Lobster Guilt

January 1st, 2006
by Alfonso Ebanks

[private] v4-1-Our Islands Everything wrong with the lobster diving today was started by persons that got lucky and was able to get out of the business. Some of those people are under the impression that if the diving is closed the boats that fish lobster with divers are going to disappear. Well they are wrong; the dive boats will become direct competition for the trappers and their traps.

A few years ago some of those people went to great lengths to have the diving closed and those same people went so far as to publish ads in foreign newspapers with such phrases as “Someone may have died to get you that lobster dinner”. Those people are supposed to be concerned with the health and welfare of the Miskito Indians. These international concerns seem to overlook the fact that tens of thousands have died and are still dying in coal mine accidents around the world. Maybe some headlines should read “Someone may have died to keep you warm this winter.”

While those people were writing and paying thousands of dollars for ads, the dive boat owners were and still are feeding all the people of the whole Mosquitia. My boat alone maintains forty families.

Someone said that he could tell that the diving business was not a success because there were no rich divers. If he had looked a little closer he would have found out that there are no rich dive boat owners either.

The ad writers, using fallacious information stirred up interest in the international community for the “plight” of the Miskito Indian and now the international concerns are pressuring the Honduran government to close the diving.

Few mention the accident rates in diamond mines, gold mines, the petroleum industry and the fishing industry throughout the world. One recent year, in the United States alone, 285 fishermen lost their lives doing their job, the bigger percentage of those deaths occurred in Alaska. Maybe some headlines should have read “Some one may have died to get you that king-crab dinner”.

In one fourteen year period (1972-1986) there were 960 linemen killed in the United States and Canada, but I don’t remember seeing any headlines that read, “Some one may have died to keep your lights on.”

There is nobody more concerned with the health and welfare of the Miskito diver than a dive boat owner. After all, we are the ones that have to pay and one sick diver can set us back quite a bit and a dead diver can create a permanent burden with a packinghouse. My motto has always been “Bring my boat back empty before you bring me a sick diver” and I want to believe that these are the sentiments of all dive boat owners.

There is an inherent risk in SCUBA diving, whether it is for lobster, for oil exploration or for pleasure and there are also dangers and risks in many other lines of work but there has been and always will be individuals that are willing to chance the odds in order to feed their families. [/private]

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