Fish fall from heaven once or twice a year on the poor Honduran town of Yoro. They call it The Lluvia de Peces, the rain of fish, and it is widely seen as a miracle.
Scientists suggest it may be caused by water spouts that suck up fish from the ocean. But none of them can explain why for more than a century, the spout has always targeted the small town, at a similar time every year, with fish from the Atlantic Ocean about 45 miles away.
For decades, the event has given residents, who normally live on corn and beans, a rare treat of seafood. People come together at a yearly festival that honors the 19th-century Spanish Catholic missionary whose prayers for relief from a long hunger, are regarded as having started the downpours.
On April 23 this year, when a thunderstorm hit in the middle of the night and fish of many sizes hit roofs and cars and poured on to the ground, Edgardo Melgar, head of communications and strategy at the ad agency Ogilvy Honduras, experienced it for himself. “It was amazing,” he says. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”
He was there because the ad agency Ogilvy and multinational fish company Regal Springs wanted to create a different kind of “miracle” for the community’s residents, most of whom live on less than $1 a day. Teaming up with their client, Regal Springs, a sustainable fish farming firm, and the municipality of Yoro, they created a plan to pay residents for catching the fish, on a per-fish basis. They called the product “Heaven Fish”.
April 23rd was the first harvest. People rushed outside, using objects like hammocks and supermarket bags as nets, to grab the “catch of the day,” Melgar says. They then took the fish, which included tilapia, snapper, and bass, to local Regal Springs centers for cleaning. From there, the fish were sent to the main factory hubs for processing and wrapped in sustainable packaging made primarily from local banana peels.
Melgar says the price paid per fish varied according to the species, but averaged at about $6 per pound. Some families collected 30 pounds or more, filling up small wagons. “There’s not so much fish that you need to catch to have an increase [in income],” he says.
Heaven Fish was shipped to more than 200 restaurant and groceries in Honduras, sold at a premium charge due to its trademark destination of origin. Eighty per cent of Regal Springs’ revenue from Heaven Fish goes directly to the people of Yoro.
Ogilvy’s Honduras office has a record of impactful work, including the award-winning Morning After Island campaign, which helped push the Honduran government to rescind a ban on the morning-after pill.
In a Honduras town, it rains fish. This brand turns the phenomenon into a source of income for locals. Fast Company, May 15, 2023
In Honduras, ‘Miracle’ Fish From the Sky Turn into Extra Income. Reasons to be Cheerful, May 17, 2023
Heaven Fish – Regal Springs. Ogilvy
‘Heaven Fish’ Turns an Annual Miracle into Opportunity for the People of Honduras. Ibbonline, May 12, 2023