Los Roques "People" continued 3...
First turtles, now Lobster..
The main economic activity developed in Los Roques during the last century was fishing. At the beginning it was the turtle and shortly after it turned to lobster and Botuto. It is not until the 60´s when other type fish began to be exploited because lobster offered the highest profits as well as the Botuto. The over fishing of Botuto by the Dutch and Roqueno's resulted in the total ban placed on this activity. As evidence of this are the large heaps of Botuto shells left on several keys by the fishermen themselves.
It is necessary to mention that the distance of the islands from urban centers reduces the amount of working opportunities to fishing and tourism the two activities which generate the greatest income in the archipelago. It is common to see children and young adults leave school to dedicate themselves to this activity (preparing baits etc.) In part this is due to the fact that the only school in the island teaches up to the sixth grade.
According to Lionel Guevara ships would come here to buy and they would set the price of lobster we could not set the price, so those who fished the most made the most money.
From national park to a travellers paradise.
After having been declared national park on August 8th 1972 many activities were defined and /or regulated. In the first place the ecosystem had to be protected, but this idea was not very clear to the fishermen at first, as they had adopted the archipelago as a means of survival.
As a local fisherman says "at the beginning I did not know what that meant but I was told that it would be beneficial for the Roqueno people". I believe that if the national park had not been created, Los Roques would probably have be destroyed. similar to what happen to many of the Philippines islands..
Before the decree all resources were exploited. Turtles which are among the most protected species was the preferred food of Roqueno's. In time Roqueno's have come to understand that taking care of where they live is indispensable. The ban on some fishing techniques and the ban on Lobster (six months a year) and Botuto (now permanent) are some of the restrictions whose objective is to preserve the species.
The idea of turning Los Roques into a national park came up from a group of sport fishermen who visited these islands frequently during the 60´s. These fanatic fishermen approached the then Minister of Agriculture and Fishing, and presented them with reasons for the need to protect Los Roques.
After an act of congress this came through. Apart from Gran Roque the only other place for scientist to stay is in Dos Mosquises that now has its own landing strip, here scientific research, turtle hatching, and teaching is a fact today, it is a worth while visit when you are in Los Roques, and the best experience is on a sailboat, staying there at least one night...