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.
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! http://www.seaturtles.
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!