What's Killing the Sea of Cortes and how can we stop it?

Current threats placing the future of this once pristine sea in jeopardy and solutions for restoration

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Isla Espiritu Santo National Marine Park - in big trouble

As a world heritage site and marine protected area it’s still a private fishing ground for illegal fishermen.

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Revillagigedo Islands still under constant threat.

Where there are fish someone will be there to catch them without vigilance. Analysis of current vigilance at these ecologically important Islands

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Observatorio Ciudadano (ROC) deserves your support.

Authorized by CONANP, a unique Public Vigilance Network critical to the success of the Espiritu Santo Marine Park.

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Mike has been diving the Sea of Cortes for 42 years on four boats. his story can be found here Mike's story

Mike McGettigan, Sea Watch Founder, has been diving and fishing the Sea of Cortes and the Revillagigedo Islands for 42 years on his boats. He has logged over 350,000 nautical miles in these waters and made over 150 trips to the Revillagigedo Islands starting in 1977 when you had to use a sextant to navigate there. His activist history in the Sea of Cortes can be found here. Mike’s story

Dear Friends of the Sea:

Sea Watch was founded in 1993, by a group of people concerned with the rapidly declining fish populations in the Sea of Cortes, on the strong belief that:

Depleted fisheries can only recover if there are clear regulations designed to stop predatory fishing practices, there is vigilance, the regulations are enforced evenly and thus a respect for them is developed within the public and fishing communities.

Our work was and is focused in the following areas. We limit our mission to easily understandable (clear) and achievable goals and that there be an easy way to measure success.

Clear and transparent fishing regulations: Current fisheries law is purposely ambiguous, that allows local Conapesca offices interpretation and control. Sea Watch, Director and attorney Maria Ugarte, in 2009 sponsored and got a new federal regulation in Norma 064 passed prohibiting the use of hookah or any source of compressed air for fish extraction. While in effect since 2009 in BCS it took the Federal Government until Feb. 2015 to publish it in the DOF page 62. No compressed air for fish extraction

Vigilance: Unless there is a presence to let illegal fishermen know they are being watched and will be sanctioned, only the illegal fishermen will prevail. Without vigilance every marine park built just becomes the private fishing grounds of the strongest and most aggressive fishermen. Sea Watch Director Maria Ugarte with other local NGO’s founded the successful OC (Citizen Observers) in 2009 The year of the returning fish

Enforcement: Without sanctions there can be no success! Sanctions can come from authorities, the public and from peers. If the public gets involved with vigilance, their voice will move authorities to do their job. OC has filed over 30 legal denuncias (legal complaints) against illegal fishing with authorities and has followed up to make sure there are results. Sea Watch has also been working with Televisa and Armando Figaredo since 1994 to publize illegal fishing activities to the public and get their help in condeming illegal activities like pistoleando and encerrando fish.

Develop respect for the law: within the public and fishing communities by enforcing the laws (regulations) evenly, fairly and measuring success by increased fish populations and healthier reefs. This is what will build respect.

Measuring success:

  1. More fish on the reefs around La Paz.
  2. Less pistolero shot fish in the markets. Parrotfish are a marker species as they can only be caught illegally and often are the most abundant fish in the markets.
  3. A effective public vigilance program that helps officials do their job.
  4. Public campaigns to get the citizens involved, made aware and get their help pushing authorities to do their jobs and fishermen to respect the laws.
  5. Laws and regulations are changed at the national level
  6. Increased inspections of the fish markets and wholesale warehouses.

Mike McGettigan, Founder Seawatch




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