The Pescadores Y Tiburones program aims to involve the artisanal fishing communities of the Gulf of California and Pacific Coast of Baja in the movement for sustainable fishing of sharks before it is too late.
The overall goal of the program is to foster a conservation ethic within shark fishing communities that will move these communities towards a sustainable shark fishery. The program creates collaborative efforts between scientists, policy makers, law enforcement, and the local fishing communities to promote sustainable fishing of sharks and rays in Mexico. In Mexico, shark fisheries must be managed on a sustainable basis if they are to continue providing a source of food, employment and heritage to local communities. It is essential that we encourage community involvement in our conservation efforts, and thereby, achieve broad ownership of conservation decisions among those communities who most depend on this precarious resource for their livelihood.
This program focuses conservation efforts on the following methods and components:
Creation of a community based network of artisanal fishers
The program unites fishers and other stakeholders in a conservation network that benefits all involved in dealing with shark conservation issues. Fishers from shark fishing communities all over Baja California, scientists and government agencies all form this network.
Foster regional management of sharks and rays
Shark and ray fisheries management in Bahia Magdalena region: In 2009, Iemanya joined the Allianza Para la Conservacion de Bahia Magdalena, an alliance of 9 NGOs (Niparaja, Pronatura Noroeste, COBI, WWF, Grupo Tortuguero, Isla, Vigilantes de Magdalena, and Escuela de Estudios de Campo, Enviromental Defense Fund) working in the Bahia Magdalena region to involve fishing communities and authorities in actively promoting conservation and resource management in Bahia Magdalena. The campaign recruits fisher leaders within the region to be a part of the alliance and participate in decision-making (for example: modifications to the NOM029, Issues relating to the creation of the Reserva de la Biosphera Islas del Pacifico, etc.) and to implement legal tools, such as marine protected areas, fisheries management plans, etc.
Shark and ray fisheries management in the Marine Corridor Agua Verde-Punta Coyote, Baja California Sur: Iemanya, in partnership with Niparajá and Pronatura Noroeste, has put together a plan to create a Fisheries Regulation Program in the marine corridor that includes 14 communities in the East Coast of Baja California Sur. Together with the delegation of CONAPESCA (Comisión Nacional de Pesca y Acuacultura National Fisheries and Aquaculture Commission) we will be creating improved regulatory measures for the corridor. Fishers of the region have taken the initiative to create areas closed to fishing to help recover overfished stocks and have proposed over 40 critical zones they would be willing to close to fishing. In 2010, Iemanya will be working with the artisanal fishers in the Marine Corridor and the authorities to create management agreements for the shark fisheries in which they abide by legal standards, laws and permitting, as well as work to implement a system of enforcement within the marine corridor.
Development of alternative economic activities and sources of income
Iemanya's pilot program to develop micro-businesses in shark fishing communities has shown great success. As of 2010, four businesses have been established and are operational, including a nursery, a sport fishing business, a bed and breakfast, and a cement block "factory." Iemanya is directly involved in providing startup capital, business development and training to the fisher candidates selected for this program.
Shark and ray outreach
Implementing a strong social marketing campaign for shark conservation paired with the development of alternatives to fishing is crucial to gain fishers’ buy-in into shark conservation in Mexico. Our educational campaigns include distribution of fact sheets, posters, stickers, mass marketing techniques (TV/radio appearances, newspaper editorial, billboards, campaign songs, music videos, etc.), school presentations, community festivals, sermons and puppet shows. Our shark festivals are a huge hit, including shark and ray arts & crafts, games, food, contests, conservation booths, exhibits and audiovisual presentations, as well as major sponsors and large-scale media coverage.
Community involvement in shark and ray research
Involving fishers in research creates a sense of ownership and empowers the largely disenfranchised local fishing communities in Mexico. Currently, there are no existing catch records by species in Mexico and Iemanya is working with fishers to collet data for most target species throughout the Eastern Pacific. This data will help authorities make better management decisions. As our fishers participate in data collection, they become strong advocates of shark conservation.