El Reporte

Coalition Calls for End of Gill-Netting at Espiritu Santos Islands

Byline: Capt. Pat Rains

LA PAZ, Mexico — A coalition of conservation groups is protesting the use of gill nets on inshore reefs around Islas Espiritu Santos off La Paz, and they are asking commercial fishermen to stop using gill nets.

Unidos por Nuestra Isla (United for Our Island) and Sea Watch spearheaded a public letter-writing campaign, addressing the omission of gill-netting restrictions from a new draft management plan that was recently posted by the federal Commission on Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), the agency tasked with protecting nature areas.

Although the official public input period ended Dec. 31, the hot-button topic is likely to extend the window for public input, so boaters may still express their opinions to CONANP.

“The draft plan calls for a balance between protecting the island’s marine life with the sustainable harvest of fish,” said Mike McGettigan, director of Sea Watch.

“Unfortunately, the plan documents a steady decline of fisheries and marine life around the island,” he said. “This decline is in large part a direct result from the use of gill nets, which can kill all marine life indiscriminately. Yet, the new plan proposes to allow those same gill nets to remain on all of the inshore reefs around the islands, except for three small areas previously protected as biospheres.”

For details about the local gill net protest, visit islaespiritusantos.org. Email can be addressed to Benito Bermudez of CONANP at bermudez@conanp.gob.mx.

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