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Story Publication logo April 9, 2015

Mexico: Gaining Access to Shark Camps

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The first people to see it called it the "Vermillion Sea." Jacques Cousteau called it "the world's...

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Manuel Lucero, 65, pulls line out to catch bait for the 'simplera' hook system they use to catch sharks 20 miles offshore. Image by Dominic Bracco II. Mexico, 2012.

Shark fishing in Mexico has always been a game for the strongest, bravest of fishermen. The seas are fickle, the days are long, and the catch itself dangerous.

As a result, shark fishermen tend to be tough-minded and not overly fond of outsiders. But their stories are linked to one of the key issues of ocean conservation today. Perhaps more than any other fish, shark populations are seeing an unprecedented freefall. Due largely to the growing demand in Asia for shark fin soup, some shark populations are ten, five or even two percent of their historic levels.

But it would be wrong to demonize the people catching them. Some of these fishermen have turned to shark because the other fish they depended on have disappeared. Some have been fishing shark the same way for 100 years. And others are just trying to capitalize on a valuable catch. With this in mind, Dominic Bracco II went to live with them in their camps to find out for himself what drives them and what their future might be.

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