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