Minerva Pérez Castro, Mexican seafood industry trade president, shot dead after calling out illegal fishing

Minerva Pérez Castro
Minerva Pérez Castro | Photo courtesy of Atenea en el Mar
4 Min

Minerva Pérez Castro, the president of the Cámara Nacional de las Industrias Pesquera y Acuícola (Canainpesca), was shot dead in Ensenada, Mexico, on Monday, 8 July, hours after calling out the negative impacts of illegal fishing in the region.

Pérez Castro was shot just after 7 p.m. in her car outside the headquarters of Atenea en el Mar, a seafood company where she worked that focuses on the harvesting and sale of giant clam (almeja generosa) and other shellfish species. Police said more than 30 bullet impacts were found in and on her car.

Hours earlier, Pérez Castro had spoken to media about the problems of illegal fishing, protection racketeering, and extortion by organized crime cartels, which she described as rampant in the country’s industry.

“The products of illegal fishing reach the same markets that legal product reaches but without all the production costs related to a legally constituted company," she said. She previously described instances of cartel members stopping trucks loaded with seafood to demand fees for safe passage, according to the Dallas News.

Local police and the Baja California State Attorney General's Office (FGE) said they are investigating the murder. Baja California Governor Marina del Pilar and Mexico Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) Julio Berdegué Sacristán condemned the assassination.

“I am committed to working tirelessly to ensure this does not go unpunished,” del Pilar said in a statement issued 9 July.

Berdegué Sacristán, who recently assumed his position under the newly elected president of Mexico, Claudia Sheinbaum, said Pérez Castro’s death should be a clarion call for action to be taken to rid the country’s seafood industry of crime.

“We must eradicate illegal fishing in Mexico,” he said on X.

The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, which is working to eliminate illegal gillnet fishing in Baja California by working closely with the supply chain, and sustainable fisheries group El Centro Desarrollo y Pesca Sustentable (CeDePesca), issued statements of condolence.

“Minerva was a great businesswoman, exceptional leader, and great friend. We strongly condemn what happened and add our voice to the expressions of repudiation and indignation that have arisen after such a regrettable incident,” CeDePesca Executive Director Ernesto Godelman said in a statement.

Godelman said Pérez Castro faced a separate attack around one year ago, also likely in response to her requests to Mexican authorities to work harder to stop fishing illegal.

“CeDePesca is calling on Mexico’s authorities at all levels to carry out an exhaustive investigation and not to allow this brutal crime to go unpunished. Likewise, we urge all entities and organizations with which we work, inside and outside of Mexico, to issue similar requests,” he said. “CeDePesca and all its members send their support and condolences to Pérez Castro’s family, friends, and associates in Mexico’s fishing and aquaculture sector.”

Pérez Castro, 53, was elected as president of Canainpesca in June 2023. On her company’s website, a commitment to sustainability remained posted as of 9 July.

“We promote the fishery improvement project in the Gulf of California to improve the sustainability conditions of the giant clam fishery and ensure a better future for our children,” it said.

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