“The port without Popof will no longer be the port”, mourn fishermen Dominique Alsuguren

“The port without Popof will no longer be the port”, mourn fishermen Dominique Alsuguren
“The port without Popof will no longer be the port”, mourn fishermen Dominique Alsuguren

Cn Monday afternoon, in the port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, the fishing vessel “Hunekin Aski” was clearly at the quay. “This boat was his little gem,” maintains Jean-Yves Elissalde, president of the Professional Fishermen of the Adour Maritime. After buying it a few years ago, he had restored it and maintained it very well.” “It is parked opposite my office, I see it regularly,” adds Jean-François Irigoyen, the mayor of Luz. “I also saw him regularly…”

Victim of a heart attack on his boat, Dominique Alsuguren, known as Popof, died this Saturday, July 6. “He had left early to fish with Jean-Marc Esteban, his lifelong friend,” relates chaplain Mikel Epalza. Jean-Marc is a very conscientious man, he did everything he could to save him on board. He also called for help, unfortunately, when the helicopter arrived, it was already too late. It touches me because he was 55 years old.” An age when fishermen can retire. “Popof was tough, he always stuck to his job. He was a unique guy who said what he thought out loud.”

He was tough. He always stuck with fishing. He was a unique guy who spoke his mind out loud.”

“He had character and a lot of heart,” continues Jean-François Irigoyen. “He was someone very well-known in the port, like his entire family, who came from the fishing industry. His father was a shipowner, his brother is also a fisherman, while his other brother, who retired, worked at the La Basquaise cooperative,” lists the elected official.

Colleagues shot dead

“He was truly a local figure,” exclaims Serge Larzabal, president of the Interdepartmental Committee (Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Landes) for maritime fisheries and marine farming. “He started very young, as a cabin boy, around 14 years old, or even before,” he says.

At the port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, his colleagues mourn him. The emotion is strong. “Since Saturday night,” recalls Serge Larzabal. “We are all still in shock,” says Jean-Yves Elissalde. It’s true that the announcement was a big blow to everyone’s head. We are all in the same state: dejected. Dominique was ready to lend a helping hand to anyone. It’s a page that is turning: the port without Popof, it will no longer be the port,” laments the man who has worked with him for nearly forty years.

“We had known each other since we were 15: we sailed and played sports together,” recalls Jean-Yves Elissalde. “When we saw each other again about ten years after we had personally changed course, we found each other as if we had parted ways the day before. I also remember his legendary outbursts, when he could get angry in three minutes before it died down ten minutes later.”

While Jean-Marc Esteban brought the “Hunekin Aski” back to the port of Luz, on the night of Saturday to Sunday, feeling sad, Mikel Epalza left for Santander on Monday, with one of his brothers and his nephew. “We took all the steps” to have the body repatriated in the following days. “Popof died in the element he loved the most and doing what he was most passionate about.” Dominique Alsuguren leaves behind a 12-year-old son.

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