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  • ARTISANAL SHRIMP FISHING IN THE BIOSPHERE RESERVE OF THE UPPER GULF OF CALIFORNIA

    BY

    GERARDO RODRÍGUEZ-QUIROZ1), E. ALBERTO ARAGÓN-NORIEGA2,4) and ALFREDO ORTEGA-RUBIO3)

    1) Centro Interdisciplinario de Investigación para el Desarrollo Integral Regional, Unidad Sinaloa, Blvd. Juan de Díos Bátiz 250, San Joachin, Guasave, Sinaloa 81101, Mexico

    2) Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, Unidad Sonora, Km 2.35 Camino al Tular, Estero de Bacochibampo, Guaymas, Sonora 85454, Mexico

    3) Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste, Mar Bermejo No. 195, Col Playa Palo de Santa Rita, La Paz, B.C.S. 23090, Mexico

    ABSTRACT

    Shrimp is the most important marine resource for the three communities of the Upper Gulf of California (UGC): San Felipe in the state of Baja California, and Golfo de Santa Clara and Puerto Peñasco in the state of Sonora. This fishery generates 80% of the profits in the region. A fishery tendency analysis was made from 1996 to 2007 in the UGC. For the first time, this fishery analysis showed that the Biosphere Reserve and the recently declared Vaquita Refuge Area are important grounds for artisanal fishing. The CPUE and total catches used to describe the fishing effort in the area, could be used to establish any further relationship between shrimp population and environmental variables, because of their high correlation coefficient (0.85). Shrimp capture in the marine protected areas has maintained a continuous level of production with economic incentives, making it attractive to fishermen despite recent restrictions on their activities. As shrimp vessels reduce in number, small boats gradually increase in number and productivity, maintaining high incomes from the fishery. A detailed interdisciplinary study of the fishing effort in the UGC must be conducted, because of the endangered species found in this area, which require adequate management for their conservation without compromising the welfare of the fishermen.

    RESUMEN

    El camarón es el recurso pesquero más importante en el Alto Golfo de California (AGC) para las tres comunidades pesqueras que en ella se encuentran: San Felipe, Baja California, Golfo de Santa Clara y Puerto Peñasco, Sonora. Esta pesquería por si sola genera el 80% de los ingresos pesqueros totales en la región. Se hizo un análisis de la tendencia de la pesca de camarón del periodo 1996 al 2007. Por primera vez se describe la importancia de la pesca dentro de la Reserva de la biosfera del Alto Golfo de California y del Refugio de la Vaquita Marina. Debido

    4) Fax: +52.6222212238; e-mail: aaragon04@cibnor.mx

    © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2009 Crustaceana 82 (12): 1481-1493 Also available online: www.brill.nl/cr DOI:10.1163/156854009X463865

  • 1482 GERARDO RODRÍGUEZ-QUIROZ ET AL.

    al alto coeficiente de correlación (0,85), la captura total y el CPUE analizados para el esfuerzo pesquero pueden ser utilizados para establecer futuras relaciones entre las variables ambientales y la población de camarón en la región. La captura del camarón mantiene un continuo crecimiento en las áreas naturales protegidas (ANP) siendo atractivo para los pescadores a pesar de las recientes restricciones a la pesca. Al disminuir el esfuerzo de las embarcaciones mayores dentro las ANP, se ha incrementado gradualmente la productividad de las embarcaciones artesanales, lo que ha propiciado un aumentando en el numero de embarcaciones y de los ingresos económicos en la región, manteniéndose una alta rentabilidad de la pesquería. El esfuerzo pesquero realizado por pescadores de las comunidades en el AGC dentro de las ANP requiere de un estudio más complejo e interdisciplinario, ya que en esta ANP se encuentran especies en peligro de extinción, el cual requieren de un manejo adecuado para su conservación sin que afecte los intereses individuales de los pescadores.

    INTRODUCTION

    Small-scale marine fisheries provide an important source of food and income for coastal communities worldwide (FAO, 2002), and Mexico has an important tradition in small-scale fisheries. The Gulf of California is one of the major marine fishery areas, contributing 20% of the national production and including more than 50,000 small vessels (Cisneros, 2001; SAGARPA, 2002). The Gulf has been divided into four regions based on biological, ecological, and oceanographic characteristics. One of these regions is the Upper Gulf of California (UGC), which is of great importance for the production of shrimp and other species that depend on estuarine conditions (Galindo-Bect et al., 2000; Ramírez-Rojo & Aragón-Noriega, 2006).

