Santos Banegas has been fishing in Puerto Castilla, Honduras for 35 years. He’s never seen the situation this bad.

Like many in Puerto Castilla, fishing is a way of life for Santos Banegas. It’s how he feeds his family, it’s how he puts a roof over their heads, and it’s how he made sure his kids got an education.

Banegas is one of six million fishers around the world who depend on coral reefs for food and income. His children are grown now, but they’re all fishers, too. In fact, most people in Puerto Castilla fish. It’s the biggest industry. Some people go on to get jobs with companies in other industries, but most people stay and fish.

When Banegas started fishing 35 years ago, he’d catch 300-500 pounds of fish every time he went out. Now, he’s lucky if he catches 20-30 pounds.

“Every day it is getting worse and worse,” says Banegas. He attributes the change to warming sea temperatures, or perhaps the invasive lionfish, a predator on coral reefs. The more likely culprit? Overfishing.

“If the situation continues like this, we will have to look for bigger boats so that they can take us further out to fish,” says Banegas. “The alternative is that we die of hunger.”

The good news is that the community is willing and eager to find a solution. Banegas, for example, gladly works with our community scientist, Ana Bessy Valdez Martinez, to share data from his catch. Martinez is using the information to help fishers better understand what’s happening underwater, and working with the local technical committee to build effective policies and regulations that will protect fisheries.

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