Unregulated Tourism, Pollution, and Overfishing Threaten Alacranes Reef | Oceana

Unregulated Tourism, Pollution, and Overfishing Threaten Alacranes Reef

Press Release Date: June 30, 2022

Location: Mexico City


Anna Baxter | email: abaxter@oceana.org
Anna Baxter

  • Following a scientific expedition, Oceana calls for an expansion of Alacranes Reef Natural Protected Area conservation zone to protect Mexico’s vast marine biodiversity.  
  • According to Oceana, unregulated tourism, overfishing, and pollution are the main threats to the area. 

Today, Oceana released the results of its first-ever scientific expedition in Mexico to Bajos del Norte and Alacranes Reef. Along with expedition partner Blancpain, Oceana assessed the health of the reefs located approximately 87 to 137 miles off the coast of Yucatan, finding recent coral mortality, varying levels of coral bleaching, and 87 species not previously recorded in these areas. To protect the rich biodiversity of Bajos del Norte and Alacranes reefs, Oceana is calling for an expansion of the conservation zone. Bajos del Norte is an ideal area for protection because of its rich biodiversity with hundreds of marine species including some of commercial importance like grouper, snapper, octopus, and lobster.  

According to the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA), which quantifies commercial fishes’ populations, the number of macroalgae, the state of the coral, and the presence of herbivorous fish, Alacranes Reef obtained a “fair” evaluation for its health. It is urgent to protect the reef, so it does not lose its biodiversity. “The findings from the expedition will help facilitate decision-making, including increased protections for the areas and improving economic conditions for families whose livelihoods depend on the species in and around these reefs,” Mariana Reyna, expedition leader and Oceana campaign manager, stated. 

Significant findings of the report include: 

  • Reef-building species, such as Diploria, Pseudodiploria, and Eusmilia, are decreasing in Bajos del Norte, stressing the need to protect this area.  
  • Four of the eight sites visited had recent coral mortality, with some coral colonies experiencing diseases, including yellow-band, black spots, and varying levels of bleaching.  
  • Oceana registered 87 species that had not yet been recorded in Bajos del Norte. These numbers are likely to increase as more unknown species are discovered in the area. 
  • The health of the Alacranes Reef is considered “fair.” Half of the observed sites have fair health due to low coral coverage, high sediment, and algae growth, which prevents the recovery of the colonies. 

Oceana calls on Mexico’s Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the Commission of Natural Protected Areas to expand Alacranes Reef National Park to include the Bajos del Norte Reef.  

To read the English-language summary of the report, click here. To read the report in Spanish, click here.  

Oceana also recognizes the contributions of Sobrato Philanthropies and the Wyss Foundation, whose support was instrumental to this expedition and Oceana’s ongoing campaigns in Mexico. 

 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. Visit 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. 

 Press Contacts:   

Georgina Aldana: 55 1486 4423, galdana@oceana.org  

Anna Baxter: abaxter@oceana.org