The industrial shrimp aquaculture began in south Honduras in 1972. So far, in the 185 kilometers coastal strip of the Gulf of Fonseca, more than 20,000 hectares of mangroves, lagoons and other wetlands have been destroyed, negatively impacting both native and migratory biodiversity, either by habitat loss or contamination due to discharge of sewage and other waste into natural ecosystems. There were 12 murders recordered and more than half a dozen artisanal fishermen injured with impunity. Although it is said that exportations of this crustacean has generated more around US$ 180 million, in the year of 2010 the region remains one of the poorest. Fishermen and other collectors have lost part of their access to wetlands, estuaries, and the sea, which means loss of food sovereignty, among other negative impacts. The government emphasizes job opportunities offered by the shrimp industry, but hides the number of fishermen who suffer because of fishing ground displacement in the estuaries, spoliation of wetland resources, destruction of biodiversity, and unpunished violation of human rights.
In protest against the negative impacts already mentioned, fishermen, farmers, school teachers and environmentalists formed the “Committee for the Defense and Development of Flora and Fauna of the Gulf of Fonseca” (CODDEFFAGOLF), which operates since 1988 in the solution of problems caused by shrimp aquaculture and extends its activities towards environmental protection in general, covering local, national as well as international politics.
Although Honduras is a signatory of the United Nation’s “International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” that, under constant pressure of the CODDEFFAGOLF and of the national and international civil society, in 1999 the country has appointed the wetlands of the Gulf of Fonseca as the “Ramsar Site #1000”; and that the National Congress decreed 10 protected areas in the gulf in 2000; and the fact that Honduras often participates in the conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Change, Ramsar and others…
… In the year of 2002, arose in Honduras the first Spanish transnational enterprise, which has D’Agustin de Jaime Soriano as one of the brands, violating the environmental legal infrastructure with the destruction of 100 hectares of wetlands, building a shrimp farm in a “Protected Area” and part of a “Ramsar Site #1000 – La Barbería”. Far for being punished, the Enterprise accused the CODDEFFAGOLF director Jorge Varela and 5 fishermen of blocking the project, obtaining and injunction against them, which forbids their proximity to the farms. Crime consummated, in later years continues its destructive progress facing the CODDEFFAGOLF counting with the complicity and submission of the authorities.
About two years ago PESCANOVA has arrived from Spain, and also bought Honduran shrimp farms located in “Protected Areas”. Following practices and trends of its predecessors, it attempts to expand through applications of concessions in wetlands and in other protected areas. The fight of CODDEFFAGOLF in order to prevent this to happen is renewed yet uneven.
Importantly, like it or not, the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras prohibits (art. 107) the ownership of coastal lands by foreign individuals and companies under any title. However, the Constitution has been violated with the consent of governments.
Once the shrimp enterprises are established, they join the so called Honduras’ National Association of Aquiculture (ANDAH), which is on the point of signing a “Cooperation Covenant”. This covenant leads to the impression that shrimp farmers will co-manage several Protected Areas, intending to “clear their names”, erasing their crime records, improving their competitiveness abroad, and soon imposing -supported by the Law- their authority over the wetlands which were not yet destroyed, and where the enterprises are constantly accused by fishermen of violating human rights.
The “Board of Co-Managers of Honduran Protected Areas” (MOCAPH) has sent a notification of protest to the Honduran administration, and the CODDEFFAGOLF threatens to organize a massive mobilization in the capital if this shameless attempt succeeds.
In the meanwhile, as Christmas and Western New Year approach, European, American, Japanese and other consumers get ready to taste very cheap shrimp, once the real environmental, social and economic prices won’t be charged. Enjoy the food which is an offspring of our suffering people!
FUENTE: MAP’S NEWSLETTER