Fishing in Havana

Regina Cano

Fishing on the Havana malecon seawall.

There is a feeling of serenity when you cast a line and prepare to listen to the sea – at least until a tug from a fish indicates that the time has come for the water to reveal another of its gifts.  However this is something difficult to realize on the open sea for most Cubans.

Migration across 90 miles of ocean to the US — what many people consider the temptation — seems to be why such a beautiful expansion of the senses has been limited in a country surrounded by water.

Coast Guard controls and patrols that have the objective of protecting the lives of daring navigators prohibit this experience.  The attempts to reach international waters, not far from the coast, are generally made in improvised crafts: inner tubes and styrofoam rafts.

Fishermen and women and emigrants, enjoying or taking advantage of pre-dawn hours, have used this darkness for their respective goals.

These confluences of interests, which are diverse but in turn united by the same physical means of realization, have greatly affected sport fishing and the need to fill plates, a need that increased in the most difficult years of the crisis of the 1990s.

Although it’s true that for some people — in Havana and I suspect across the rest of the Island — the possibility exists for people to belong to an authorized organization to go out onto the open sea in their boats, but membership is also privileged and therefore small (a tiny percentage of the population).

Most of their members live near the seaside East Havana community of Alamar and own boats or yachts that have belonged to their families as far as anyone can remember.  Having repaired their vessels so many times that these no longer resemble what they once were, yet they sustain a heritage.  From what people say, others have been able to join these organizations through the use of “other mechanisms,” though I couldn’t figure out what these were.

So what’s up with the rest of us who don’t have the same luck – those who can only can enjoy the breaking of the waves and fishing from the shore or the wall of the Havana Malecon* and not the close relationship of the sea and you…of you and the line.

* Fishing from the shore is expensive because it is easy to lose fishhooks and lead sinkers in the reefs.

Comments are closed.