    The Upper Gulf of California and the Colorado River Delta were together declared a Biosphere Reserve on 10 June 1993; this reserve covers an area of 934,756 hectares and includes both marine and terrestrial environments (DOF, 1993; fig. 1). The Reserve was created to protect species inhabiting the region, some of which are commercially important, endemic, or under risk of extinction (INE, 1995; Van Jaarsveld et al., 1998). The area is supported by a management programme that was designed to promote sustainable activities by durable and conservational use of biodiversity (SEMARNAT, 1995; Rojas-Bracho et al., 2006).

    Due to the harsh climatic conditions along the Upper Gulf coast, the most im- portant economic activities in the region are the fisheries. Two types of commercial shrimp fishing take place in the UGC: artisanal (or small-scale) and industrial fish- ing. Artisanal fisheries use 7-m fiberglass boats (“pangas”) with outboard engines and two fishermen; deployment and retrieval of fishing gear (hook and line, gill- nets, pots, longlines) is performed manually. This type of fishing is carried out by organizations called cooperatives or by individual fishermen from three ports of the UGC: Puerto Peñasco and El Golfo de Santa Clara, both in the State of Sonora, and San Felipe, in Baja California (Cudney & Turk, 1998).

  • SHRIMP FISHING IN THE UPPER GULF OF CALIFORNIA 1483

    Fig. 1. The Biosphere Reserve of the Upper Gulf of California (June 1993) and the Vaquita Refuge area (December 2005), with the location of the three communities along the Upper Gulf

    of California.

    Industrial fishing is conducted using 20-23 m steel ships with minimum crews of five, and with machinery to operate fishing gear (trawl nets, longlines, gillnets). Industrial fishing is carried out mainly by fishermen from Puerto Peñasco and other ports outside the UGC region such as Guaymas and Mazatlán.

    The blue shrimp, Litopenaeus stylirostris (Stimpson, 1871) fishery represents ∼90% of the shrimp capture in the UGC. Based on catch volume and beach eco- nomic value, this fishery is the most important in the UGC. This species is highly priced in the local and international markets (Cudney & Turk, 1998). Fluctuations in shrimp capture have occurred as a result of overfishing by commercial trawlers, Colorado River flows and illegal fishing (Galindo-Bect et al., 2000).

    The potential profit of important species has motivated the fishing effort in the UGC, which jeopardizes critical species such as the totoaba, Totoaba macdonaldi (Gilbert, 1890) (Pisces, Sciaenidae), and the rare vaquita Phocoena sinus (Norris & McFarland, 1958) (Mammalia, Phocoenidae). The fish and the marine mammal are accidentally caught in gillnets used in the UGC (Jaramillo-Legorreta et al.,

  • 1484 GERARDO RODRÍGUEZ-QUIROZ ET AL.

    2007). These species are also at risk of extinction due to low existing numbers (Morris & Doak, 2003) and reduced habitat (Rojas-Bracho et al., 2006). A buy- out program of shrimp trawling vessels was recently implemented in order to reduce the fishing effort and to protect soft-bottom biological communities (García-Caudillo & Gómez-Palafox, 2005). However, the buy-out program lacks fundamental information for proper regulation of the shrimp fishery.

    There are few studies focusing on the shrimp fishery in the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta (Galindo-Bect et al., 2000; Aragón-Noriega & García-Juárez, 2002). These studies primarily concentrated on the relation between shrimp captures and Colorado River flow; none has provided a description and analysis of the shrimp fishery in the zone.

    In this work, we identify and compute the economic value of shrimp capture as one of the most important artisanal fisheries of the Upper Gulf of California Biosphere Reserve and of the recently created Vaquita Refuge, by the three communities within the protected marine areas. We also analysed the current situation of the shrimp fishery in the UGC through primary (interviews) and secondary (official catch reports) data. We describe the basic variables such as Catch per Unit of Effort (CPUE), effort, and catch fluctuations. We also identify the fishing ground for each community. Finally, we assessed the relative sustainability of the shrimp fishery by means of a sustainability index.

    METHODS

    A total of 2,554 catch reports by artisanal fishermen of the three fishing communities of the UGC was compiled and analysed. Artisanal fishery data spanning January to December from 1996 to 2007 were collected from official records in the ports of San Felipe, El Golfo de Santa Clara, and Puerto Peñasco. Further information was gathered from a closed survey based on direct interviews of 146 artisanal fishermen in those three ports. Questionnaires were designed to compute the direct cost structure of fishing operations, as well as fishing sites. Following the Cochran (1989) method, we obtained the fishermen population to interview as follows:

    n = Z2q E2p

    1 + 1N [Z 2q−1 E2p

    ]

    where: n