Oyster Farming Empowers Women in Southern Sinaloa

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Oyster farming becomes a development alternative and employment opportunity for women in Teacapán.

After several years of organization and work, the Teacapán Ostriculture Project, which belongs to the NODESS “Marine Strength” initiative for Social and Solidarity Economy, is making progress. It consists of 12 people, eight men and four women who are mothers, wives, and daughters of fishermen.

This is the first stage of a non-profit initiative to empower and make women visible with the valuable support of men, together learning teamwork for oyster farming: crassostrea gigas (Japanese oyster) and crassostrea corteziensis (pleasure oyster), in Teacapán, Sinaloa.

This group has developed an oyster seed farming project on about 350 linear meters in an area known as “El Queso,” with capabilities in social, solidarity, community, and inclusive economy.

Teacapán has 452 hectares certified by the State Commission for Protection Against Sanitary Risks, to launch an innovative project that is oyster farming.

María del Socorro Durán Villanueva, 51, and her colleagues received training on production processes, innovation, and best practices, as they had no idea how to cultivate oyster seed.

In the first experimental stage, full of learning and great challenges, they managed to harvest more than 5,000 oysters, which encourages them to continue with the project that they hope will soon bring profits.

“We knew nothing, those who trained us told us everything, the water, the cultivation, and the harvest, they taught us stage by stage, we knew the oyster, but not the seed,” explains María del Socorro.

The woman from Teacapán was born and raised with everything related to fishing, as her father dedicated his life to this activity, capturing shrimp, oyster, clam, and all kinds of fish.

“As young girls, we liked to go for clams, but my father didn’t like it much, he scolded us, saying that women were not for that, in fact, I always wanted to learn to weave nets and chinchorros, and he didn’t let me,” she points out.

Now she has the opportunity to participate in this project along with her husband Gumercindo, who is also a fisherman and has worked for more than three months to see the first results, which were 30 kilos of oyster for each participant.

“One goes to train, work, and take care of and carry out the project, we started six women and six men, but two left because they got desperate because it was only work and there was no pay, but this is how it is,” she comments.

They dedicated an average of 5 hours per week for just over three months to this work, as they themselves made the mosquito net fabric bags to deposit the seeds, care for their growth week after week, change to clean bags, then arrange them in crates for the mollusk to grow, stack them in batches of four, cover them, tie them up, and put them into the sea until their final growth.

“It feels very nice to see that you started this, first to see the seed grow and then to see the oyster grow, it is very satisfying because it is the result of our work that can be improved and that will be reflected in the results of the next cycle,” she points out.

The women aim to break paradigms and become entrepreneurs, strengthening their capacities, paving the way for the next generations of girls and young women through entrepreneurship.

Experimental Stage Paola Luévanos Carrillo, director of projects at the Bonfil Park Fish Refuge and Administration, highlighted that this was born to make women’s labor in fishing visible.

The oyster seed farming is within the certified area, which is why they work very closely with Coepriss, with which they can safely commercialize the product.

She indicated that the cycle scheduled to conclude in July was brought forward, as the high temperatures began to heat the water and the salinity rose, therefore, the oyster began to spawn and to avoid further losses due to mortality, all the product had to be removed.

The first stage was practically training and collective learning, and currently, they are working on the production of seed to start planting in July in a staggered manner, so that the group can have periodic harvests.

“The seed is being worked on, in the laboratory they have people from the same project who are joining, they are being trained, they are learning to produce the oyster seed, but due to the success of the project, it has had a good impact and although we have an offer of support from Compendi, who provided it, we want to have our own,” she highlights.

In this project, state and municipal authorities, civil associations, federal educational and research institutions participated: National Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Linkage and Regional Development, UNAM’s Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology, and the #23 Teacapán Sea Technological Studies Center, among others.

Oyster Farming Oyster farming in Sinaloa is the new mariculture that has placed the entity as the third national producer.

This success is due to the integration of family cooperatives.

According to the report from the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fishing, it indicates that aquaculture oyster, in 2023, had a production of 7,783.21 tons, with a value of 177.06 million pesos.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization specifies in its records that Mexico is among the top 10 places in the world production of cultivated oyster.

Baja California took first place with 2,325.74 tons; followed by Baja California Sur with 2,251.55; Sinaloa with 1,537.27; Tabasco with 874.41; Sonora with 370.48; Nayarit with 339.17; Veracruz with 80 and Tamaulipas with 4.59 tons.

Certification Status

In the state, there are only four sites with that certification status, Teacapán, in Escuinapa; Colorada beach, in Angostura and two sites in Navolato, with a total of 12,400 hectares.

Last February, as part of the Program for Classification, Certification, and Sanitary Maintenance of Water Bodies promoted by the Government of Sinaloa, the Agreement for sanitary maintenance was signed, which includes the certified waters for oyster farming in Teacapán, which has as its main objective, to guarantee the healthiness of these areas where fishing, cultivation, and harvesting of bivalve mollusks are carried out.

These works, in which, in addition to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the State Commission for Protection Against Sanitary Risks of the State of Sinaloa, as well as southern port fishing producers, participate, are of great relevance, since by guaranteeing the healthiness of the products extracted from there, they favor the commercialization of these and strengthen confidence in their consumption because they do not represent risks to public health.

Supporting the project National Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Linkage and Regional Development UNAM’s Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology #23 Teacapán Sea Technological Studies Center National Production 7,783.21 tons produced in 2023.

Leading Production

Baja California, 92,325.74 tons

Baja California Sur, 92,251.55 tons

Sinaloa, 9,537.27 tons

Tabasco, 9,874.41 tons

Sonora, 9,370.48 tons

Nayarit, 9,339.17 tons

Veracruz, 980 tons

Tamaulipas, 94.59 tons

Source: El Sol de Mazatlan