They are the world’s most popular birth control product, but in Cuba, condoms are also ingeniously used to catch expensive ocean fish that they would not otherwise be able to reach.
In a country where the communist government is extremely paranoid about illegal emigration to the United States, and strictly controls who can own and use boats, “balloon fishing” has become a very cheap and effective way of catching fish like red snapper, barracuda and tarpon without having to leave the shore. The secret to this unusual fishing technique – latex condoms.
Fisherman along the Havana seawall use inflated condoms to create homemade floats that carry their lines as far as 900 feet into the ocean and keep the bait high in the water. As soon as they hit the surface of the water, the strong current starts pulling it out to sea, far beyond casting distance, and when a fish takes the bait, the line pulls free, and all fishermen have to do is reel it in. It’s a very simplistic yet surprisingly effective fishing method that puts food on the table for hundreds of Cubans. “It’s amazing how strong they are,”Michel Perez, a young fisherman along Havana’s Malecon sea wall, praised the condoms.