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After I read the full story about the shrimp embargo I thought about my previous post and of Santos Castillo, a man I characterized as "Pescadero Supremo". And I thought about how fishing and shrimping are done here in our little part of the Ballena coast. Santos, and so many pescaderos like him, go out each night in their ancient and oft-rebuilt botes, two or three to a crew. They chug to familiar spots along the coast and put out their lines in hopes of bringing in enough pargo or rovolo to keep their boats in fuel and their electricity turned on. I could see Santos' house in my minds eye, with no doors or windows and the thin-walled but spotlessly clean fish cleaning room. I thought about tiny Santos proudly showing me his day's catch with his wife and business partner at his side wheedling me to take some pargo as well as camarones and reminding me that I was 2500 colones (about $4.25) short. I also thought of the 161 million pounds of shrimp versus Santos' two or three five gallon buckets.

 The shrimp fishing here on the Ballena is done with hand thrown nets, usually at the mouths of rivers just after it rains. The shrimp spawn in the combination of fresh and salt water and the area in which to maneuver a boat is pretty damn tight. Santos' catch of fifteen gallons of shrimp was a good one and probably weighed in the neighborhood of 30 pounds. I bought five kilos from Santos and paid him 4500 colones per kilo for juveniles (15-20 per #), or about $3.50 per # for hand caught fresh shrimp, and he was happy to make the sale.

The turtle is quite respected here in our part of Costa Rica and Playa Tortuga just down the coast is a preserve where the turtles come to lay their eggs. Yes, there are unscrupulous fish sellers here who will discreetly sell you a turtle egg and the Ticos do think of them as an aphrodisiac. But it seems that here, without the lure and the temptation of big US bucks for shrimp, that the entire marine eco-system in kept in balance. Generation after generation hands down not just their boats and secret fishing spots, but also the wisdom and warnings about maintaining the balance of the waters.

taken from our Chef's Blog
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