Rubén Penot from Cumana, Venezuela was awarded the Gladding Memorial Award in 2009, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to sustainable management of fisheries and marine resources in the Gulf and Caribbean Region.

Ruben who is 67 years old, remains very active in the fishing industry. He concentrates on troll fishing, targeting offshore pelagics, including cojinua (jacks), cabañas (frigate tuna), and dorado (dolphin, mahi-mahi), although dorado is less common. He continues to use same gear (line) and fishes from Mochima in northeastern Venezuela in pelagic water off the reef. Mr. Penot has continued to fish as often as he can, but recent circumstances stemming from governmental ineffectiveness and the pandemic, have severely curtailed his fishing activities.

Contributing to conservation:

Ruben also remains committed to conservation, and he has continued to lead efforts in beach cleanups, annual reforestation (to help stabilize soil that would otherwise erode and wash into the nearshore waters), and gardening to help maintain a clean and productive coast for his and future generations. He also continues to culture seahorses, a portion of which he sells to the ornamental (national) market and part of which he releases (with children) in nearshore areas; He used to grow spadefish, which are consumed locally, but he is no longer involved with the species. His conservation ethic extends to his collaboration with the National Guard (Guardia Nacional) and the Mochima National Park National Park Institute (INPARQUES), and he works with both agencies to identify poachers and fishers catching undersized fish (“the future of the fishery”, as he identifies the sublegal fish).

Outlook for the future?

Mr. Penot’s message to his fellow GMA winners and the conference is that we must remain positive, and that as fishers, we need to continue fishing and use our craft as a means by which to move our communities forward.