Eyes on the Water
May 8, 2017: Citizen observer witnesses illegal netting of inshore reefs at Isla Espiritu Santo, La Paz, BCS, Mexico.
Post includes video at foot of page.
Since 2009, a ban on the netting of inshore reefs that have coral on them was approved by “El Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales” (SEMARNAT) – (translates to “The Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources”). Five years later, the new law was officially published by the government agency in the “Diario Oficial”.
Despite the fact that this law has been in publication for over two years now, bandit fishermen are still netting inshore reefs inhabitated by both hard and soft corals often physically damaging the reefs corals in the process as well as removing keystone reef species, such as parrotfish, that are vital to the overall health of these socioeconomic habitats. Parrotfishes are made up of a group of over 90 species of fishes that collectively play a vital role in keeping the algae on the reefs in balance. They also play a significant role in bioerosion, a process whereby marine animals break down coral, rocks, shells and other hard substrates, forming the sand on the world’s beaches.
On May 8, 2017, Captain Zack Pilak of the vessel “Front Row” witnessed and documented illegal gillnetting on the inshore reef at the Salt Pond, Isla Espiritu Santo. The name of the boat was “Rodriguez XIII” and it was seen stretching a gillnet across the span of the beach. Zack then watched the boat crew pull in their nets before leaving the scene.
Often, the gillnets are stretched over large areas of reef and using noise to create panic, the fish are driven towards the nets. Once the fish come into contact with the gillnet, they are trapped by their gills and become entangled. Gillnets are indiscrimate killers of much marine life including threatened sea turtles, sharks, dophins, whales and sea birds.
Just one day later, another two pangas were seen illegally gillnetting the inshore reefs at Isla San Francisco, Espiritu Santo by Sea Watch in Mexico. They were both Rodriguez boats, Rodriguez VII and the other couldn’t be determined.
Just minutes after the photos were taken, a drone was launched over the scene to obtain the aerial photographs below.
Below is a short video Captain Zack made to share with Sea Watch due his concerns about the unsustainable fishing practises he observed and the detrimental impact such activities will have on the future health of the Sea of Cortez.
Note: In the video, Zack states he saw the fishermen “throwing harpoons at manta rays”. They were actually of the mobula ray genus, close relatives of manta rays, some species of which are listed as either “Near Threatened”, “Vulnerable” or “Endangered” on the Internation Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) redlist of threatened species.
Whilst fishing for mobulas isn’t illegal in Mexican waters, it probably should be given the conservation status of the genus.
Thanks to Captain Zack Pilak for raising awareness about these events.
“Eyes on the Water” is an initiative directed by Espíritu Santo es parte de ti to use the local boating community to report back any illegal or suspicious fishing activities they encounter. If like Zack, you are a concerned boater, guide or tourist that spends time in the waters around La Paz Bay and the Espiritu Santo archipelago, then this initiative needs your help. You can contact us here.
08/May/2017:"Eyes on the Water"Captain Zack Pilak of the vessel "Front Row" witnesses and documents illegal gillnetting on inshore reefs at Isla Espiritu Santo. Here is a short video he made to share with Sea Watch due his concerns about the unsustainable fishing practises he observed and the detrimental impact such activities will have on the future health of the Sea of Cortez.Zack states he saw the fishermen "throwing harpoons at manta rays". They were actually of the mobula ray genus, close relatives of manta rays, some species of which are listed as either "Near Threatened", "Vulnerable" or "Endangered" on the Internation Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN's) redlist of threatened species.A full post is in progress and will be published shortly.Thanks to Captain Zack Pilak for raising awareness about these events."Eyes on the Water" is an initiative directed by Espíritu Santo es parte de ti to use the local boating community to report back any illegal or suspicious fishing activities they encounter.Sea Watch in Mexico Sea Watch en México Espíritu Santo es parte de tiEspiritu Santo Archipelago – The next Cabo Pulmo ROC – La Paz Waterkeeper
Posted by Sea Watch in Mexico on Thursday, May 25, 2017
How you can help
There are several ways that you can help us to secure a healthy future for the Espiritu Santo Archipelago.
Think about what you consume from the ocean
In particular, consider avoiding species of fishes that directly maintain the health of the reefs by grazing on algae while keeping it in natural balance with the ecosystem. These include parrotfish and surgeon fish.
Report any illegal or suspicious activities
Ecotourism captains and guides and general boaters are a great tool in the fight against illegal fishing practices. If you encounter any activities that you believe to be illegal or suspicious, try to obtain photographic and/or video evidence of the acts. Attempt to capture recognizible landmarks in the frame so there is no doubt as to where the activities were observed and also record the GPS coordinates. You can send the information to RED Observatorio Ciudadano or to us here at Sea Watch and we will ensure it goes through the proper channels.
Donate to our cause
By donating to Sea Watch, you can directly contribute to the great awareness work of Espiritu Santo es Parte de Ti or the highly effective vigilance efforts of RED Observatorio Ciudadano. You can donate by credit/debit card, Paypal or by sending a cheque to our registered mailing address. Visit our donate page for more details by clicking the donate button.