Mexican Navy seizures affecting Baja lobster prices?

$30 a pound, $20 frozen in Ensenada,

740 lobsters released in Ejido Eréndira
  • 740 lobsters released in Ejido Eréndira
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On August 7, the Mexican Navy along with workers from the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries, secured 280 lobster traps and rescued and released 740 lobsters in Ejido Eréndira, a small community about 62 miles south of Ensenada — according to Mexican news outlets.

“The lobsters were caught in a period of time deemed by the government as illegal,” R. Gonzalez said, “The restriction is usually between around March and September 15.”

Gonzales is a seafood chef from Ensenada. “This is done in order to protect the sustainability of our lobster resources,” he said. “During this time of the year when the lobsters begin their reproductive stage — it is prohibited to capture, fish or sell lobsters in the area.”

“But what about the lobsters sold at Puerto Nuevo and the Mercado Negro seafood market at the northern entrance to Ensenada?” I asked Gonzales.

“The lobsters that are [sold and] consumed during the restriction period were [likely] frozen,” he responded, “and that inventory has to be reported to the government agencies.”

Celeste C. is an Escondido resident that’s been visiting Puerto Nuevo, known as “Lobster Village,” since the 1990s. I communicated with her on August 10, shortly after Americans traveling through the Mexican Federal Highway 1D (cuota) reported on Facebook that the toll booth operators at Playas de Tijuana and Rosarito, were charging fees to drive the scenic route to Puerto Nuevo (about 30 miles south of the San Ysidro-Tijuana border) and if they proceeded another 30-plus miles south to Ensenada — they had to pay the toll fee for a third time.

“We ate at the Puerto Nuevo 2 restaurant,” she said. “It came with a good-sized lobster, rice, beans, tortillas, and salad with homemade dressing, and the cost was about $25.”

Celeste is a Yelp Elite 2019 reviewer with 146 reviews under her belt; she rated her lobster experience here at a 5 star out of five; she commented: “They went out of their way to explain things and you could tell they were having fun! The restaurant inside is clean, spacious, and well-decorated. We got our food quickly, but did not feel rushed.”

Not everyone on Yelp was as stoked with the langosta from here; some said it was “bland” and the lobster bisque was “missing something, like cream.” Another said the Margaritas were “too sweet.”

Overall the restaurant that Celeste gleaned about scored a 4.5 average and not one complained about the prices, despite lobster being out of season.

“The price has gone down from a U.S. visitor’s perspective, because the peso isn’t as strong as it was, which makes the prices overall seem cheaper, and it varies in different seasons.”

In a 2012 Reader article titled “Baja Is Still Baja,” the author said that her lobster experience in Puerto Nuevo cost $30. “We chose the picturesque Angel del Mar,” said the author, “with a huge open-air terrace and 180-degree views of the ocean. We indulged in four tender lobsters with butter, rice, beans, tortillas and two margaritas.

Since 2001, Ramon Hernandez, a City Heights resident, has treated his family and friends to Puerto Nuevo. “I remember when the waiters would bring out three different sized live lobsters and you could choose if you wanted them fried or steamed — I always had mine deep fried. The prices per lobster did vary from time to time, and recently, we also have to consider the casetas (toll booths) again, since I heard they are operational again.”

Hernandez said that he’s been exploring north-of-the-border options. “We’ve been eating lobster at Lotus Garden on University for about $20-$25 a pound,” he added, “but here, we don’t have the waterfront to gaze at and unlimited tortillas and melted butter dip.”

“The price of live lobster is about $30 a pound and $20, frozen — here in Ensenada,” Gonzales says, “and it can be cheaper. Illegal fishing of all seafood products is sort of common in Mexico, due to corruption among some fisheries and some inspectors.”

In March, Mexican news outlet Milenio reported that the military seized 2,924 kilos of lobster and 202 kilos of sea turtle meat, with a total value of up to 1,579,413.60 pesos ($81,294 USD) — at Ejido Ajusco, which is 26 miles south of Ensenada. “The cargo of lobster and sea turtle meat was hidden in the back of a white ice truck running northbound.”

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