Despite a recent self-imposed “off season” on Black Murex (Muricanthus nigritus), also known as Radish Murex and locally as Black Chinese Snail, local fishermen in the Upper Gulf Reserve are concerned about others coming in to disrupt fragile fishing areas.
Earlier this week, the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO) issued a press release noting that since 2009 the Office on Environmental Impact and Risk under the Secretary of the Environment has required coastal fisherman to implement an Environmental Impact Statement (MIA) in order to fish in the buffer zone in the Reserve of the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta. Under this requirement, the twenty-nine local cooperatives and permit holders participating in the project, totaling 136 vessels, along with others from Santa Clara and San Felipe are the only coastal fishermen with the right to fish within the Reserve, which extends from La Cholla north.
Those participating in MIA must comply with a series of requirements to ensure minimal environmental impact from fishing. As part of these actions, local MIA fishermen with permits for Black Murex have volunteered to impose an “off season” on the resource to promote the species’ reproductive period, which runs from May 15th – June 15th. As the fishermen under MIA are the only ones authorized to fish within the Reserve, during this period there should be no smaller boats taking out Black Murex within the area from La Cholla and north into the Reserve.
However, Felipe Barrera Aguirre of CEDO communicates despite efforts of local coastal fishermen, there are complaints of a lack of surveillance and inspection along with the opportunistic arrival of outside fishermen seeking out the rich areas that locals have worked so diligently to conserve.
Aguirre remarks their calls have received a response, and grievances from local fishermen are to be heard this coming Friday, June 6th.
“Nevertheless,” emphasizes Aguirre, “we can’t wait that long. We just recently received complaints from one of the fishermen who reported a line of unknown pangas (small coastal boats) set up in the early hours of the morning heading into the Reserve in search of Black Murex, which local fishermen have sacrificed so much to conserve.”
“Now is the middle of the reproductive phase and precisely when [the local fishermen] have voluntarily imposed an off-season to allow for the release of larvae in order to repopulate the species for next year,” he detailed.
“Currently various [local] fishermen have organized and gone to take pictures and videos of this “parade of pangas”, and on behalf of CEDO we are seeking to speed up the process and get help from local authorities prior to the already established meeting.”