Tuesday, March 11, 2008

NOM-029 & Saving the Sea of Cortez

Vicente Fox may be gone from the political scene but hopefully some of his legacy will be revived. Five months after taking office, his presidential successor Felipe Calderon signed NOM-029 into law, a bill that many say legalizes destructive fishing practices in the Sea of Cortez.

Called a conservation catastrophe by The Billfish Foundation, NOM-029-PESCA-2006 is a measure that allows commercial longlining in coastal waters of the Sea of Cortez. Prior to NOM-029, commercial vessels were not allowed to fish for or possess marlin, sailfish, dorado and other protected species within 50 miles of the coastline. Only recreational anglers were allowed to fish in these protected zones.

The bill allows long-line fishing from more than 3,000 skiffs, with 350-hook lines, as close as 10 miles from the shore. Medium-size vessels, up to 233 of them with 1,000-hook lines, and enter the Sea of Cortez for massive catches (and bycatches) as close as 15 miles.

It seems ironic that a bill intending, supposedly, to protect a select few species, allows for activities that are decimating other protected populations of fish in the Sea of Cortez. And decimating they are. Sea Watch observed, filmed, and did the math.

Here is one days worth of destruction by a few commercial fishermen, totaled up (by Sea Watch): “Two boats caught around 400 dorado – 110 hooks and 53 dorado on each of them. Each boat had 5 km of longline with 600 to 700 baited hooks in the water. Multiply these numbers by the numbers of boats fishing and you suddenly have 5,000 to 10,000 small dorado being taken from Baja waters on any given day.”

More information and photographs are posted at the following locations on the Sea Watch website:



NOM-029 may currently be law, but the battle to save the marine life of the Sea of Cortez is hardly over. Laws, especially when counter-productive, can be overturned or amended. The following three paragraphs - quoted from a May, 2007 article in the Los Angeles Times – illustrate both sides of the issue, and why NOM-029 is a misguided attempt to protect species such as Blue and Hammerhead Sharks and the Giant Ray in the Sea of Cortez.

Paragraph #1 “NOM-029 limits fishing pressure through permits and imposes gear and area restrictions designed to ensure sustainability. It bans the capture of certain sharks and rays; phases out of drift gill-nets; and outlaws finning, or slicing fins from sharks and throwing their writhing bodies overboard.”

** Why GreenPeace currently supports the bill **

Paragraphs #2 & #3 “But it does not adequately guard against exploitation of "bycatch" species such as dorado, or mahi-mahi, marlin and sailfish – species that gave rise to sportfishing-related tourism and supposedly are off-limits to commercial fishermen.”

“Long-line hooks do not discriminate. Marlin, sailfish and dorado fetch a higher price than sharks, which are already depleted. So it's reasonable to assume the bycatch species are really what the fishermen are after.”

** Why opponents are doggedly fighting it **

Next weeks blog entry - what you can do to help these and other organizations fighting to overturn NOM-029 and save the Sea of Cortez and all its inhabitants.

Molly, author of Viva La Baja! Relocation Guide to the Baja California Peninsula


Ponga Boy said...

Ponga Boy Needs Big Government
11.09.2009 01:29:58

While all this talk of big Government and the implications
of big Government and its' affects on America's free
market economy is raining down, Ponga Boy asks his
own Mexican Government for help to protect the
Sea of Cortez and all its' enchantment and natural
marine life that has for so long flourished within it.

Ponga Boy wants the Government to overturn NOM - 029
to but an end to the destructive fishing practices that
threatens the marine life, Billfish especially.




Ponga Boy said...

Why isn't there a petition in the US, or if there is one can someone let me know, against Nom-029?

I'm looking for like minded people to join with me to help set up a petition so we can actually get the ball rolling on some constructed lobbying and pressure on the Mexican government. With the vast numbers of avid Sports Fishing enthusiasts in this country who regularly head south to the Baja to hook a Marlin, Dorado or Tuna, and conservation die hards that want change and want it now we can band together to really carry the fight. The Billfish Foundation, Coral Reef Alliance, Oceana, Seawatch, Pro peninsula, Ocean Foundation, please contact me with regard this issue,

Thanks for Listening

Molly aka BajaBad said...

Hi Ponga Boy - there is work being done on NOM-029 and some very exciting new projects such as the Vigilance Program through Plataforma and SeaWatch - view earlier blog post "Hot News - Commercial Fishing Vigilance Program". Here is the link:


Check out www.seawatch.org for more info and TBF website, those are the experts who are in the know and taking action. I´m sure they would love to have your participation and support.