Date: 25 September 2023
Nomination by: ACOREMA (Coastal Areas and Marine Resources. Ica, Perú).
Eiber David Gómez De Los Santos, 25 year-old originally from Venezuela, like many young people had to leave his home country in search of better opportunities. He has now been living in Peru for about two years, but has been working as an artisanal fisherman in longline and gillnet fisheries in coastal and open ocean areas for the past five years.
Since 2018, Eiber has been collaborating with the Peruvian conservation organization ACOREMA, when he joined the fishing crew of the boat “Atenas” in the port of Pucusana, Perú. ACOREMA’s work in Pucusana includes outreach to fishermen about the critical conservation situation of sea turtles in the area, especially the leatherback, and how fishermen can help in their recovery. Eiber has been one of the most enthusiastic fishermen about receiving information and putting it to use, because, as he says, he has always wanted to study biology and be a herpetologist.
Left: Eiber mending nets. Right: Juvenile loggerhead turtle, rescued and ready to be released. Fotos: ACOREMA
Eiber has shown commitment and initiative to involve himself in conservation of marine species and the environment in general. He has worked on roughly six different artisanal fishing vessels focused on gillnets (set on the surface or bottom of the sea) and longlines. He has fished out of several different ports along the Peruvian coast and has identified and released all five marine turtle species identified in the country. Every arrival at port has brought new reports and opportunities to learn more about techniques for handling, rehabilitation, and release of marine turtles and to adapt those techniques to fishing activities and the challenging conditions on fishing vessels. His actions have motivated and involved the participation of his colleagues aboard fishing boats.
Eiber likes to document what he sees while fishing at sea through videos and photographs, and has reported his turtle-friendly activities to have a multiplicative effect by showing his fisher colleagues the techniques he has learned. In one example, he made a video using a technique called “pumping the front flippers” to eliminate excess water from turtles while they recover. This video has been shared and used in trainings for fishermen in Costa Rica and Panama, which means more fishermen from different countries are becoming involved in conservation efforts for Eastern Pacific leatherbacks.
Technique to expel water from a turtle’s lungs. Foto: ACOREMA.
Eiber Gómez is a very committed and responsible fisherman, for which he has been recognized as a “LEATHERBACK CHAMPION” by the Red Laúd OPO (Eastern Pacific Leatherback Conservation Network). This award recognizes everything he has done thus far, and provides motivation for him to continue his important work toward improved understanding and conservation of leatherback turtles. As Eiber says:
“We must give back to nature what we’ve taken from her”