Oceana Finds Illegal Fishing and Diseased Corals During an Expedition to Alacranes Reef in Mexico - Oceana

Oceana Finds Illegal Fishing and Diseased Corals During an Expedition to Alacranes Reef in Mexico

Press Release Date: July 18, 2022

Location: Mexico City

Contact:

Anna Baxter

A dead coral skeleton (left) next to a healthy Diploria labyrinthiformis colony (right) © Oceana /Juan Carlos Bonilla

To kick off Coral Reef Awareness Week, Oceana and expedition partner Blancpain released the following initial findings from their May 2022 expedition to Alacranes Reef, the largest reef in the southern Gulf of Mexico and a registered Natural Protected Area (NPA)

“During the expedition, Oceana found evidence of illegal fishing, diseased corals, and possible signs of overfishing,” warned Miguel Rivas, Oceana’s director of habitat campaigns in Mexico. “These worrying conditions threaten Mexico’s rich biodiversity, so we are calling on the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) to urgently address these issues.”

While examining the reefs, located approximately 87 miles off the coast of Yucatan, Oceana’s team of scientists identified corals with white band and black band diseases, which can be deadly. In some areas, Oceana found evidence of newly destroyed corals that were intact a year ago during a previous expedition to the area. Within the NPA, four medium-sized boats were recorded fishing; three of which were fishing within the core zone, where fishing is prohibited to allow for complete conservation of the reef’s resources. Oceana observed these boats using unauthorized fishing gear, such as harpooning. There were no authorities identified in the area to supervise the park and ensure illegal activities do not occur.

Despite these concerning findings, Oceana identified some recolonization of elkhorn coral, a species that builds refuge and feeding areas for other marine life, indicating that Alacranes Reef can thrive with additional protections.

Based on these initial findings, Oceana is recommending CONANP to:

  • Conduct additional research on marine life living near the seabed and on fish in the area to make better informed decisions about the park’s management.
  • Improve the NPA’s zoning; additional sites should be included in the ‘core zone’ or be considered fishing refuges. This would play a critical role in aiding the recovery of fish populations in the area.
  • Reassess how many tourists are permitted to fish in the park, as this subjects the reef to unnecessary and damaging stress.

Photos and videos from the expedition are available here.

About Oceana: Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.oceana.org to learn more.

About Blancpain: Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain in the Swiss Jura, Blancpain is known as the world’s oldest watch brand. Loyal to its tradition of innovation and confirmed by countless horological complications invented over the years, the Manufacture is constantly pushing the boundaries of watchmaking to take this art to places where it has never been before.

Exploration and preservation of the world’s oceans is at the core to Blancpain. With its legacy of the Fifty Fathoms – the first modern diver’s watch – extending over almost 70 years, Blancpain has become close to the explorers, photographers, scientists and environmentalists who treasure the precious underwater resource. With that affinity has come a determination to support important activities and initiatives dedicated to the oceans.

To date, Blancpain has co-financed 21 major scientific expeditions, celebrated its role in significantly extending the surface area of marine protected areas around the world, and presented several award-winning documentary films, underwater photography exhibitions and publications. This dedication to supporting ocean exploration and preservation is called Blancpain Ocean Commitment.

Click here for more information about the Blancpain Ocean Commitment.