Community Marine Recovery Zones in the Island of Natividad, Baja California Sur


Marine Reserves

OBJECTIVE: To recover abalone populations and the general ecosystem through marine recovery zones, and to measure oceanographic variables to better understand how the recovery process works.

In 1996, green abalone (Haliotis fulgens) and pink abalone (H. corrugata) populations dropped drastically in the fishing concession area granted to Sociedad Cooperativa de Producción Pesquera Buzos y Pescadores de la Baja California S.C.L., based on Isla Natividad, Baja California Sur. Local fishers decided to create two no-take areas to recover the populations and increase abalone abundances, while preserving the kelp forest ecosystem.

Since 2005, COBI, Reef Check California and Stanford University have worked in partnership to certify a total of 27 divers from the cooperative to carry out annual biological monitoring (of fish, invertebrates, seabed and seaweed) in the marine recovery zones. After more than 10 years of monitoring, the benefits of the marine recovery zones are clear: reproductive potential has been higher than in other areas, plus, these marine reserves have functioned as larvae exporters to contiguous areas, and have created a buffering zone for hypoxia events (low oxygen in the water).

Meanwhile, Stanford University and COBI installed seven oceanographic sensors to enable the measurement of environmental variables like pH, temperature and oxygen, among others. Fisherwomen of the community were trained to manage, maintain, and retrieve data from these devices. These sensors belong to a larger network of sensors placed throughout the Pacific coast of Baja California. Data provided by this network of sensors has permitted the detection of regional climate phenomena like hypoxia episodes which strongly affect sessile organisms, like the abalone.

Also, COBI has supported the cooperative to compensate for lost income linked to the creation of marine recovery zones, through projects related to ecotourism, scientific tourism, abalone culture and perliculture.

  • 27 community divers
  • 5 monitoring sites
  • 1,000 transects
  • +10 years of continuous submarine monitoring
  • 7 oceanographic sensors to monitor temperature, dissolved oxygen and salinity
  • Center for Ocean Solutions
  • Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada
  • Colegio de la Frontera Sur
  • Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas
  • Fish Wise
  • Hopkins Marine Station
  • Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanológicas
  • Reef Check California
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Santa Cruz
  • Universidad Autónoma de Baja California
  • Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur
Arturo Jesús Hernández Velasco

This project is constantly evolving, and your support is key to making an impact on marine conservation and sustainable fishery. The following list details our current project needs. You can also donate directly to COBI by contacting our donations team: Let’s all do our part!

  • Media interested in highlighting the marine reserves project of Isla Natividad
  • Donations and funding for submarine monitoring and the maintenance of the network of oceanographic sensors
  • Volunteers with relevant knowledge, skills, or experience
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