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Puerto de La Libertad

Federico Alegria | El Salvador

A nurse overlooks the pier at La Libertad from a restaurants' corridor, which are supplied by local fishing intermediates.

This projects attempts to depict the everyday working culture of local fishermen at Puerto de La Libertad, El Salvador.

Artisanal fishing activities begun getting historically recorded in El Salvador between 1950s and 1960s. Originally, it was considered to be a solely subsistence practice. Today, it's mixed with other commercial activities, resulting in a partial income source for fishing families. Beyond fishing, gillnets manufacturing and repair is part of fishermen's daily routine.

This photoessay aims to show the daily life around the work carried out by the local fishermen at "Puerto de la Libertad". A dock-site which was built in 1870, and has been rebuilt on a couple of occasions since that date. It currently has the housing capacity of 27 fishing boats, and an ascent-and-descent arm managed by the 5 local fisheries production cooperatives. Most of the fishermen in the area are part of the cooperatives, and they govern in an organized way among themselves.

Fihermen's routine can be divided into daily and prolonged fishing activities. In the first one, they go into the sea at early hours and return later in the evening of the same day. In the latter, they spend up to 48 hours on average at the sea. When it comes to daily routines, they are performed during 6 days a week. On each trip, fuel is their largest expense, and its constantly varying price has a direct impact on the overall artisanal fishing's sustainability.

According to the local fishermen, the the recent and more accelerated climate changes have impacted their activities as well as international waters industrial fishing ones. This prompts artisan fishermen to practice long-runs in a more recurrent way. On average, fishermen's families are made up of 4 children and a spouse; and it is usual for the household group to participate in the fishing activities. At the dock's market, children presence is obvious, and as they grow older, they begin to participate more in the totality of the craft. During adolescence, a gender-related separation takes place, leading women to stay on land; and young men began getting out to the sea with older fishermen.

The pier's commercial culture allows both, individuals and merchants, to access freshly sea-extracted fish and shellfish. The offer is diverse; but due to the net-based fishing method, it leaves a considerable amount of underutilized product too. Lobsters, squid, shrimp, shells and clams are usually available at the market; as well as various sized fish.

The sale to individuals and tourists is minimal compared to the deals made with local intermediates. These tend to buy in bulk, and usually pay for the full boats' load. After that, they supply nearby-restaurants and markets. This commercial dynamic means that fishermen sell what they take at lower prices than local markets. The main destination of their catch is commerce; but sometimes, fishermen save a little for their house-hold consumption too.

References

- Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG). (2002). Study on the Development of Artisanal Fishing in El Salvador.
- Arias, M. (2014, May 25). Fish won't miraculously multiply. El Faro. https://www.elfaro.net/es/201405/fotos/15399/Los-peces-no-se-multiplicarán-de-milagro
- Berríos, W., Escobar, F., Herrera, G., López, F., Palacios, L., and Rodríguez, Ó. (2013). Trade and subsistence of the artisanal fishermen of the dock in La Libertad's port. Technological University of El Salvador.
- FAO. (2005). Informative Summary on Fishery by Country.
- Ramos, M., and Solís, M. (2017). Implementation of alternative artisanal methods for the tanning of the skins of the whip ray (Hypanus longus and Hypanus dipterurus), generated by filleting waste in the dock of the port of La Libertad in order to create a raw material. Dr. José Matías Delgado University.

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