The barrier islands and expansive bay and lagoons of Bahia Magdalena are some of the most biological significant coastal sites in North America. Along with Laguna San Ignacio and Ojo de Liebre, Bahia Magdalena provides one of the last pristine California Grey Whale breeding grounds on the planet. The bay’s expansive mangrove forests provide essential ecosystems services and support important habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife. Bahia Magdalena is home to four species of marine turtles, over a hundred resident and migratory bird species and an abundance of fisheries that provide significantly to the eregional economy.
Unfortunately, the overexploitation of vulnerable local fisheries and development threats are weighing heavily on the ecological fabric of Bahia Magdalena. Sea turtle and shark poaching is a continuous threat to wildlife populations in the bay as they are throughout coastal Mexico. Without environmental safeguards and effective planning mechanisms, speculative development interests are putting the region’s biological hotspots at risk of permanent destruction. Without effective conservation efforts, the important ecosystems of Bahia Magdalena will be lost.
WiLDCOAST is pursuing a variety of strategies to protect Bahia Magdalena from irreversible destruction. We are working closely with Mexico’s Commission for Protected Natural Areas (CONANP) to protect approximately 30,000 acres of mangrove forests, federal lands, which comprise the bay’s large barrier islands, and over 700 miles shoreline through federal maritime-terrestrial zone (ZOFEMAT) conservation concessions. Additionally, we are advocating the sustainable consumption of seafood in Bahia Magdalena as part of a larger national campaign to conserve Mexico’s delicate marine resources. Through these efforts, WiLDCOAST hopes to reduce the risk of habitat loss and maintain important ecosystem services provided by the complex ecology of Bahia Magdalena.
In 1998, WiLDCOAST’s Executive Director, Serge Dedina, cofounded the School of Field Studies in Puerto San Carlos. Serge was extensively involved in helping to mediate conflicts between the Mexican government and local fishermen over access to whale watching permits in Bahia Magdalena. His book Saving the Gray Whale documents conservation issues revolving around gray whales in the bay and his most recent Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias includes two chapters that discuss the cultural ecology of fishing and conservation in Bahia Magdalena.
WiLDCOAST started its coastal and marine conservation efforts in Bahia Magdalena in 2010 incorporating the lessons we have learned in other regions of the Baja California Peninsula. We identified the following conservation needs that impact marine wildlife conservation: The need for sustainable planning of coastal development, fishing regulations and enforcement of existing ordinances, capacity building among local leaders for environmental conservation improving internal and external communications by local groups and nonprofits engaged in conservation activities.
Activities in 2011
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