Establishment of a Fishing Refuge Zone in Puerto Libertad, Sonora

Gulf of California Rocky Reef

Marine Reserves

OBJECTIVE: To combine local and scientific knowledge in order to effectively design, establish and monitor a fishing refuge zone in Puerto Libertad, Sonora.

Marine ecosystems and the services they provide are affected by several stress factors. Worldwide, no-take areas have been recognized as an effective instrument for fisheries management and biodiversity conservation. These areas improve the ecosystem’s health and resilience as they face the impact of climate change.

In 2012, the Fishing and Aquaculture Committee of Puerto Libertad, Sonora, was established after years of collective efforts by fishers, government and civil society organizations. Together, they identified management objectives for the zone of Puerto Libertad, taking into account the interests, concerns and fundamental values of everyone involved.

In particular, they established a no-take area in Puerto Libertad in order to conserve and recover species of commercial interest, as well as to protect and preserve their habitat. Local producers were very accepting of this proposal, as they consider it a strategy for generating a local and exclusive artisanal fishing zone by restricting industrial fishing activities.

Jointly, this work group carried out a series of actions:

– Presentation of the concept of marine recovery zones and different legal schemes (like fishing refuge zones and nucleus zones within natural protected areas) and local agreements to create them (voluntary marine recovery areas)

– Identification of priority areas for the establishment of marine recovery zones

– Assessment of fishers’ interest in these zones

– Design of alternatives based on the interests of the productive sector

– Establishment of fishing recovery zones

– Process to formalize them as “fishing refuge zones” before the National Aquaculture and Fishing Commission

At the same time, local producers received training in diving and submarine biological monitoring techniques in order to monitor resources and the quality of the habitat. The information collected by the divers will serve as a baseline for monitoring the recovery zone and assessing its effectiveness.

  • 74.76 hectares in total of no-take area
  • +10 participants from different sectors in a local Management Committee
  • 1 fishing refuge zone application submitted to CONAPESCA
  • Alianza WWF-Fundación Carlos Slim
  • Centro Regional de Investigación Pesquera
  • Comision nacional de acuacultura y pesca
  • David & Lucile Packard Foundation
  • Environmental Defense Fund de México
  • Grupo de Monitoreo Submarino y Cambio Climático, S.C. de R.L. de C.V.
  • Red Nacional de Información e Investigación Pesquera y Acuacultura
  • Sociedad Cooperativa Mujeres del Golfo
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Universidad de Duke
  • Universidad de la Columbia Británica
  • Usuarios directos de los recursos de Puerto Libertad, Sonora
Alvin Noé Suárez

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 covering the no-take areas project in Puerto Libertad
  • Donations and funding to support the operation of no-take areas in Puerto Libertad
  • Volunteers with relevant knowledge, skills, or experience


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