Mexico City fishermen fight to save Aztec floating gardens; AFP

Mexico – Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco

MEXICO CITY (AFP) – Roberto Altamirano has the lake to himself as he casts his glistening net onto the still water in a perfect circle, lets it sink, then slowly pulls it in.

It comes back bearing a large haul of tilapia and carp — and that is exactly the problem.

Altamirano is one of just 20 or so fishermen who remain in the floating gardens of Xochimilco, an idyllic network of lakes, canals and artificial islands improbably tucked into the urban sprawl of Mexico City.

At 42, he has watched the number of fishermen here plunge over the years, leading to booming populations of tilapia and carp — invasive species that are threatening the already strained ecosystem of Xochimilco, a green lung vital to the health of smog-choked Mexico City.

“There’s more Xochimilco than there are fishermen,” says Altamirano.

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