We are a team of experts on fishing technologies. Our work intends to support the Mexican government in the design of novel fishing techniques that allow small-scale fishermen to pursue a progressive livelihood without compromising the existence of the totoaba croaker or vaquita porpoise.
ALTERNATIVE GEAR TO GILLNETS IN THE UPPER GULF OF CALIFORNIA
This report was prepared by the Expert Committee on Fishing Technologies (ECOFT), formed in 2016 to advise the Mexican government on developing alternative fishing gear.
The report was made possible from the generous contributions of The Marisla Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, World Wildlife Fund – Netherlands, World Wildlife Fund – Switzerland and the United States Marine Mammal Commission. The contents within would not be possible without the collaboration from the Instituto Nacional de Pesca (INAPESCA), Pronatura Noroeste and Pesca ABC.
Training fishermen of the Upper Gulf of California (UGC) on business to business B2B sales is vital for the economic viability of the new fishing technologies being developed in the UGC. High-end restaurants and retailers in Southern California and UGC are demanding high quality fish from sustainable sources. However, they have very specific requirements on how the fish they want needs to be handled. Therefore, in June 2018 WWF-Mexico organized a meeting between chefs and retailers of San Diego and Valle de Guadalupe, and the fishermen in Puertecitos. This meeting was a unique opportunity for both parties to learn from each other, and especially to provide fisherman with the capabilities to successfully sell their high quality catch.
On July 23, 24 and 25 WWF Mexico and members of the ECOFT visited the facilities of the Marine Institute to test four different type of gear for shrimp to be used in the Upper Gulf of California. A modified gillnet with thinnest thread and open windows was tested. Results of these test indicate that in case of the interaction of vaquita and this gillnets, in regular operation conditions, will end with vaquita entanglement. Other three options were tested with very good options to succeed, one 35 ft trawl, one beam trawl and a modified Sinaloa cast net (suripera).
After the very successful experience in Scandinavia with the use of fish pots, in April 2018 WWF and INAPESCA, in collaboration with Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU) and the Technological University of Denmark (DTU), testes three different kind of traps in the Upper Gulf: bottom standings with two entrances, floating with one entrance and semi collapsable with one entrance. By increasing the fishing effort and with the appropriate buyers and price, this fishery could become profitable for the fishermen, and it could be implemented as a commercial fishery in the UGC in the future.