On the Road to Sustainable Fisheries!

On February 27, 2018, in Hermosillo, Sonora, MX, the Intercultural Center for Desert and Ocean Studies (CEDO) and fisheries authorities from the Mexican National Commission of Agriculture and Fisheries (CONAPESCA) and National Institution for Fisheries and Aquaculture (INAPESCA), met with Sonoran fishermen to seal their commitment to fishing sustainably in a region known as the “Puerto Peñasco to Puerto Lobos Biological and Fisheries Corridor.” This is a leap forward for the sustainable use of natural resources and ecosystem services in the upper Gulf of California, which has been infamous for the inter-sector challenges and conflicts associated with preventing the extinction of the vaquita marina (Phocoena sinus) and lucrative, illegal fishery for the endangered totoaba, of which the vaquita is collateral damage. Without ignoring this difficult situation, CEDO has moved its focus towards an area that years ago reached out for help in order to establish an ordered, equitable and sustainable artisanal fishing industry.

The Biological and Fisheries Corridor (outlined by the black line) is interconnected by biological and oceanographic processes, as well as by socio-economic and familiar ties. Its habitats, species and human communities can be considered a manageable “ecosystem”.

Participants at the meeting included municipal, state, and federal government officials, environmental and academic organizations, and artisanal fishermen representing six fishing communities including Puerto Penasco, Bahia San Jorge, Santo Tomas, Desemboque, and Puerto Lobos. All parties agreed to formalize the Corridor as a special area for the integrated management of coastal fisheries and the habitats that sustain them.

Representatives of a much larger initiative that is the Corridor Program take a group picture in Hermosillo, Sonora, MX. (Photo by Socorro Gonzales).

Tens of thousands of artisanal fishermen depend on the highly productive waters of the Corridor ecosystem, which sustains more than 50 commercial species, including crab, snail, elasmobranchs, and scale fish. For the past three years these communities have been compiling, analyzing and building consensus for establishing a network of Fisheries Refuge Zones, community-based management areas, catch-quotas, and permits that strengthen fishing rights and keep extraction at sustainable levels.

Small scale fishermen at work in Puerto Lobos, Caborca, MX (Photo from CEDO archives).

CEDO, a Tucson and Puerto Peñasco based environmental non-profit organization working in the region for the past 38 years, has succeeded in engaging small scale fishermen with scientists and decision-makers in order to find reasonable solutions to the complex problems that surround this chaotic industry. In contrast to the top-down approach taken in the upper northern Gulf to prevent vaquita mortality, the Corridor Program focuses on buffering the primary economic activity currently sustaining local communities: Fishing.

It is now clearer than ever to the fishermen of the Corridor that sustainable and resilient fisheries require a healthy and productive environment (Photo from CEDO archives).

The Corridor Program builds on fishermen’s experiential knowledge, fine-scale ecosystem and species-specific data that fishermen have helped to collect, and good relationships among different sectors, to facilitate a transparent and participatory process known as Coastal-Marine Spatial Planning. In the near future, CEDO hopes to bring other stakeholders into this framework to reduce future conflicts and maintain high standards of environmental and community well-being. CEDO also aims to create clear market incentives that reward fishermen who work according to best management practices, bringing sustainable seafood to communities like Tucson where it is in high demand.

For more information please contact CEDO at info@cedointercultural.org

Participants & Photo gallery:

Biól. José de Jesús Dosal Cruz
Subdirector de Normalización Pesquera, CONAPESCA

Dra. Alma Rosa García Juárez
Directora General INAPESCA, Crip Guaymas

Dra. Jesús Ariaana Castillo Durán
Coordinadora de Investigación, INAPESCA

Dra. Patricia Fuentes Mata
Investigación, INAPESCA

M en C Francisco Javier Hoyos Chairez
Instituto de Acuacultura del Estado de Sonora, IAES

M en A Domingo de Jesús Zatarain González
Director del APFF-Islas del Golfo de California-Sonora,
y Encargado del Despacho de la RB-Isla San Pedro Mártir

Almirante CG DEM DDSN
Juan Guillermo Fierro Rocha
Comandante de la Cuarta Región Naval (Guaymas), SEMAR

Capitán de Navío
Roberto Orozco Tocaven

M en C. Magdalena Précoma de la Mora
Jefe de Proyecto, COBI

Dr. José Alfredo Arreola Lizárraga

Biol. Leonardo Vázquez-Vera
The Nature Conservancy

Lic. Ernesto Bolado Martínez
Director SuMar-Voces por la Naturaleza A.C.

Ing. Hermenegildo Ramírez López
Subdelegación de Pesca en el Estado de Sonora

LAET. Martín Alberto Ramírez Plazola
Coordinador de Turismo Municipal, Municipio de Caborca

Carlos Bonillas Palacio
Consejero Asuntos Pesqueros Municipio de Puerto Peñasco

Manuel de Jesús Múñoz Espinoza
GIR – Bahía San Jorge

Francisco Rendón Miranda
GIR – Desemboque de Caborca

María Encarnación Adame González
GIR – Desemboque de Caborca

Irma Quezada Herrera
GIR – Desemboque de Caborca

Rigoberto Gámez Ramírez
GIR – Santo Tomás

Finley Favela López
GIR – Santo Tomás

Andrés Gutiérrez Martínez
GIR – Puerto Lobos

Rey Oliver Gutiérrez Martínez
GIR – Puerto Lobos

Ernesto Alonso Gastelum

GIR – Puerto Peñasco