News Around the Republic of Mexico | September 2008
|Bad News for Anglers and Game Fish in Mexico |
Pete Thomas - LATimes
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Outposts has learned that Mexico has amended its controversial shark-fishing regulation (NOM-029) to allow a 30% rate of incidental bycatch to commercial longliners holding shark permits.
|Dorado such as this large specimen landed by Matt Miller off Cabo San Lucas are a prime target for longliners, even though they're supposedly off-limits to commercial fishermen. (Pete Thomas/Los Angeles Times)|
What does this mean to anglers who enjoy traveling to destinations such as Cabo San Lucas and Baja California’s East Cape region?
An increasingly diminished fishery, over time, for glamor species such as dorado and marlin.
That’s right. This is unsettling news for everyone but the longliners who, with their miles of baited hooks, are now allowed to keep and sell species reserved for sportfishing under a separate law.
Sportfishing interests and conservation groups were aware of the push for such an amendment. But it was published into law, quietly, last Friday, catching opponents by surprise.
"This is disastrous. We have complete and utter disorder in our Mexican fisheries," complained Minerva Saenz, who presides over the sportfishing association in Los Cabos.
The longliners had already gained inroads into coastal waters, with various restrictions, under NOM-029. Now they’ve been given a stamp of approval to target the more lucrative species.
(Only the naive believe the longliners are even after sharks, or that they'll adhere to a 30% bycatch rate, which they’re being asked to monitor in their log books.)
And to think just last week there was positive news. Baja California Sur authorities seized two longline vessels in Magdalena Bay. On board were 10-12 tons of dorado, also known as mahi-mahi.
But this is a federal fisheries issue and CONAPESCA, Mexico's fisheries agency, for no sensible reason, continues to side with the commercial fishing industry.
Said Mike McGettigan, founder of the Portland, Ore.-based conservation group SeaWatch: "It's the most absurd legislation you've ever seen, but it flies in Mexico."
From a conservation standpoint, it's a step backward into a mountain of manure, to be sure, serving as proof that a powerful lobby, up against a loosely-organized opposition, can get what it wants if it tries long and hard enough.
The fight is not over. A major campaign to overturn NOM-029 is being mounted. But another battle has been lost by opponents of the regulation, and it's clear who enjoys the upper hand. Outposts will publish developments as warranted.