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Global Ideas

Mexican lobster fishers hold their breath

What do sharks, rays and plenty of humans have in common? They like the idea of a lobster lunch. Given that fondness, conservationists in Mexico are working to ensure the crustacean is fished sustainably.

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Watch: Diving for lobsters

Project aim: Lobsters are not only a delicacy, but are critical for the coral reef ecosystem. The NGO Razonatura is working with local communities to establish sustainable lobster fishing on the east coast of Mexico
Project size: The project is being implemented in the Sian Ka'an (5280 square kilometers) and Banco Chinchorro (1440 square kilometers) biosphere reserves on Mexico's Caribbean coast
Biodiversity: Nurse sharks, rays, lobsters
Project duration: Ongoing since 2004.

The east coast of Mexico is home to the biosphere reserve known as Sian Ka'an, which to Mayan speakers means something like "the place where heaven was born." It is a unique ecosystem which comprises fish, crocodiles, sharks and turtles. Local communities make a living from a highly sustainable form of lobster fishing, which sees them dive up to fifteen meters without oxygen to bring living creatures to the surface. Spawning females and animals deemed too small are thrown back into the sea, and all those that live at depths greater than 15 meters are spared the fate of the human plate. They are, however, food for other creatures such as sharks and rays. Biologist Kim Ley-Cooper works with local fishermen, and in researching the lobsters, hopes to ensure their protection.

A film by Ruth Krause

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