Farewell Changa! | WWF

Farewell Changa!

Posted on
30 September 2014
“The changa is a very harmful tool”, said Edquener Vallejo, a fisherman from the Bazan Bocana community in the Colombian Pacific, who voluntarily traded his changa, a non-approved non sustainable fishing net, for an approved one. Vallejo is not the only one who has done it. On July 12, in Buenaventura, a municipality in the north Colombian Pacific, five local fishermen did the same thing during an event organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the National Authority of Aquaculture and Fishing (AUNAP, in Spanish). The event's goal was to communicate one of the most significant projects taking place in the region: the Consolidation of the Fishing Productive Chain in the Colombian Pacific Region.

The use of changas and riflillos in shallow waters is forbidden in Colombia´s Pacific Ocean, due to the fact they both are inadequate technical devices that threaten the younger populations of shrimp and other marine resources. The use of these devices threatens marine ecosystems since each time the seabed is dragged and removed it causes the loss of organisms that live in the benthic zone, the ecological region found at at the lowest level of the ocean.

The small size of the changa´s loopholes causes the capture of tiny organisms, most of them juveniles that still have not been able to reproduce. A significant amount of the capture, including the juveniles, is usually discarded because it proves to be commercially unworthy, and of no use for the fishermen.

The trading of nets event is part of the Sustainable Fishing project that has been undertaken by the AUNAP and the Marine-Coastline Programme of WWF-Colombia in the Pacific Region. The objective is to incentive fishermen to voluntarily join the programme and change their utensils for approved nets (2 ¾ inch size loopholes).

“I joined the exchange programme because we had been told they would take away our changas. If I refuse to change it I know sooner or later the government is going to take it away from me”, said fisherman Florentino Cuero during the event.

The fishermen are realizing that fishing with approved nets brings them benefits and can guarantee the resource´s sustainability. “Responsible fishing brings us benefits like a better capture, bigger sizes and the chance to improve quality and product price”, said fisherman Jairo Díaz, who added: “We wish that it is not only us and that other communities in the Pacific can join in, so we can create a different type of market.”

Natalia Uribe and Erika Restrepo, Marine-Coastline Programme WWF- Colombia

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