Monday, July 13, 2009

Hot News - Commercial Fishing Vigilance Program

A new 'Pescadores vigilantes' program has begun in Baja California Sur in an attempt to put an end to illegal commercial fishing interests (not local hook and line fishermen) in the Sea of Cortez. The program allows anyone to report illegal fishing activities anonymously without fear of retribution, either in person, by phone or via email. The illegal activity will then be published in the La Paz paper - every 20 days - that lists the boats stopped, the denuncias filed, what the authorities have done to date and the final resolution (fines issued).

The program is being funded by Sea Watch and it´s supporters at an estimated $8000 USD per month. Here is some background information provided by Mike McGettigan - founder of SeaWatch.

"We have been very busy starting a civil society sponsored and run vigilance program. It is under the banner of "Plataforma" and is being funded in it's first 90 days of operation by Sea Watch. The group "Plataforma" which Sea Watch helped start is now quite strong and is supported by Mexico's largest NGO's."

"We have always felt you have to start with Vigilance and enforcement. Otherwise you start by setting up marine protected areas, marine parks, sanctuaries, etc. and they immediately become the private fishing grounds of the strongest illegal fishermen. There are fishermen that fight (and pay) to have the rights to fish in the protected areas."

Things are off to a successful start - on the first nocturnal Vigilance program of Plataforma in the Bay of La Paz (June 22-24) they caught 8 boats fishing illegally. The illegal activity will then be published in the La Paz paper as mentioned above.

Mike states, "It will be a score card that forces the authorities to do their job which is to arrest boats fishing illegally and prosecute them."

Good news for Baja and all Sea of Cortez marine life.

Next blog entry - Where & how to report illegal activities.

Molly, author of Viva La Baja! Relocation & Real Estate Guide to the Baja California Peninsula. Available to order at www.vivalabaja.com.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Update on the Million Dollar Plan

I didn´t want to continue writing about Programa Rector Nacional without giving the primary Mexican organization in-charge - CIBNOR - a fair chance of responding and offering information about the program such as what has been accomplished, what is being worked on and what the end goals are. To read a previous background post on the Million Dollar Plan and CIBNOR, click here: The Million Dollar Plan - Who´s In Charge?.

I tried various contacts through their website and was eventually referred to the program called Ecologia Pesquera - supposedly that has folks working on Programa Rector Nacional. The information page on the CIBNOR website in English is located here: Fisheries Ecology. A short email was sent to the director of the program (maybe too short) that now needs a bit of follow-through and possibly a search for additional contacts and sources as I have yet to recieve any reply.

I was just hoping for a little information on how things are going as many are rooting for their success in using these funds to change the disastrous direction of the current state of things (over-fishing creating near-extinct species such as bluefin tuna), create sustainable fisheries laws and protect the future of the Sea of Cortez and all its inhabitants.

As new developments arise I will make new posts. Until then, we can all keep our fingers crossed.

Molly, author of Viva La Baja! Relocation Guide to the Baja California Peninsula, available to order at www.vivalabaja.com.