Making a Living

A fisherman lost at sea got the community searching, and scratching its head. From what I understand it is a complicated story. Our fishermen leave Aruba’s territorial waters to spear fish between Venezuela and Colombia, because spear fishing is outlawed in Aruba.

At Baho, an underwater mountain South of the island they free-dive to retrieve their powerful spear guns, the ones they cannot keep here.  I understand they hide their gear in caves under water, beyond our borders. Once they get their guns they go after lobster, favored by local restaurants and their glutton patrons, who pay handsomely for the goodies.

Having speared enough lobster, the fishermen drop their guns back in hiding and speed back to Aruba. Having fished outside our territorial waters the Coast Guard closes its eyes. As long as the illegal weapon is not on board.

The Venezuelan Coast Guard comes chasing often, but that is the risk the fishermen take to earn a living, they sort-of like the cat and mouse game. Remember the border is closed!

And my sources claim they have paid informants on the Venezuelan side, reporting on the whereabouts of the Venezuelan Coast Guard ships and warning against their presence. 

Locals clients don’t care. As long as there is a steady supply of lobster, we’re good.

Alas, cell phones don’t work in the Baho fishing areas, that are out of cell-tower reach. And being superheroes in their own mind, no fisherman ever invests in marine radios.

They leave Aruba without communications, without any Plan B resources, armed with an inflated sense of confidence and a rosary!

Added complication: As a boat owner you may apply for a Marine radio permit, but it is a fixed radio, nothing portable. The authorities want to see one marine radio per boat, but cannot enforce it, the fishermen cannot afford it, and shared, portable radio permits are no available.

The search in-the-event is expensive, and often heartbreaking. We even have a monument to lost fishermen, a grand total of 42.

So just like Blood Diamonds, if you order lobster in a local restaurant, please note that a fisherman put his life in danger, for the delicacy to reach your plate.

The fishermen who accompanied the missing man on his fatal journey, are reportedly detained, not arrested, in Venezuela. They wish to come back, but not without their boat. So, they wait for their release from the authorities.

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March 09, 2020
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Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster