Establishment of a Network of Fishing Refuges in the community of Punta Herrero, 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 September 12, 2013, a fishing refuge was established by decree in Punta Herrero, at the request of the José María Azcorra Cooperative and with the support of COBI and several Kanan Kay Alliance partners. 

A team of nine fishers was then trained to collect biological data and assess the operation of the fishing refuge. They were trained and certified in autonomous diving, submarine monitoring techniques, and identification of 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.

They 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.

The divers also monitor reproductive aggregation sites. This monitoring consists of finding sites where species that are commercially and ecologically important, like groupers and snappers, are added once or twice a year, during certain lunar phases, to carry out reproduction. During these events, large numbers of organisms from the same species are concentrated in a rather small area. Some places could be used multiple times by different species throughout the year, so it is important to preserve these sites.

In some cases, reproductive aggregations can be subject to overfishing, as they allow for important captures with reduced effort. However, all monitoring activities coordinated by COBI are carried out by Azcorra cooperative fishers trained in the area, thus ensuring the protection and sustainable use of the species.

  • 4 fishing refuges established by decree
  • 1,125 hectares of fishing refuge
  • 22 trained fishers to be monitoring divers
  • 15 work campaigns to execute monitoring
  • 2 specialties created for monitoring divers at PADI agency
  • 7 commercial important species identified that aggregated to spawn in the zone
  • Alianza Kanan Kay
  • MarAlliance
  • OAK
  • S.C.P.P. Cooperativa José María Azcorra

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, mega fauna monitoring, and the protection of reproductive aggregation sites in Punta Herrero
  • Donations and funding for submarine monitoring, marking, and submarine video techniques in Punta Herrero
  • 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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