Jellyfish Invade Venezuelan Waters, Worrying Fishermen


AFP Current Affairs
A shell jellyfish seen off the coast of Chuao, Venezuela on April 5th.

Choroni, Venezuela (AFP-Jiji) Jellyfish of various colors float in clusters in the turquoise waters of Aragua, Venezuela. This unrealistic sight is believed to be due to climate change, which has decimated fishing stocks.

“It feels like flowers are blooming in the sea. I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Elvis Morillo, a fisherman from Chuao, a northern village where lush mountains hug the Caribbean coast. 59) said.

Invasive shell jellyfish are filling fishermen’s nets, with the Ministry of the Environment blaming rising sea temperatures due to climate change and a decline in the jellyfish’ natural enemies such as sharks and sea turtles.

At the same time, “Sardines and other bait used for fishing have disappeared. Fishing is at its lowest level in years,” said Gustavo Carrasquel of the NGO Azul Ambientista, who lives in Choloni, a town adjacent to Chuao. Told.

Jellyfish populations are rapidly increasing worldwide. Researchers warn that the ocean could reach a tipping point where fish populations are dominated by jellyfish populations, mainly as a result of overfishing.

These gelatinous creatures have no heart, brain, or complex organs, can thrive in harsh environments, and require little oxygen.

This is “an atypical event, completely abnormal,” said Joxmar Scott Frias, a researcher at the Institute of Zoology and Tropical Ecology at the Central University of Venezuela.

“A few individuals have been observed in recent years, but this year’s population increase exceeded previous estimates,” he said while collecting jellyfish samples for research.

Scott Frias said the reason for the surge is not yet clear.

Jellyfish outbreaks and the presence of an invasive coral called Unomia stronifera that suffocates native corals are causing headaches for local fishermen.

“There has been no fish production for almost nine months,” said Fernando Mayora, president of Choroni’s fishing council.

“We don’t know what to do about the jellyfish and invasive coral problem. The fish are gone,” he said.

In Chuao, fishermen who used to catch 3,000 to 5,000 kilograms a week have seen their catch drop to 500 to 1,000 kilograms, said fisherman Douglas Martinez, 44.

Mayora said Venezuela should take inspiration from countries such as Mexico, which use jellyfish commercially and export them to Asian countries for gastronomy and pharmaceutical industries.

“We need to know if this is available in Venezuela,” he says.



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