Friday, May 18, 2007

Regulations Threaten Mexico's Pelagic-Rich Waters

If you fish, have fished the waters off Baja California, or are at all concerned with worldwide pelagic populations, a recent e-mail that I received from Wayne Bisbee, founder of the Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Bisbee’s Black & Blue Tournaments, will be of interest to you. It alerted me to a potentially tragic, harmful situation that threatens billfish and other game fish in the waters off Baja California.

Despite strong opposition from a number of groups, including the Billfish Foundation, Mexican officials approved Regulation NOM-029, or Shark Norma. Promoted as a way to stop the overexploitation of sharks and rays, the regulations can certainly do more harm than good. The Billfish Foundation points out the potential tragedies behind NOM-029:
Under current regulations no commercial fishing vessels are allowed to fish for or possess marlin, sailfish, dorado and other protected species within the 50 mile conservation zones. The only allowed fishing was under sportfishing bag limits. This law provided strong protection to a wide variety of marine life. Under NOM-029 these species can be targeted and retained. Commercial boats less than 30' can come within 10 miles of shore with longlines (section 4.2.1). Commercial longline boats between 30' and 89' can fish as near as 15 miles from the shore in the Sea of Cortez, and within 20 miles of the west coast of the Baja (4.7.3).
And this is the tip of the iceberg. What can you do to help? See the Billfish Foundation article on how to take action.

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