Citizen science with Mexican artisanal fishers in community marine reserves

María Fernanda Pérez Alarcón

The Gulf of California is a unique habitat, but heavily overfished (Sala et al. 2004). In 2016, proposals to create four fully-protected marine reserves (2.16 km2) and a Marine Protected Area (MPA) (40.7 km2) where submitted to the Mexican government by two fisheries management committees in the Gulf of California. The reserves aim to protect species important for fisheries and conservation. The MPA will be created under the environmental legislation, the marine reserves under the fisheries legislation. The management committees consist of local fishermen and women with the help of local NGOs. Citizen science monitoring programmes need to be put in place to ensure that the fully-protected marine reserves can be evaluated and to promote adaptive management. Fishers will be trained to SCUBA dive and use regionally appropriate subaquatic monitoring techniques to monitor the reserves. Additionally, a fisheries logbook programme will be implemented with different fishing cooperatives to evaluate the impact of the reserves on catches. Involving the fishers directly creates awareness and pride in the project, promoting sustainability in the long term.