How has the ocean changed over the years according to you?
Unfortunately, there have been many changes in the ocean. Only a few years ago, in 2015, there wasn’t enough oxygen in the water in our part of the Caribbean. That was a wake up call to us that climate change is very real. We had not believed in it so much before, because we did not really see or experience it. It was a very rough time; fish left the sea and resorted to rivers. In Guatemala, the fishing area is very small so it affected many communities.
Another problem is the agriculture in our region, where farmers produce African oil palms and bananas. The African oil palms are an introduced species and are causing a lot of damage, including the use of pesticides. Many of these pesticides end up in the river. The Motagua river is one of our biggest rivers, running through the entire country. It’s already polluted with garbage, leaving the entire coast line covered in an incredible amount of plastic garbage. But there are many more problems we are facing such as the effects of climate change, little control or legislations, immigration, pollution, cultivation and deforestation.
My biggest frustration is the lack of interest from the government in valuable long term projects that focus on fisheries and the protection of our oceans. We need the government to finance research and support our projects. We don’t have any funding available, no social insurances and the artisanal fishing industry is not considered a financially contributing industry. While actually, it provides a lot of jobs and it is one of the most visible economical activities. Our communities are too vulnerable to depend on donations alone. Many of the communities are located on the polluted seaside and are easily exposed to the effects of hurricanes as well.