Cancun, Mexico | December 05, 2016
The President of México, Enrique Peña Nieto, through the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the National Commission of Protected Areas (CONANP), signed a decree today to create three new marine biosphere reserves, on the occasion of hosting the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity COP 13.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC)—an international environmental organization with more than 30 years working in conservation in México—congratulates the Mexican Government for reaffirming their commitment to conserving marine habitats. These Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) contain some of the most unique biodiversity in the world and are of great economic significance for the surrounding communities. These new MPAs bring Mexico’s MPA total to 22.05% of its coastal and marine area. TNC further congratulates Mexico for fulfilling its internationally-agreed Biodiversity Convention MPA Target 11.
TNC collaborated with governmental agencies and other stakeholders by utilizing our science-based approach to support the creation of these new Marine Protected Areas.
“We recognize the importance that Mexico has placed on their oceans with actions such as these,” said Juan Bezaury Creel, representative of TNC in México. He added, “For us, it is an honor to have been able to provide technical expertise and collaborate with governmental institutions to achieve these conservation outcomes.”
Oceans offer natural benefits that sustain coastal economies, provide diverse opportunities for the tourism sector and help to protect communities against natural disasters, amongst other benefits. Therefore, maintaining the health of these marine ecosystems is essential.
To achieve its conservation mission, TNC supports a variety of strategies for marine conservation globally and in dozens of countries around the world. One of the many tools includes MPAs that help achieve ocean conservation goals, with the support of local communities and national governments, to balance the sustainable use of marine resources including fisheries.
The Pacific Islands Biosphere Reserve is a new 1.16 M hectare biosphere reserve, created off the west coast of the Baja California Peninsula in the Pacific Ocean. After an eleven-year, multi-stakeholder consultation and negotiation process, this newly created biosphere reserve represents a huge effort to protect Mexico´s largest gap on island conservation through multiple use zoning. This designation protects not only the islands, but also a large portion of the surrounding waters where marine mammals and seabirds live and reproduce. This will also protect fishing grounds upon which local cooperatives’ livelihoods depend.
The deep-sea Pacific Biosphere Reserve is a 57.78 M hectare deep-sea multi-use MPA created off the Pacific coast of Mexico (its largest MPA) and includes the water column below 800 meters and fragile seabed ecosystems. Mining and fishing activities will be allowed without the use of trawling gears outside the strictly protected core zones. It is encouraging to see Mexico adopt measures that will protect the deep ocean, consistent with the United Nations General Assembly resolutions (Resolutions 61/105, 62/74 etc.). This supports similar measures taken earlier this year by the European Union and previously by other countries and the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Regional Fisheries Management Organizations.
The Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve isa 5.75 M hectare MPA that was created off the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Caribbean Ocean. This occurred after an intensive seven-month public consultation with fisheries and tourism stakeholders. This area includes almost 50% of the length of the Mesoamerican Reef, which spans 625 miles from the tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, through Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. Coral reefs, coastal wetlands and deep sea habitats will be permanently conserved and sustainably managed within this multi-use MPA.
–From the Nature Conservancy