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Let's Make a Vivero

Before we make a vivero, I need to tell you what is a “vivero”. It is a vessel in which you could keep your fish alive after you had caught them with your fishing line. The word “vivir” means to live and “vivo” is alive, therefore a “vivero” is where a fisherman would keep his fish alive twenty five years ago. Next before we build one, I need to tell you why you would need a “vivero”. Why would fishermen need to keep their fish alive? First of all we are talking about a time when there was no refrigeration, therefore the fish had to be kept somewhere and readily available for the frying pan. You could clean the fish and preserve it with salt, but then that would mean eating corned fish or salted fish and that was not as good as fresh. Therefore in the “vivero” you could keep one or two dozens of fish alive for several days and you simply had to open the “vivero” and put out three or four for your lunch or supper.

Another good use of the “vivero” was at night-time. Fishermen and even their children used to love going out to the pier and do night fishing. Now at night you did not want to be cleaning the fish, so you simply dumped them into the “vivero” and your next day’s meal would be guaranteed. Remember also that the “vivero” was a storage facility. It could be used to store two to four dozens of snappers whenever the catch was good. During the days when the catch was no so good, you could always go to your “vivero” for your supply.

Now that you see the need of a vivero, let’s build one. It is very simple, you know. First of all, if you had an old canoe, you could simply cut the bow or the stern of the canoe. Some three to four feet would work unless you needed an extra large “vivero, then you could use half of the canoe or the entire canoe. You nail pieces of board across the top of the canoe allowing spaces for water to run in and out of the “vivero” but not large enough for the fish to escape. Then you construct a small door on top of the “vivero”, which you will be able to open to either put in fish or get them out. When you have put in your stock of fish, your simply fasten the cover or door by securing it with rope or wire. Ah, one more thing, you then bore some holes in the bottom of the canoe, and this again is for circulation of water. There you have it, a fine “vivero” for the storage of live fish. You may use any wooden box or fabricate one with pieces of wood that would float. At times when we did not have a “vivero”, we simply placed the fish in a crocus sack and tied its mouth. Then the sack was tied into the sea. The fish could only live a day or two in a sack, so that was not a preferred case.

Today, of course, you might not need a “vivero” because you can store all your fish in the freezer or your refrigerator, but that will not be fresh fish for your table. Twenty five years ago, one would eat fresh fish as much as possible and only salt or corn the fish when there was abundance and this stock was taken to the markets in Belize City or Corozal town. The “vivero” stock was for the local table.

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