During the first two years of government, President Felipe Calderón’s administration assigned over $174 million pesos to promote actions to protect the manatee, $157 million of which were allocated to conservation and technological and productive reconversion and $25 million to actions to preserve biodiversity in the Manatee Sanctuary.
Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources. Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada explained that these resources have enabled 836 boats to stop fishing in the Protection Polygon and engage in other kinds of activities, and permitted the cancellation of 1,044 fishing permits, making 1,200 square kilometers of the Manatee Sanctuary free of fishing and incidental capture.
These activities have been carried out in addition to the inspection and surveillance work undertaken on a permanent basis by the Naval Secretariat and the Federal Environmental Protection Bureau.
The government official added that the National Institutes of Ecology and Fishing engage in experimental work to test new, alternative forms of fishing that will not harm the manatee and protect the environment. These include the prototype of a light drag net, a net enabling larger species to escape and traps for catching scales and shrimp.
As part of the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources’ commitment to ensure the care and protection of endangered species, Elvira Quesada reported that the Acoustic Monitoring Cruise Ship recently observed a group of manatees on the coast of the state of Sonora, a crucial phenomenon, since there have been no records of the mammal in this part of the Upper Gulf of California for the past ten years.
The monitoring, carried out by Mexican, Canadian, English, German and Japanese experts, showed that the herd of marsupials detected is in good heath, and has not registered a decline in its population, estimated at 150.
He explained that the cruise ship’s crew includes researchers from the Marine Mammals’ Program of the National Institute of Ecology (INE); as well as specialists from the Southwest Fisheries Science Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Marine Fisheries Center (NMFS).
He said that at the request of fishermen from San Felipe and with the help of INE personnel, discussion and analysis workshops were held in the municipalities of San Felipe, Golfo de Santa Clara and Puerto Peñaso (members of the Upper Gulf of California) where it was agreed that fishing activities would have sustainable planning, with ecological equilibrium for a period of 50 years.
Lastly, the Semarnat director said that joint work is being carried out with the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food, the governments and universities of the state of Baja California and Sonora and the Intercultural Center of Studies of Deserts and Oceans and Pronatura to ensure that the pledges made are shared by the three orders of government and the scientific government, in order to advance towards the conservation and recovery of the species.
Source: Media and Communications Office. Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT).