Recovery, management and sustainability of fisheries – El Sol de México

Fisheries are substantially different from other major food production systems in the world (eg agriculture): the volume of fishing is unpredictable because it depends on the capture of wild organisms in an uncontrolled environment; In this way, the challenge of estimating the appropriate levels of sustainable extraction, which change over time, is faced. In this system, the burden of responsibility for ensuring the highest possible long-term production falls primarily on the scientific management of marine resources.

The Northwest of Mexico is the most important fishing region in the country, both in catch volumes and in wealth generation. The region has the most developed industrial fisheries in the country (eg shrimp, tuna, sardine), and the largest sport, deep-sea and coastal fishing fleets. Sonora, Sinaloa, Baja California, Baja California Sur and Nayarit contribute more than 82% of the total volume of national fishing catch.

This development has caused a series of internal problems in the sector, such as oversizing of fleets, social conflicts over access to resources, overexploitation and low economic performance, which are combined with external factors such as the growing demand for sustainability certification for companies. exports of seafood, and the various forms of environmental modifications.

In response to this problem, strategic line 5: Recovery, management and sustainability of fisheries, is identified with the mission of investigating the basic biology of the organisms that are captured, the dynamics of the environments where they live and the different components of the fishing system, to contribute with robust technical information, both to decision-making by the authority fishing, as well as investment planning and development strategies of the productive sector.

Some contributions of the line in recent decades are the generation of inputs for the development of management instruments, such as the Official Mexican Standard for the siphon clam fishery or the management plan for the olive ridley curvina in the Gulf of California. Recently, support has been given to the international sustainability certification processes for the sardine fisheries of the Gulf of California (Sonora) and crinuda sardine (Sinaloa) before the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), with also impact on Official Mexican Standards, the management plan and the integration of technical sheets for the National Fisheries Charter.

In other areas, they highlight the work carried out between 2005 and 2015 where, with the support of civil society organizations, investigations were carried out that led to the closure of gillnet, gillnet and longline fishing in the Upper Gulf of California. Subsequently, with support from CONAHCYT, the topic was continued to analyze the social impacts of said action. With international scope, there is the advice provided to the governments of Peru and Ecuador on the management of the giant squid and the collaborations as scientific advisors to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on issues such as the sustainability of the shrimp trawling and the effects of El Niño on fishing (Suggested information:

Due to its nature, the line works in coordination with different instances and levels of Government. Requests from the Chamber of Deputies of the Federation have been attended to, such as the preparation of a diagnosis of the social and economic situation and the industrial plant associated with the Sonora crab fishery. Within the framework of an agreement with the Government of the State of Baja California Sur, the National Governing Program Phase 1: Diagnosis and Regional Planning of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Mexico was developed, presenting to the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries an analysis of the situation and problems of fishing and aquaculture at the national and regional level, concluding with a series of strategies and activities to be considered by public policies for the sustainable development of the sector. One of the main results of this study was the formal evaluation, for the first time, of the degree of implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries of the Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Mexico . Since 2022, we have participated in working groups organized by the Senate of the Republic to adapt the Fisheries Law.

It is expected that over time the importance of fishing will grow, both in Mexico and in the rest of the world, at the same time that the challenges derived from the changes that marine systems are undergoing increase. This translates into the need to carry out research focused on the topics that define the strategic line: the recovery, management and sustainability of fisheries. The long-term vision remains to redouble efforts in traditional approaches and increase capacities to generate information through new themes and techniques, such as analysis, mathematical modeling and bioeconomic evaluation of fishing resources, and the incorporation of socioecological approaches, that analyze the ecological, productive and governance interactions on fishing communities, the valuation of ecosystem services and the design of adaptation strategies for the sector to promote its long-term viability.

To meet the staff of the CIBNOR Fisheries Ecology Academic Program (La Paz Unit and Guaymas Unit) go to

Photography: illustrative. Courtesy of the Cibnor Fisheries Ecology Program.

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