Network of Recovery Zones in the Midriff Island Region, Gulf of California

Gulf of California Rocky Reef

Marine Reserves

OBJECTIVE: To protect focal species of invertebrates and fish, as well as the critical and unique habitats for their development, and to promote healthy fisheries and ecosystems through a network of recovery zones in the rocky reefs of the Midriff Island Region in the Gulf of California.

The Midriff Island Region is known for its spectacular beauty, diversity and productivity. It is an excellent site for industrial, coastal and sport fishing. Most of the coastal and sport fishing takes place by the coastal rocky reefs of the Baja California and Sonora coasts, and around the 45 islands and islets in the area.

From 2010 to 2011, COBI, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, and Pronatura Noroeste developed a Strategic Conservation and Sustainable Management Plan for this region. Then, from 2013 to 2015, taking this plan into account, we developed the Adapting to Climate Change Program in the Midriff Island Region, with the participation of other partners.

This program identified 15 conservation targets and the ecosystem services they offer, and also developed human wellness objectives. The main threats were also identified: climate change and unsustainable fishery. To address these threats, 15 strategies were developed. One of these strategies is the establishment of marine recovery zones, also known as no-take areas.

From 2013 to 2014, COBI gathered together a group for planning, including government officials in charge of conservation, academics from Mexico and other countries, and civil society organizations. Through a Marxan prioritization analysis, the group would use the best scientific data available – both biophysical and socioeconomic data – to identify the potential spatial configuration of a network of recovery zones in the Midriff Island Region.

The specific objectives of the network are:

–               The mapping of marine biodiversity such as focal invertebrate and fish species (commercial, ecological and/or protected species), main habitats (rocky reef, Rhodolith Layers, sargassum forests, marine pasture, mangroves and wetlands) and special elements (reproduction/invertebrate and fish spawning sites);

–               Socioeconomic considerations: to minimize the economic impact of the restriction of fishing activities in recovery zones.

–               Ecological connectivity: to support the population viability of invertebrates and fish that are important for marine conservation, by forming ties between recovery zones and fishing zones. This is carried out through the transport and collection/export of minimum amounts of larvae.

–               Resilience in the face of climate change: to maintain medium- and long-term benefits by examining the potential effect of events associated with climate change, especially the 2°C temperature rise of the ocean.

From 2014 to 2015, the design of the network was presented to representatives from the industrial fishery, civil society, and government officials on the local, regional and national level (CONANP, CONAPESCA, and INAPESCA) to identify short- or medium-term strategies to promote its implementation.

During this same period, regional representatives from the fishing sector participated in decision-making workshops about resource management, and they were consulted in order to develop a network that was rooted in their interests. Acceptance, viability and interest around the establishment of the network was gauged in all sectors.

From 2015 to 2016, we used the results from different analyses to create a better proposal for the spatial configuration of the network of recovery zones. The proposal was presented to the representatives of different stakeholders that are active and/or have jurisdiction in the Midriff Island Region to determine next steps for their implementation over the next few years. In 2017, the critical path to establish the network of marine recovery zones is being executed.

  • 32 representatives of government agencies consulted
  • 8 civil society organizations consulted8 foundations consulted
  • 4 representatives from the industrial fishery sector consulted
  • 132 representatives from coastal fishery sector consulted
  • 113 recovery zones included in the network proposal
  • 448 km2 of recovery zones included in the network proposal
  • Administración Nacional Oceánica y Atmosférica
  • Alianza WWF – Fundación Carlos Slim
  • Centro de Excelencia ARC
  • Centro Intercultural de Estudios de Desiertos y Océanos, A.C.
  • Colegio Queens, Universidad de la Ciudad de Nueva York
  • Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad
  • Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas
  • Comisión Nacional de Acuacultura y Pesca
  • David & Lucile Packard Foundation
  • Instituto de Oceanografía SCRIPPS
  • Marisla Foundation
  • Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo
  • Programa Marino del Golfo de California
  • Pronatura Noroeste, A.C.
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur
  • Universidad Charles Darwin
  • Universidad de Arizona
  • Universidad de Arizona
  • Universidad de Queensland
  • Universidad Estatal de Arizona
  • Universidad James Cook
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 reporting on the recovery zones in the Midriff Island Region
  • Donations and funding for the implementation, dissemination and monitoring of the network of recovery zones in the Midriff Island Region
  • Volunteers with relevant knowledge, skills, or experience
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