The Progreso Co-Op in “La Bocana” has a rich history of seafood harvest dating back to 1944 when its founders established camps that harvested clams that were being sold to the U.S. to feed its soldiers during the height of World War 2. After the war, the clam operation was stopped and focus began to turn towards the abalone.
The Co-Op was a private entity at first, but eventually became an operation managed to benefit the collectivity. Many of the founding members came to the area in the late 1950’s and 1960’s. In 1974, the first seafood factory was founded and then years later the abalone-cultivating lab was built in 1986.
A cooperative in this manor refers to the granting use of the waters and it’s bounty to the members of the cooperative by the Mexican government. Members work together to harvest and care for the area and share in the work and the profits. This model is working well in relation to many of Mexico’s local commercial fisheries. Education about the value of a well-balanced and managed fishery has proven beneficial to all that are involved in the economy of the region.
The stated mission of the Progreso Sociedad Cooperativa is to “continue with our sustainability politics regarding the resources that are around us and to protect our social environment as a cooperative society united with interpersonal relationships outside of the cooperative with the purpose of creating conscience that a well constituted and organized society can go hand in hand with the wealth and sustainability of the natural resources, being these what drives the life of our enterprise.”
The current seafood processing plant is a modern facility established in 2007 and handles abalone, lobster and a variety of fish. The plant operates under the highest standards for hygiene and optimizes the freshness of the seafood from the boat to the table.
The abalone reproduction lab functions as a breeding facility for wild caught brood stock. Not only are abalone produced as an aquaculture product, but a portion of the stock is reintroduced into the local environment to ensure the sustainability of the fishery for abalone. The seed stock or baby abalone are raised in tanks and fresh seawater is pumped in from the nearby ocean to feed and flush the facility.
“It takes about five years for a tiny abalone to reach market size,” said Julio Mesa, BD’s local connection for all things fishy. The products are sold under the California Mexico Brand and are very popular with Asian markets where it enjoys a premium status.
The Local Knowledge crew visited the facility during the filming of Episode 2; Click here if you missed it and watch the latest episode of Local Knowledge this Sunday on Destination America Channel at 7 AM EST.