Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New Crime Alert Issued For Baja

I would rather be writing about fish... but crime seems to be a central issue currently in the Baja California Peninsula. Two previous blog entries on crime & safety are:

1. Safety in the Baja & What is the Risk of Travel
2. Men in Black - Who are These Masked Men in Baja?

On April 14th, 2008 the U.S. Department of State issued a new travel alert for the Baja California Peninsula, set to expire in October, 2008. The travel warning describes current happenings along the U.S. - Mexico Border such as:

** violent criminal activity between criminal organizations struggling for control of the narcotics trade

** confrontations between Mexican army and police forces against heavily armed drug cartels using machine guns and fragmentation grenades

** an increase of armed robberies and carjackings, "apparently unconnected to the narcotics-related violence" in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez

The article states, "Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007". Americans have been the victims of crimes but the majority of victims are Mexican, and the alert states that there is no evidence U.S. citizens are being targeted due to their nationality.

Crime may be on the rise in southern Baja as well, with recent armed robberies occurring in La Paz and the Todos Santos area. Residents are urged to keep doors and gates locked at all times. In the central Baja area, Mulege had an armed hijacking of an airplane at The Serenidad airstrip. The military have been sent to patrol the area.

Caution and common sense seems to be the name of the game for travelers to the Peninsula at present time - heed the advice of the U.S. Department of State and others; never travel at night, avoid the Tijuana-U.S. Border if driving and use the Tecate border instead, do not travel to or camp in remote locations, visit only legitimate businesses and tourist areas (that exclude brothels and cantinas), be extra alert to your surroundings, avoid traveling alone and displaying obvious signs of wealth (expensive jewelry, wads of cash, etc.).

Anyone and everyone who cares about the Peninsula can only hope that the situation eventually gets under better control.

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

Friday, April 18, 2008

Can Mexico follow in Peru´s Footsteps & Preserve Their Sportfishing Industry?

For fish farms to be a viable alternative to NOM-029 Mexico must stop much of the commercial fishing that is currently destroying the Sea of Cortez and it´s vast number of inhabitants. Peru dealt with a similar threat to it´s sportfishing industry and ocean environs, and has now taken the necessary steps to sustain the industry and support efforts at ocean conservation.

In conjunction with The Billfish Foundation Peru recently issued a presidential order that decommercializes the harvest and sale of marlins and sailfish. For more infomation read the online article: TBF Assists a Nation's President Set a New Standard for Billfish Conservation.

Can Mexico follow suit? Stop commercial fishing of sought-after sushi plate succulents and provide the supply by sustainable fish farms instead?

Mexico could partner with Japan - the main purchasers of fish from the seas of Baja - and make it illegal for Japanese businesses to buy commercially-caught fish from the Sea of Cortez. Japan could assist in the development of fish farms to meet their demand for supply, in partnership with Mexico. Japan and Mexico are familiar business partners already - with joint-ownership of the Exportadora de Sal (ESSA saltworks) outside of Guerrero Negro by Mitsubishi and Mexican government.

Fish farms are not a problem-free solution, but a viable alternative to meet the demand for fish - demand that is not going to go away but is predicted to increase annually. At least fish farms could target the intended species for sale such as Bluefin Tuna, rather than destructive fishing practices that incidentally kill thousands of forms of sea life in great numbers in pursuit of it.

Peru is setting an example for all of the world, that Mexico and other countries should strive to imitate.

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

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sustainable Fish Farms in Baja

Mexico could be a world leader in sustainable fish farms, attracting scientists and researchers around the world in collaborative projects. Instead of a `Nautical Highway` currently being promoted by the Baja California State Tourism Secretariat to give wealthy yacht-owners stop-overs on their way up and down the peninsula and create a 80-mile overland road linking ocean (at Santa Rosalillita) to sea (at Bahia de los Angeles) -- how about a Fish Farm Industry that is world-reknown?

A good background article on the proposed Nautical Highway is this one by National Geographic: Can Mexico's Wild Baja California Endure New Marinas?

Creating sustainable fish farms would protect the vast natural wealth of the Peninsula, instead of pandering to the wealthy. Instead of 22 ports, how about 10 ports (or none) and 12 Fish Farms? Spend some of the 222 million starter-funds on a project that will help to preserve the environment of the Baja California Peninsula, not denegrate it.

In 2004, 43% of the global fish supply came from farmed sources, and the percentage increases annually. An opportunity for Mexican commercial and local fisherman, with support from government, to enter a market that will make good profit, supply demand coming from Japan & elsewhere, and keep the fish flowing for future generations of Baja inhabitants, sportfishing enthusiasts and tourists. Without the fish, what will Baja become?

Promote and create Fish Farms before it becomes a necessity -- due to destructive fishing practices decimating fish populations. Create new business opportunities for Mexican entreprenuers while preserving the already world-reknown sportfishing industry that attacts millions of visitors annually. Yachters like to fish too.

From the Marine Conservation Society (UK) website here is an article entitled Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Fish Farming.

A major problem with fish farming - even closed-systems not using wild-caught fish for stock - is the food source they must be given to survive, can cause negative secondary effects for that marine species. Sacrificing a non-edible species, for farmed species raised for human consumption is not a sustainable, non-destructive environmental solution. It also affects other species, such as the wildlife that relys on that food source for survival, birds, etc. Scientists from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) have made inroads to providing a solution - New breakthrough in sustainable fish farming and others are studying the issue as well.

One of many offering consulting services for all phases of fish farming development, management and production is Fisheries Technology Associates, Inc. located in Colorado.

The resources available on the Web are almost endless, and the Peninsula is home to The University of Baja California, College of Marine Science and the Institute for Oceanographic Investigation. Campuses are located in Mexicali (main campus), Ensenada, Tijuana, San Felipe, Tecate, San Quintin and La Paz.

For next weeks blog, I will see if I can complete an interview with a local Baja Oceanographer or marine scientist. Molly, author of Viva La Baja! Relocation Guide to the Baja California Peninsula