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Local Fishermen Lead Marine Conservation

In the Gulf of California's Bahia de Kino, WWF in collaboration with the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (CONANP) and Comunidad y Biodiversidad A.C. (COBI A.C.), a local environmental organization, works with local fishermen to establish sustainable fishing practices in the San Pedro Martir Island Biosphere Reserve. The reserve harbors an array of marine animals such as brown and blue-footed boobies, and is also home to one of the Gulf of California's largest sea lion colonies.

In Bahia de Kino, small-scale fishermen working off local beaches account for almost half of the community's economic production. Before the reserve was created in 2002, the economy was suffering from the effects of unsustainable fishing practices. Groupers and other top predators needed to maintain a balanced ecosystem were in decline, prompting a rise in the number of bottom-feeding sea urchins, which further distorted the delicate web of life in the reserve and negatively impacted livelihoods.

WWF and our partners joined with the Bahia de Kino fishermen to address the area's growing conservation and livelihood concerns. To harness their knowledge of the region and provide incentives for continued collaboration, local fishermen were involved in the planning and establishment of the reserve and were given rights to preferential use of the marine resources in its buffer zone. The fishermen are helping create a community fishing management system to determine access to the reserve and ensure sustainable practices that benefit both people and nature in the long term. Because of this partnership, local fishermen will be able to depend on a bountiful catch within the reserve, even with other sites returning poor yields.