a value chain analysis of the shrimp fishery by-catch (FAC in Spanish) in the trawling fleet of Campeche and its socioeconomic importance in the region was carried out. The objective of the study was to evaluate the magnitude of the socio-economic impact that the implementation of fish exclusion devices could generate in the shrimp fleet, as well as the positive impacts for the fishing sector that could result from a better use of the accompanying fauna. The results of this study indicate that, although the FAC retained in shrimp fishing does not make up an important part of the economic income per fishing trip, since the highest profits for the fisherman are obtained from the shrimp catches, this catch does have a great importance as food during the fishing trip, as well as great value for their homes as additional food and to give to their companions in port.

To characterize the retained FAC and its landed value, 185 surveys were applied to the crew of 82 vessels, corresponding to 170 fishing trips. The respondents were mostly ship captains or skippers, although other crew members were also surveyed.

The variety and quantity of FAC that was caught depended on various factors such as the number of effective days fishing, the weather, the proper functioning of the vessel (equipment and machinery) and visited fishing grounds. The groups of species of the FAC retained and landed with the highest volumes were snappers, groupers and sole and, with lower volumes, the “balá” or ray, squid, amberjacks, and other species of finfish. Which, once on the local markets, can reach much higher prices than those seen dockside.

The study shows that the accompanying fauna that is landed has different uses and the benefits it generates are distributed in different ways among fishermen. There are informal agreements for the distribution of the FAC withheld between the companies and the crews and between the crew themselves, according to each company. Among the most common agreements are:

1) The FAC is sold by the captain to an intermediary and the profits are shared equally among the crew. In cases when the fishing trip required an extra sailor or “pacotillero”, the money is used to complement the payment of said crew member.

2) The FAC is divided between the crew in equal parts and, in this case, each crew member decides the final destination of the portion that corresponds to him, being able to use it for his own consumption, sale or gift.

Whatever the type of agreement, in general, a minimum percentage of FAC is always set aside, which is allocated as follows: a) gift to fellow crew members of other vessels that are on land due to vessel failures, health issues or even unemployed; b) there are cases in which the FAC is used as a means of payment in kind for cleaning services (deck, hold) and maintenance of the vessel (welding, refrigeration and mechanics); c) on some occasions, a minimum part of the FAC is destined for the owners of the vessels, at their choice.

The main conclusions of this study are:

• Most crew members mentioned that the FAC is important in their work as food during the fishing trip, in addition to the importance in their homes as an additional source of food, for other vessel workers in port and to other consumers.

• The FAC commercialized in local markets represents a low-priced protein source, accessible to a sector of the Campeche population, whose importance is relative based on the total number of products sold in the market. Likewise, its value can increase up to 400% from when it is landed to the final consumer.

• A decrease in the capture of FAC, as for example, the result of implementing fish exclusion devices in the shrimp fleet, has a marginal impact (less than 5%) on the local economy, mainly on the crews, and to a lesser extent the only company that markets the FAC. However, this may have a greater effect on intermediaries, local market traders and consumers, who find in these species a quality food alternative at affordable prices.