Gulf of California

Protecting Mexico's most important fisheries region.

The seas that surround the Peninsula of Baja California are among the most valuable on the planet.

The Gulf of California's fisheries, which include shrimp, squid, tuna and sardines, account for 70% of Mexico's fishing and contribute USD $ 900 million annually to its economy. The spectacular natural beauty of the region attracts more than 1.5 million tourists a year. Although critical to the national economy, fisheries and coastal development also threaten the very ecosystems that produce fish, attract tourism and protect the coast from storms.

Since 1996, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has protected and restored the natural resources of this region. In 2012, we launched the Marine Initiative for the Gulf of California, a ten-year effort that seeks to mobilize political will and funding in favor of the management of marine areas and the protection of 10 million hectares in order to double the areas under conservation and fishing management.

Our Work

  • Protect marine habitats on an unprecedented scale through innovative strategies.
  • Transform ocean management by collaborating with governments and local stakeholders.
  • Inspire those who promote development in the oceans and coasts to ensure long-term success through the exchange of experiences, science and to empower promoters of marine conservation.

With 20 years of conservation experience in the region, TNC is recognized as an effective partner, with scientific strength and able to form alliances with different actors to find and implement effective solutions. We design solutions to achieve large-scale impact through cooperation with the public and private sectors.

Conserving Critical Habitats

A major cause of the degradation of the oceans is the false belief that their resources are inexhaustible. TNC and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography are mapping the "marine wealth" in the region to document the economic value of marine habitats for fisheries and tourism. For example, tourism in this region contributes USD $ 2 million annually to the Mexican economy, and researchers hope to identify specifically which habitats generate such wealth. The results will help inform political decisions, raise awareness of the value of the region and generate changes for ocean management.

Improving Oceans Management

Marine Space Planning (PEM) is a proven strategy to improve the management of marine areas in national waters. It is an inclusive process to analyze and distribute economic activities in order to achieve multiple conservation objectives. TNC works with the Mexican government and local interest groups to develop a coastal and marine zoning plan for Marismas Nacionales, the most extensive and productive wetland in Mexico located on the Pacific coast. This project will serve as a model not only for the Gulf of California, but to transform coastal management and marine areas nationwide.

Strengthening Fish Stocks

Recovery Areas are areas where fishing is prohibited to promote the replenishment of species overexploited marinas. Over time, fish populations grow and return to adjacent areas, where fishing is allowed. Currently, less than 0.5% of the region is designated as a No Fishing Zone. As a result, many sites of ecological and fishing importance are unprotected. TNC works with local conservation partners, with communities and fisheries agencies to expand these areas through science and technology, strengthened policies and the creation of financial mechanisms that favor improved management of fisheries. There is still time and opportunity to recover fisheries and avoid further degradation of coastal ecosystems so it is important to act now to ensure the wealth of the region. By working with local communities, conservation partners and the public and private sector, it is possible to create solutions for this part of Mexico that are replicable in the rest of the country and around the world.


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