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#413875 - 08/14/11 02:07 PM Rebirth of a Mexican Marine Park
Maya House Offline

The Cabo Pulmo National Park in Mexico's Gulf of California imposed a ban on fishing and other extractive activities 15 years ago, and since then, the total mass of its residents has increased five times the amount, a new study revealed.

According to the study, which was conducted by researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego from 1999 to 2009, the total number of fish in the reserve ecosystem increased over 460 percent with 10 years. Researchers published the findings of the study in the Public Library of Science journal.

It was in 1995 that the Cabo Pulmo National Park was protected to preserve the largest coral community in the Gulf of California. After four years, when researchers checked the marine park, they didn't find so many fishes, except of a few medium-sized ones.

In 2009, researchers again dove into the water of Cabo Pulmo again to monitor the fish population, and were surprised to see that fish biomass at the park increased to 463 percent and the biomass of top predators and carnivores increased by 11 and 4 times, respectively.

Researchers found thousands of large fishes, such as snappers, groupers, trevally, manta rays, and even sharks. However, fish biomass in other marine protected areas or open access areas did not change significantly over the same time period.

"The most striking result is that full, complete recovery of a degraded fish community is possible (when placed in the right area and governed correctly), even to the level that is comparable to remote habitats that never have been impacted by fishing and other local human impacts," researchers stated in the journal.

The increase in fish biomass at Cabo Pulmo within a decade is the largest measured in a marine reserve worldwide. It has also resulted in significant economic benefits, indicating that community-managed marine reserves are a feasible solution to untenable coastal development and fisheries collapse in the Gulf of California and elsewhere.

Comments 4
The no-take reserve at Cabo Pulmo is full of fish schools.

Source: Octavio Aburto
Underwater miracle at Cabo Pulmo, Baja California.

Source: Octavio Aburto
A 1.2-meter-long gulf grouper (Mycteroperca jordani) is among the large predators that have returned to Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park after a fishing ban.

Source: Octavio Aburto/iLCP
A group of bigeye trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus) forms a spawning aggregation. Such populations have returned to the waters of the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park after a fishing ban.

Source: Octavio Aburto/iLCP

(a) groupers, (b) snappers, (c) jacks, and (d) parrotfishes. Photographs were taken in the summers of 2008–2010.

Source: Octavio Aburto

#413880 - 08/14/11 06:29 PM Re: Rebirth of a Mexican Marine Park [Re: Maya House]
Bear Offline
The reserve remains under continual pressure from poaching. However the willingness of residents whose homes overlook the reserve to make observations and document boats and provide registration information to the agenices responsible for enforcement allowed them to followup with arrests and substantial fines. This willingness on the part of these agencies to act and follow up on such information is a large part of this success story. In addition dive operators out of Cabo did not see the closure as a penalty for the areas closure to spearfishing but rather a plus in it's burgeoing ecotourism stance. As a result fishing outside the immediate areas of the reserve has improved, not only from our own experiences but also according to the skippers who fish the open areas from their home port of Las Barriles.

#413992 - 08/16/11 11:28 AM Re: Rebirth of a Mexican Marine Park [Re: Maya House]
Maya House Offline
Love the first-hand information. Thanks for posting it, Bear!

#414025 - 08/16/11 04:56 PM Re: Rebirth of a Mexican Marine Park [Re: Maya House]
Bear Offline
Last we were there I was given to understand from one of the local skippers that one fish species in particular has taken up residency on the Cabo Pulmo reef which, according to him, signals an improvemnt in overall conditions. Some very nice, very large, Tiger shark. Apprently they're quite the attraction for divers when they can find him/her.


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