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Posted Wed Mar 20 2013: from New York Times:
Quest for Illegal Sea Cucumbers at the Sea Bottom Divides Fishing Communities
Whispers of high-speed boat chases, harpoon battles on the open sea and divers who dived deep and never re-emerged come and go around here like an afternoon gale. The fishermen eye strangers -- and one another -- with deep suspicion. "We'll tear them apart," said one, Jorge Luis Palma, squinting into the horizon at a boat he did not recognize. What has wrapped this village in such hostility? Sea cucumbers. The spiky, sluglike marine animals are bottom feeders that are not even consumed in Mexico, but they are a highly prized delicacy half a world away, in China, setting off a maritime gold rush up and down the Yucatan Peninsula.... With a growing Chinese middle class, demand for sea cucumbers has soared, depleting populations in Asian and Pacific waters because of overfishing. "Sea cucumber fever," as residents call it, has taken a toll here, too. Of the estimated 20,000 tons available in 2009, only 1,900 tons are left, according to Felipe Cervera, secretary of rural development in Quintana Roo State.
[Read more stories about: hunting to extinction, overfishing]

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