Thursday June 1, 2023

National Geographic

In the first-ever “before and after” assessment of the impact of establishing Mexico’s Revillagigedo National Park on the fishing industry, a team of US and Mexican researchers found that Mexico’s industrial fishing sector did not incur economic losses five years after the park’s creation despite a full ban on fishing activity within the MPA. 

Established in 2017, the “Galápagos of Mexico” is the world’s 13th-largest MPA, and one of the few where all damaging human activities, including fishing, are banned to help marine populations recover. Home to one of the world’s largest aggregations of sharks and manta rays, as well as tuna, humpback whales and five species of sea turtles, it also shelters more than 300 species of fish, of which 36 are not found anywhere else in the ocean. At the time, the Mexican industrial fishing lobby opposed the creation of the National Park, arguing that it would impact their catches and increase their costs.

“Worldwide, the fishing industry has blocked the establishment of the marine protected areas we urgently need to reverse the human-caused global depletion of sea life. This study uses satellite tracking of fishing vessels and artificial intelligence (AI) to show that the fishing industry’s concerns are unfounded,” said Enric Sala, Explorer in Residence at National Geographic Society, the founder of Pristine Seas and a study co-author. “Even the largest of MPAs, which safeguard entire ecosystems, home to thousands of species of marine creatures, do not impact the handful of fish species that the fishing industry seeks out. The larger the MPA, the larger the benefits.”

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