Our Proposal for a Marine Protected Area in San Carlos

Our Proposal for a Marine Protected Area in San Carlos


       I shot the above video in 2010: We need this in San Carlos

On the 2nd of April my self and Ana Luisa Figueroa from Islas del Gulfo de California met with our federal congresswoman from Guaymas, Susan Corella Platt, regarding WorldsAquariuim’s proposal of a marine protected area here in San Carlos. The meeting had a very positive out come and Susana and Ana Luisa are very interested in moving this initiative forward.

Here is what we propose.  Para un PDF en Español haz un click aqui.

Marine Park Full Color

WorldsAquarium proposal for the creation of a Marine Protected Area around San Francisco Bay, Algodones Bay and La Manga Bay. This area would exclude large steel vessels that fish sardine and shrimp commercially from dredging the bottom of the ocean. These vessels produce larges amounts of incidental by catch and are some of the most wasteful forms of fishing on the planet. Large commercial shrimp vessels can often have 10 to 1 incidental by catch. What that means is that for ever kilo of shrimp up to 10 kilos of reef fish can be killed. This fish is less valuable commercially and usually discarded back into the sea. This report by the Environmental Justice Foundation, scroll down to page 13, shows the Sea of Cortes shrimp fishery is the 6th worst trawl fishery in the world for by catch. Just slightly below the Gulf of Mexico trawl fleet. Here is a photo of a typical trawl dredge taken by Brian Skerry from a report by Oceana on shrimp trawl by catch.

These types of trawl nets must come to an en in San Carlos if our reefs are ever to recover!
These types of trawl nets must come to an en in San Carlos if our reefs are ever to recover!


The over exploitation of marine resources in the Sea of Cortes is well documented. Unsustainable illegal fishing by the commercial fishing fleets of Guaymas have had a negative impact on the tourism industry in San Carlos. WorldsAquarium’s goal is to bring more order to the marine area that surrounds San Carlos.

Large commercial fishing vessels that dredge the bottom of the ocean will be excluded from commercial fishing within the designated areas.  Artisanal fisherman i.e. Pangas and sport fisherman will not be excluded from the designated area but will be expected to abide by all the current laws that govern fishing. While fishermen wonder “what does a family lawyer do?” they should be more concerned with “what laws am I breaking by taking these fish out of the water?” These sports fisherman must be included in the law if it has any hope of holding its ground.

WorldsAquarium will demonstrate via socioeconomic studies that the area which would be protected will have a higher economic value opposed to an area that is not protected. It has been shown in many areas around the world that commercial fishing actually can improve around marine parks. One of if not the most successful marine park in the world lies in Cabo Pulmo, just a few hundred miles south from San Carlos on the Baja Peninsula.

The small area that we propose for protection is but a minuscule fraction of the total area available to the commercial shrimp and sardine fleet. We will show that the amount of fish taken from the proposed area is a very small percentage of the total fishing effort of the commercial shrimp and sardine boats.

The small amount of revenue that might be lost to the commercial fishing sector would more than be made up for by the huge gain in Eco-tourism related activities such as sport fishing, kayaking, bird watching, etc.


  • The tourism Sector of Guaymas, San Carlos and La Manga
  • The Artisanal Fisherman in small vessels such as pangas often called ribereños
  • The large steel commercial fishing vessels that fish for sardine and shrimp


Although only a small percentage of large boats enter our bays they can do great damage to the ecology
Although only a small percentage of large commercial boats enter our bays and dredge the bottom they can do great damage to the ecology in just one fishing session: such as this shrimp boat weighing anchor in Algodones bay


Here is a brief description of how the process of creating a Marine Protected Area will begin.

Soon a process of data collection will begin on users inside the designated zone. This process will define which sectors use the area and how often. While that data process is taking place information on the proposal will be sent to all sectors involved. After all sectors have been notified of the proposal a series of public forums will be held for users to express their ideas, and opinions on a marine protected zone in the San Carlos area.



11 Responses to Our Proposal for a Marine Protected Area in San Carlos

  1. Keep up the good work, Vince. I think you are heading in the right direction.
    There is a lot to be said for “baby steps”… start small, gain a foothold and work our way up.

    Secure what you have and then add a little more. The Powers That Be will feel less threatened and be easier to manage.

    Certainly, we need to be able to show those in power why this will be a positive thing for them and their continuing careers.

  2. Please keep us posted as to what we, as a community, can do to help. I’m assuming that in order to get the La Manga fishermen aboard, the panga fisherman will be allowed to continue fishing in the area. My suggestion would be that the Pangeros and the sport fisherman also be prohibited for a year or two for a more rapid regrowth and re-population of the sea habitat. We are 100% behind you Vince!!! THANK YOU!!!

    • Thanks for that Debbie! All of the small panga’s that fish the area should in theory be in favor of stopping the large boats from destroying the bottom of the ocean floor. But they do need to understand and it will be made clear that illegal fishing by anyone in the area will not be tolerated. The huge increase in gill nets that seem to have appeared lately is very concerning to us. Gracias por su apoyo!!!

  3. Cabo Pulmo has been successful although a lack of enforcement has resulted in an ongoing exploitation by fishing, bait gathering, and spearfishing, often at night. Much of the abuse since the inception of the Park has been due to the local folks who present themselves as the caretakers. In reality, most the old meros, (jewfish), so docile and territorial that they had their own names, are gone now and only in a few short years.
    Without funded outside, objective,(federal), enforcement of rules and boundaries, a park cannot be truly preserved.
    This is fundamental protecting any preserve, anywhere.

    • It is always the same story. A lack of enforcement results in ongoing exploitation. I agree 110% with your statement Jose. That will be and always is the standard issue. Ever since the days that we did the very first dorado bust here in San Carlos not much has changed. The government can not do the job with out the will of the people there to see this through. I feel that the town of San Carlos will have a different dynamic than other protected areas in the Sea of Cortes. It is very different here compared to Cabo Pulmo and other “Protected” places such as Loreto Park, Isla San Pedro Martir and the Vaquita refuge to the north. Nothing is easy here in terms of marine conservation. It never is! Thanks for your comment!

  4. This is a great start. To get to Cabo Pulmo like conditions, you also need to somehow stop the pangueros from fishing in this zone, especially the ones with divers. And that would be really tough to accomplish.

    Also, I would suggest extending the zone all the way to Cabo Haro. Although San Carlos boats don’t go past Hay Stack rock often, the section between Punta Lobos and Cabo Haro is well worth protecting. Having the zone start at Cabo Haro would allow you to draw a straight line limit all the way to La Manga. In fact, I would make the case that the zone should extend all the way to the Himalaya to protect most of the rocky coast.


    • To get to Cabo Pulmo conditions we will need a Zona Nucleo as they say and this zone must be completely free of any kind of fishing. Something that we will be proposing for sure. I agree that Cabo Haro is well worth protecting and no line has been written in stone. Going all the way to Himalaya I think would be politically unfeasible I think, although I would like to go all the way to Seri Muerto past Punta San Pedro.

  5. You are on the right track.
    Do not get bogged-down by re-inventing the wheel.
    Start with a legitimate presence. This means an institutional method in securing a safe house that will become your center of potential expansion.
    That safe house should be the Estuary off of Pilar.
    Begin by getting it out of State hands and into a Federal protection area.
    You expand from there.

    • What you have to understand is that the Estuary, Estero el Soldado, has protection. It is protected by federal law but it is managed by a state government. There is no way that is going to change. The Estuary is a ANP, Area Natural Protegido, basically a national park. The Marine Protected Area that we propose complements the estuary and that is why CONANP is fully supporting the initiative.

Leave a reply