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Sea Watch: 2015 in Review
The year began with a Sea Watch sponsored fishing regulation banning compressed air for all fish extraction nationwide becoming the law of the land. This now illegal technique has destroyed most of the reef fish and reefs in the sea of Cortes over the last 15 years (See: Barren Reefs ). This new regulation rejuvenated a very successful vigilance program Sea Watch introduced with strong local support in 2009. By 2011 this program had stopped over 80% of the illegal fishing but over the last two years has suffered from lack of support and sanctions from fisheries authorities. With the new law in hand Sea Watch set out to create public support for stopping these destructive activites that continue to severally impact the Marine Park at Espiritu Santo Island (See: Espiritu Santo marine park in trouble). We will start 2016 with the clear goal of making, with public support, the “The Marine Park at Espiritu Santo Island” the next Cabo Pulmo, which is currently the only successful marine park in the Sea of Cortes.
Our original focus for success, our guiding light, is this:
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.
This is what we decided years ago and it is more true than ever today.
In 2015, we were finally able to get Federal legislation passed that prohibits commercial fishing with hookah or any other compressed air. Sea Watch Director, Maria Ugarte, introduced the legislation in 2009 and it took until January 21, 2015 to get it published in the Diario Oficial, making it the law of the land. The use of hookah or any form of compressed air is now illegal for any fish extraction in all Mexican waters.These compressed air techniques have destroyed the majority of reef fish in the Sea of Cortes over the last 15-20 years. The La Paz Bay was losing 20 tons of reef fish a day 15 years ago. This legislation will be a maor tool to reverse this process. (See: Barren Reefs )
The vigilance program Observatorio Ciudadano (Citizen Observers) was initiated by Sea Watch and introduced in 2009 with strong local partners. While very successful in its first two years, stopping over 80% of the illegal fishing in the La Paz area (See: OC stops illegal fishing) it became less effective in the last 2 years due to a lack of support and sanctions by the fisheries authorities. This forced us to rethink our approach and to develop methods of communication with the local community and get their help in pressuring Conapesca authorities to do their job and to overtly condemn illegal and destructive fishing practices.
This includes redoing our online presence (seawatch.org) and social media presence on Facebook. We are engaging the local people and getting their help to preserve their sea and the beautiful Espiritu Santo Marine Park in the Bay of La Paz (Espiritu Santo Marine Park in trouble) It is our goal to help make the Marine Park at Espiritu Santo the next Cabo Pulmo, which is the only truly successful marine park in the Sea of Cortes. First proposed by Sea Watch 5 years ago the idea is now a focus of several prominent local NGO’s.
In 2015 Sea Watch supported the following groups that work in the Bay of La Paz on projects that protect its’ resources and communicate with the public to get their support:Seawatch supported projects
This statement made to me in 1982 by Paul Armond, the then Director of the French project in Puerto Escondido has never been more true and has helped set our course for involving the public in 2016 , “No ecological problem will ever be solved until it becomes a political problem and it will never become a political problem until public opinion demands it”.
Mike McGettigan – Founder