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New legislation to protect shark populations

March 3, 2007 Written by

Comments: Well, the Nautilus Explorer is back in Cabo San Lucas, our guests have disembarked and we are bustling to get the ship turned around for our next trip.   Cabo San Lucas is chaotic with the start of “spring breakers” and I will be completely content to stay onboard tonight and have a quiet drink and enjoy our hot tub.  Captain Dave tells me that the return crossing from San Benedicto Island was a 7/10 in terms of roughness.  They started out with a bumpy 6 – 8 foot sea but it moderated after 12 hours and the rest of the trip was quite pleasant.  Very, very exciting news on our end is the enactment of new legislation in Mexico designed to protect the local shark populations.  I couldn’t be more ecstatic about the news.  Captain Mike.

Is my pleasure inform you that the “Mexican Official Standard Rule NOM-029-PESC-2006, Responsible shark and ray fisheries” has been published last February 14, 2007 in the Federal Gazzette of the Mexican Government. This set of regulations will improve the management of all shark fisheries (artisanal and offshore) in Mexico and will promote the conservation of shark stocks and vulnerable shark and ray species. Between the most important measures are: the complete shark finning ban, the extention of the memoratorium of new shark commercial permits, the complete ban of shark gillnets in median size commercial boats (10.5 – 27 m length) in all territorial waters in 2.5 years, the implementation of an official observer program in all shark vessels, the obligatory participation of all shark boats in the tracking satellite program of CONAPESCA, the improving of the statistical fishery collecting data system, the implementation of limits for shark fishery grounds (in the West coast of the Baja Peninsula, the median size shark commercial boats should operate outside of the 20 nm, artisanal outside of 10 nm), and the most beautiful contribution of all, the total protection of the great white, whale, basking, and saw sharks and the group of manta rays (all species of genus Mobula). None, could catch any individual of this species since next May 15, 2007.

I attached to this mail the text of the NOM-029, unfortunately in Spanish, the English version is in its way, also include the letter I wrote requesting the urgent implementation of the NOM-029, addressed to the Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food of Mexico (SAGARPA), with the support of more than 150 electronic signatures of the national and international scientific community, including most of the most renowned shark scientist in the world. Two days after delivery the letter the NOM-029 was published as law.

So our precious great white sharks of Guadalupe Island should have finally the support of the Fisheries Law. All white sharks caugth alive in commercial shark vessels operations should be released asap and the ones already dead should be notified and delivery to the authorities. The authority onboard of those boats will be the official CONAPESCA observers. This program will be mandatory and permanent. Since last year the pilot observer program has been conducted in Puerto Peñasco, Ensenada, Mazatlán and Manzanillo, where most of the shark fleet is concentred. Now the program is voluntary and temporal, after May 15, must be obligatory and permanent.

So, Mike, that is what the mexican shark biologists has been doing in Mexico in the last years, including our last effort in try to understand the seasonal migratory pattern of the great white sharks in Guadalupe Island.

So, this is going to be a good year for everyone related with sharks.  Collaboration is the key strategy to achieve success in the conservation of those beautiful animals, here and everywhere. The elaboration, discussion, and agreement of the NOM-029 took us almost 10 years.Weather: Sunny. Not a cloud in the sky. 79°F. Winds from the north at 10 knots. Calm seas in the harbour except for the jetskiis.

Water: Water temp and vis unknown.

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