I traveled to Huaquillas, Ecuador to create a documentary on how the shrimp industry is impacting the environment and livelihood of the local community.
The fight for El Oro
Upon arriving to the province of El Oro, I met a man named Don Pedro Ordinola. Pedro would be my friend and guide throughout my one month stay in the Southeastern border town of Huaquillas. Pedro is a lifelong environmental activist, who has devoted his life and risked his personal safety to defending the mangrove forest ecosystem that has been under attack by Ecuador’s growing shrimp industry. The mangrove forests are important for a variety of reasons. They provide a natural barrier to the land, and they are the home to a lot of plants and animals. Specifically, clams and crabs live amongst the mangroves, which provide job opportunities for local fishermen. A retired crab fisher himself, he spent years fishing for crabs and clams in the forests and selling them to the community. But the encroachment of the shrimping pools has not only caused the mangrove forests to dry out, it has also impacted the coastal ecosystem due to the high volume of chemicals poured into the water to help the shrimp grow faster and bigger. So now the ancestral form of fishing Pedro and many Huaquillas residents participate in to support their families, is threatened. And seeing as the shrimp industry is a huge money maker for Ecuador, the government often looks the other way at environmental violations. But still, Pedro fights for the land, the animals, and his community.
The video here is a trailer to a documentary I made telling Pedro’s story.
More about Pedro’s work can be found at www.ccondem.org.ec