Guidelines for the Design and Effective Management of Marine Recovery Zones in Mexico

Public Policy

OBJECTIVE: To combine the best scientific information available with local knowledge in order to identify a set of biophysical, socioeconomic and governing guidelines which can be used for the design and effective management of marine recovery zones in Mexico.

There is a broad range of management instruments in Mexico that can help with the protection and sustainable use of the country’s natural capital. One of these tools is the creation of marine recovery zones (also known as marine reserves, fishery refuge reserves or no-fishing zones). Marine recovery zones are defined as marine areas that are geographically delineated, where some or all extraction of fishery resources is forbidden, and activities that damage the ecosystem are also prohibited. Marine recovery zones aim to recover focal species and restore marine biodiversity within and outside these zones. These zones help us meet multiple goals related to fisheries management, biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, and human wellness.

COBI works to make sure these zones are defined and agreed upon by fishers, authorities, academia, the industrial sector and other key stakeholders (like the tourism sector, where applicable). Depending on the interests of the stakeholders, a voluntary no-fishing agreement can be formalized through fishery legislation instruments. In Mexico, there are two ways to do this:

1) fishery refuges administered by the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fishing through its technical branch, The National Fisheries Institute, and

2) nucleus zones of protected wildlife areas managed by the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas

COBI seeks to promote and raise awareness about these legal tools in the three priority areas where we operate: The Kelp Forest (North Pacific), the Rocky Reef in the Gulf of California, and the Mesoamerican Coral Reef. To this effect, COBI, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, is developing comprehensive guidelines for the design and effective management of these recovery zones that will address biophysical, socio-economical and governing issues. It is important to note that the four countries that form part of the Mesoamerican Coral Reef (Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras) are all participating in the process of creating these guidelines.

The three types of guidelines include:

–               Biophysical guidelines for achieving biological goals, taking into account biological and physical processes

–               Socioeconomic guidelines which consider social, economic, cultural, legal and political issues

–               Governing guidelines about structures, institutions and formal and informal processes for the sustainable use of the environment

In 2015, we started to define and adapt the biophysical guidelines for the design of marine recovery zones in the Rocky Coral Reef of the Gulf of California. In 2016, the same process was carried out for the Mesoamerican Coral Reef, based on previously published scientific papers. That same year, we started the process of adapting the socioeconomic and governing guidelines for the region of the Gulf of California. In 2017, COBI began the same task for the three types of guidelines in the Kelp Forest. COBI and our partners develop these guidelines through participatory, transparent and inclusive processes with government agencies, civil society organizations, academics and direct users of marine resources. The goal is to establish academically robust guidelines that are also practical and applicable in each region. At the same time, COBI and our regional partners draft and disseminate materials summarizing the outcomes of these processes for different audiences, in order to encourage people involved in the sector to implement the guidelines.

  • 3 ecosystems reached
  • 4 countries involved in creating guidelines for the Mesoamerican Coral Reef
  • +100 Participants in the workshops for developing guidelines for the 3 ecosystems
  • Administración Nacional Oceánica y Atmosférica (NOAA por sus siglas en inglés)
  • Alianza Kanan Kay, A.C.
  • Alianza de Derecho Ambiental y Agua
  • Amigos de Sian Ka’an
  • Centro de Estudios Marinos
  • Centro de Excelencia ARC para el estudio de arrecifes de coral, Universidad James Cook
  • Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados, Unidad Mérida
  • Centro Intercultural de Estudios de Desiertos y Océanos, A.C.
  • Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas, Instituto Politécnico Nacional
  • Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas
  • Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas, Parque Nacional Archipiélago de Espíritu Santo
  • Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP)
  • Comisión Nacional de Acuacultura y Pesca (CONAPESCA)
  • Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO)
  • Dirección de Normatividad de la Pesca y Acuacultura, Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería y Alimentación
  • El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Unidad Chetumal
  • Escuela Bren de Ciencias y Gestión Ambiental, Universidad of California, Santa Barbara
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Healthy Reefs Initiative
  • Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University
  • Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Instituto de Conservación Forestal
  • Instituto de Oceanografía SCRIPPS, Universidad de California
  • Instituto Nacional de la Pesca
  • LGL Limited
  • Mar Alliance
  • Mar Fund
  • Noroeste Sustentable, A.C.
  • Perry Institute of Marine Sciences
  • Programa Marino del Golfo de California
  • Pronatura Noroeste, A.C.
  • Razonatura, A.C.
  • Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Sociedad de Historia Natural Niparajá, A.C.
  • SuMar Voces por la Naturaleza, A.C.
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur
  • Universidad de Arizona
  • Universidad de Columbia Británica
  • Universidad de Nueva Inglaterra
  • Universidad de Sonora
  • Universidad Estatal de Arizona
  • Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras
  • Wildlife Conservation Society, Glover’s Reef Research Station
  • World Wild Foundation
Alvin Noé Suárez Castillo

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 guidelines for the creation of no-take areas
  • Donations and funding for the creation and dissemination of guidelines for no-take areas
  • Volunteers with relevant knowledge, skills, or experience
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