Establishment of a Network of Fishing Refuges in María Elena, Quintana Roo

Mesoamerican Coral Reef

Marine Reserves

OBJECTIVE: To recover and protect species of commercial and/or ecological importance inside the marine recovery area, and also outside of the area due to a spillover effect.

In November 30, 2012, eight fishing refuges were established in the community of María Elena, at the request of the Cozumel Cooperative, with the support of COBI and partners from the Kanan Kay alliance.

A team of six fishers was then trained to collect biological data and monitor the fishing refuge. They were trained and certified in autonomous diving and submarine monitoring and techniques to identify species.

Monitoring activities include taking an inventory of ecologically and commercially important fish, corals, key invertebrates and the type of substrate. It is important to note that this methodology was adopted to obtain the necessary indicators for the assessment of fishing refuges.

The divers also monitor mega fauna to learn about shark and ray abundance within and outside refuges. Such monitoring takes place using linear transects, catch-and-release techniques for shark and ray marking, as well as BRUV (Baited Remote Underwater Video). BRUV is an innovative method that consists of placing a camera underwater for an hour.

  • 8 fishing refuges established by decree
  • 1,033  hectares of fishing refuges
  • 18 fishers trained in monitoring
  • 8 work campaigns to carry out monitoring
  • 1 major created for monitoring divers in PADI agency
  • Alianza Kanan Kay
  • MarAlliance
  • OAK Foundation
  • S.C.P.P. Cooperativa Cozumel
  • SUMMIT Foundation
  • Alianza WWF-FCS

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 reporting on fishing refuges and mega fauna monitoring in María Elena
  • Donations and funding for submarine monitoring, marking and submarine video techniques in María Elena
  • Financial consulting on how to create a community savings fund for marine conservation and sustainable fishing that would ensure the long-term financial viability of the project
  • Volunteers with relevant knowledge, skills, or experience
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