Blue Solution: On Helping Fishermen Reduce Their Impact

MPA News

Editor’s note: In this issue we introduce a new feature, Blue Solution, which draws from case studies compiled by the Blue Solutions initiative. The initiative supports the exchange of successful approaches to marine and coastal conservation and development — sharing what worked where, and why. Each case is authored by a practitioner and is published on the “marine and coastal” portal of the Panorama web platform. Blue Solutions cover MPAs, spatial planning/management, ecosystem services, fisheries, and more. The initiative also provides trainings and other capacity-development opportunities.

Blue Solutions is implemented jointly by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH; GRID-Arendal; IUCN; and UNEP. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).

By jacp [at] conanp.gob.mx (Jorge Antonio Castrejón Pineda), CONANP (adapted by MPA News)

High levels of marine productivity around National Park Isla Isabel — located off Mexico’s west coast — attract fishermen, who have used the park’s 1-km2 island as a temporary campsite for almost 100 years. In recent years, a growing number of fishermen and a lack of regulations on camping increased pressure on the island’s resources. Trees were chopped down for firewood. Native birds and reptiles were exploited. The land was used as an open-air sewer. To make matters worse, conflicts were arising between fishermen and national park operators.

CONANP, Mexico’s national parks agency, initiated a participatory process with the local fishermen to improve management of the camping and surrounding marine area, and to ensure that all activities meet environmental regulations. As a result of that process, exploitation of island resources has stopped, and the placement of 30 ecological latrines has provided much improved waste management. Conflicts between fishermen and park personnel have decreased, and new communication channels and joint processes have been enacted to address new conflicts if they arise.

For park operators, the regulation of camping resulted in improved and more efficient use of resources. For the fishermen, the new camping facilities provide security and convenience.

“With the new management approach, things have become better regulated,” says Juan Dovora, fisherman in Isla Isabel. “This was achieved by the hard work of the staff of the park, of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and of the government. When the management plan was being discussed, we [the fishermen] did not want to miss that opportunity.”

For more information on this case, please visit the Panorama web platform.