Photo: Carlos Aguilera
We are deeply concerned about the future of the vaquita marina, a small porpoise endemic to Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California. Long on the brink of extinction, the vaquita is facing an additional threat due to rampant poaching of an endangered fish – the totoaba – whose swim bladder is prized in Asian cuisine, and whose future is also imperiled. The situation is now dire with scientists estimating that fewer than 60 vaquita may now exist, escalating the urgency for action. Not only are the futures of vaquita and totoaba at stake, but also the future of thousands of legal fishermen whose livelihoods are uncertain as the government proposes management changes to address the threats to vaquita.
In July, President Peña Nieto and President Obama called for a permanent ban on gillnets in the Upper Gulf region where vaquita are found, the development of alternative gear to ensure that legal fishing in the Upper Gulf does not interact with vaquita, and bilateral coordination on enforcement to eliminate illegal trafficking of totoaba. The Mexican government has made initial strides, and this week the Mexican Senate Fisheries Committee convened Upper Gulf stakeholders to provide a platform for discussion of the critical issues at hand.
We commend both governments for understanding the urgency and importance of these issues, and for announcing efforts focused on fisheries gear improvements. However, these actions alone are not enough. What’s most important is to end the illegal poaching of totoaba. As long as poaching continues, vaquita continue to risk death as a result of entanglement in totoaba nets and further, the already depleted totoaba population will continue to decline. Read More
Photo: Alexis Rife
Cozumel, Mexico might be better known for its diving and tourism, but it’s also home to some of the most successful fishing cooperatives and TURFs in the world. In a recent trip with our partners Rare and the Sustainable Fisheries Group at UCSB, we met with fishing cooperatives from Mexico to learn from these fishers and communities about successful TURF-Reserve models and conditions that have contributed to their success. It was an amazing opportunity to share learnings and experiences cross-country (and truly, around the globe).
First, some background on cooperatives. A cooperative is a group of fishers who communicate about and coordinate their fishing activity to meet their goals. Cooperatives can perform a range of activities, from coordinating fishing activities to participating in co-management, and even marketing their products. Successful cooperatives also sustainably manage their fishery so that the species are healthy and simultaneously provide for sustainable livelihoods for fishers.
Fishing cooperatives can be especially critical to sustainable fisheries management, especially in areas where governance is weak. Many cooperatives also invest a portion of their profits in community projects, which increases awareness of the importance of fishing resources as an important source of income and prosperity for the community as a whole. Read More
Photo credit: Carlos Aguilar
2015 looks to be the year Mexico takes significant action to improve the sustainability of its fisheries.
Mexico is the world’s 16th largest fishing nation and one of the globe’s richest in marine biodiversity. The productive waters of both of Mexico's coastlines teem with a wide array of species that sustain commercially important fisheries. These include hundreds of commercially valuable species of finfish, clams, squid, sardines, and tuna that share the waters of the Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean with wildlife such as whales, dolphins, seabirds, and turtles.
This year, Mexico's Federal Fisheries Commission (CONAPESCA) and Federal Fisheries Institute (INAPESCA), are working together with fishing communities and state authorities to implement stronger measures to protect marine biodiversity and ensure sustainable fishing livelihoods. Read More
Belizean fisherman diving for conch and lobster. Photo credit: Jason Houston
More than 90% of the world’s 36 million fishers operate in small-scale fisheries—many of which are in developing countries. From sea to plate, these small-scale fisheries support more than 100 million jobs across the supply chain and produce half of the world’s seafood for local and global markets.
But as the world’s population increases and the demand for seafood rises, the supply for wild caught fish is plummeting. As a result, many small-scale fishing communities face job and food security threats and unfortunately lack access to the tools they need to sustainably manage their fisheries.
Developed by Environmental Defense Fund, a Framework for Integrated Stock and Habitat Evaluation (FISHE) equips fishermen and marine scientists with a swift, low-cost and highly effective method with which to assess and manage fisheries that lack sufficient fishing data. Read More
By Ashley Apel
According to a recent study published in Science, nearly 80% of the world’s catch comes from “data-limited” fisheries. Not surprisingly, research shows that many of these fisheries are facing collapse, jeopardizing the food security of hundreds of millions of people in developing countries who depend on seafood for a majority of their dietary protein.
Historically, fisheries with little data had few science-based management options. But new methods are being continuously developed and used in the field that deliver science-based results, even in the absence of long-term, historical catch data. Since fishery stock assessments can be extremely complex, EDF recently developed a user-friendly, six-step framework as part of an overall guide to Science-Based Management of Data-Limited Fisheries.
The framework outlines a systematic approach that fishery managers can use to conduct quick and relatively inexpensive assessments. The methods allow stakeholders in data-limited fisheries to estimate risks to marine ecosystems, determine vulnerability of a stock to fishing pressure, calculate the level of overfishing, assess the sustainability of the fishery, and establish sustainable fishing targets and other management reference points.
Download the guide on Science-Based Management of Data-Limited Fisheries or download the entire toolkit for fisheries. Feel free to send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of SEPESCA – Baja California
Last week I had the pleasure of accompanying senior fisheries officials from four Mexican states to Southern California, where they met with fishermen, seafood processors and members of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). As they establish and reinforce their own fishery management systems and structures, this trip was a chance for Mexican officials to see firsthand a well-established system that has evolved for decades – and generally succeeds – through broad-based stakeholder participation and a commitment to transparency.
In 2007 the four states with Gulf of California coastlines – Sonora, Sinaloa, Baja California and Baja California Sur – were mandated by the new Mexican Fisheries Law to establish fishery management structures. Some are further along than others, but each face daunting challenges; Limited manpower and finances, little governing infrastructure and minimal baseline scientific data that are so critical to fishery management.
Although I don’t presume to speak for the individual fishery leaders, I think it’s safe to say that this trip was a success. Based on our conversations, here are some of the concepts that made the strongest impressions on them during the visit: Read More