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Villager’s Fishing Rules: If it is in your net but it jumps in my boat it is mine!

Fishing rules have existed 25 years ago and beyond. They were not laws from a moratorium, the police or from government. They were simple laws agreed upon by sensible fishermen who cared for one another.

First of all, fishing traps were not allowed in front of the village. They had to be on the shore at least one mile north or south along the coast, but not in front of the village.

Occasionally a fisherman would release a seine net around a school of fish right in front of the main pier or in front of the village. He was required to first obtain permission from the village chairman or the police officer. This would be accepted without any consequences but the fish had to be given away free to any villager who came for a few fishes for the days frying pan. Believe me; every villager went to get his free meal as was customary.

The San Pedro Lagoon, which is the lagoon right behind the village or behind Saca Chispas Field, often became infested by large schools of bonefish, mullet, small barracuda, and even shad. The fishing rule was that any one fisherman could only catch this school by seine net only once a week. This would give other fishermen the opportunity to have their catch.

Now mullet is a special delicacy but the difficulty is that once trapped in a seine net, they can jump 5 to 6 feet in the air and jump right out of the net. If you park your boat or dory alongside the net, they will jump and land right into your boat.

Now when the seine was released in the San Pedro Lagoon to catch a school of mullet, any villager – man, boy or girl was entitled to park his boat beside the net and get his catch of jumping mullets. Sometimes one lucky person would get more mullets than the owner of the net, but this was okay for it was a village custom and village fishing rules had to be kept 25 years ago.

– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist

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