SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 11, April 2016 - Page 94

3. Marine Protected Areas Work… And We Need More

On February 26th, the Mission Blue expedition team received a full briefing from Dr. James Ketchum, a shark biologist and lead at Pelagios Kakunjá, a nonprofit shark research organization based in La Paz, BCS, Mexico. Dr. Ketchum pointed to encouraging data, such as the 400% rebound in fish biomass since Cabo Pulmo was declared a no-take marine protected area 20 years ago. However, through analysis of his telemetry data, he also noted

that some shark populations were barely registering and had migratory routes that were relatively unknown. In a broader sense, Dr. Ketchum’s research shows that marine protected areas are not enough; sensible conservation also calls for the creation of protected migratory corridors. What good is a marine protected area if a female shark goes there and gets fertilized, but then is slaughtered when she leaves the zone to give birth?

4. Community Drives Success in the Creation of Protected Areas

(What a fun morning it was! A special thanks goes to dive master Pilu for her leadership.)

We came across it over and over again in talking with the community of Cabo Pulmo: real passion for the Marine Park and a clear understanding that by protecting it, the community is guaranteeing a sustainable future of natural beauty and economic prosperity. Take, for example, the legendary Castro family of Cabo Pulmo, which now operates Cabo Pulmo Divers. The family used to kill marine

wildlife—sharks, fish, turtles and the like—to makes ends meet. Yet decades ago, they accepted the challenge of creating sustainable ecotourism instead of harvesting living resources from the ocean as means to secure prosperity. Their investment has paid back in spades and dedication to marine protection runs deep in the community, from the staff of Nancy’s Restaurant to locals we met in the streets.