Mexico’s fisheries are a complete mess now what?

Mexico’s fisheries are a complete mess now what?



vaquita gill net
Dead Vaquita from gill netting

Mexico’s fisheries are a complete fucking mess. There is no other way to put it. At the moment I am researching and writing a story on The Billfish Conservation Act but I feel compelled to put out this short post on what has just recently been going on over the last week. Actually compelled might not be the best word, enraged might actually better describe my emotions as I type this.

From the illegal totoaba gill net fishery in the northern gulf, to the gill nets of the pacific side of the baja that are killing logger head turtles, to the illegal long liners working within the 50 mile exclusion zone inside the Gulf of California to the almost extinct Vaquita up were the totoaba come from in San Felipe to the Sadineros who work the coast of Sonora catch what ever the fuck they want and then call what they catch sardines, is there any other way to describe Mexican fisheries other than completemente jodido?

 Just a few weeks ago U.S. customs broke up a multimillion dollar totoaba air bladder smuggling ring, you can’t make this shit up. This black market fishery has almost certainly done in the worlds most endangered cetacean, the vaquita, which is found only in the northern gulf area of the Sea of Cortes. Now if that is not bad enough the illegal gill net fishery on the pacific side of the Baja is now further endangering logger head turtles so much so that a petition (a precursor to an actual law suite) has been filed, against the United States I might add not Mexico,  by  The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) in conjunction with The Sea Turtle Restoration project.

Dead turtles from Mexcio fisheries


The Sea Turtle Restoration Project has filed suit to restrict international fisheries trade between USA and Mexico due to the illegal and unprecedented killings of endangered loggerhead sea turtles in Baja Mexico gillnets. Our press release today urges the Obama administration to take action during their trip to Mexico this week!

Good for them!! I applaud this action. I have a soft spot in my heart for the CBD since I had them essentially convinced way back in 2009 to do exactly the same thing. Only I was not trying to save turtles directly. I was trying to stop the exportation of dorado to the United States. That year around 7000 tons of illegal dorado were shipped to the United States from Mexico. Thousands of marine turtles die each year in Mexico because of the illegal long line dorado fishery. I even went to NOAA head quarters and lobbied Rebecca Lent, head of international affairs. I asked NOAA to please shut down access to the American market place for illegal dorado. This would indirectly help save sea turtles in the Sea of Cortes. I spoke often with Miyoko Sakashita from the CBD. Miyoko even filed a freedom of information act for me with NOAA. I was pretty sure I had the CBD close to convinced to take on the case pro bono. The project unfortunately died when the Horizon Gulf Oil Spill happened. Everybody and their uncle lined up to sue the government over that and thus my case about dorado was shelved.

So I now applaud the CBD and the Sea Turtle Restoration Project for going the same route that I myself have been preaching for years. It is time to force the Americans and shame the Mexicans into actually doing something concrete to conserve marine resources.

In the middle of March I had a chance to speak with Allan Risenhoover, the head of enforcement for NOAA fisheries. That interview is now online as a pod cast. Even though I was researching an article on The Billfish Conservation Act at the end of the conversation I just had to put on my lobbyist cap. I told Allan flat out that people in conservation here in Mexcio are not going to stand by much longer and take the bullshit that has been fed to us for the last ten years. I told him flat out that people were going to start hiring lawyers out of sheer frustration. I can now see that my prediction has come true with lightening speed and precision.

With world wide marine resources dwindling I hope that this new petition filed with the department of commerce for the United States for something that is happening in another country is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There is little solace in saying I told you so to all my friends in conservation who did not support the idea of trying to file suit in the United States over something that is happening in another country like Mexico. So I won’t say I told you so. What I would say is that I think it is just about time that those in the sport fishing and tourism industry in Mexico that have not already been working on these issues to get off of their lazy asses and force federal agencies in Mexico and the United States to start working together and enforcing all the laws that exist on the books. That is all we ask, just enforce the existing laws, that is enough. And if they refuse take their asses to court or better yet how’s about some serious civil disobedience. It’s time we tried something new since what we have been doing ain’t working. Congradulations one again to The CBD and The Sea Turtle Restoration Project. Gods speed!

4 Responses to Mexico’s fisheries are a complete mess now what?

  1. Vince,

    Thank you and your beautiful family for defending our jobs and our natural resources. I am in the industry and have felt like I’ve been whipped into submission by our “powers that be” and the zombie sheep that follow them, after years and years of filing complaints and speaking out only to be ignored and worse- scrutinized.

    Sportfishing isn’t sitting on our lazy asses, we’re trying to survive! With the f-ing b.s. regulations and time-wasting paperwork and pencil pushing, with the constant eyeballs of officials on our work while big commericals are allowed to rape and pillage- it gets exhausting. Our place in the economic picture is constantly brushed aside by government types and ONG’s- so the lazy comment is a bunch of bunk. What has in fact happened has been “divide and conquer” of sportfishing and tourism. Those who speak out, like Minnie and myself are scapegoated, those who sell out are greatly rewarded $$.

    Pictures say 1,000 words and your videos speak volumnes. Even after Oro de Cortez was put out, our “powers that be” continue to ignore us. Its only through their wallets that they will understand to take the responsibility that we the citizens pay them for. The next step is we the citizens actually holding them responsible for their actions, but that’s just a pipe dream. I hope this action of CBD and STRP works out and time hasn’t run out for the mar de cortes.

  2. We need about 1000 more women and men like you and Mini! What upsets me is the tourism industry here in San Carlos most of all. There is a general malaise here in Sonora in regards to the tourism and sport fishing industry. Mostly what goes on here is ass kissing to CONAPESCA by many of the big tourism players when ever the Asesino del Mar would show up in town. Ramon Corral was here the summer before last for a press conference that was disguised as a work shop. I of course wasn’t even told of the meeting until someone mentioned it to me. The meeting was being held at the Marina Terra Hotel. The owners of the Marina Terra Hotel have called themselves defenders of Dorado but yet there they sat at this meeting praising Roman Corral as he informed us of the new aqua culture project that was being rammed down our throats. Many of the prestadores de servicios as well sat there and listened like a bunch of sheep. There was one guy, a local boat captain named Manny Garcia, who got up in front of the crowd took the microphone in his hand and called it exactly the way he saw it. We never did get the aquaculture project to the best of my knowledge. Of all things it was a project to cultivate totoaba. Yes thats right totoaba. All Conapesca would have to do is regulate the illegal totoaba fishery and let nature do the rest. That would also save the vaquita as well but no, far better to allow the illegal fishing, find a company that will cultivate totoaba and then just keep on doing business as usual. It is unfortunate but I guess in the long run we the public deserve what we are getting since we have allowed this to happen. It is the other species that don’t deserve their fate at the hand of us supposed Homo sapiens. I agree with Paul Watson when he said we are just a bunch of hairless apes run amok on the planet. Eventually with luck the planet with shed us. LOL Saludos Reina de la Pesca, con el favor de dios nos vemos este verano.

  3. Hugs to you both. We all “fight the good fight” as best we can-over incredible odds and yet-is ANYONE listening? Sigh. I won’t get on my soap box today but love you both for doing so! It’s a simple message, just enforce the freakin’ laws, be it on the water or in the freakin restaurants.

  4. If you think that left a bad taste in your mouth Bryan wait till next week. Even though Roman Corral our ex head of Conapesca is long gone it seems like his ghost still haunts us and Mexico’s fisheries. It looks like we are gonna have some very interesting stuff to report next week in Regards, to Sonoran Sardineros. As you and I and many others know the Guaymas commercial sardine fleet is legendary for taking fish that are not sardines.

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