November 22, 2022
Featured image: Roca Partida Islet (c) Alberto Lebrija
Established in November 2017, the Revillagigedo National Park is Mexico’s and North America’s largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) at 148,087 square kilometers (57,177 square miles) and is safeguarded from industrial fishing and other extractive activities (The Pew Charitable Trusts). At the time, members of the local fishing industry raised concerns about the negative impact a no-take policy could have on their catch. However, scientists have noted growing biodiversity in Revillagigedo’s waters – news that is good for everybody, both fish and fishermen.
International marine conservation nonprofit Mission Blue recognizes Mario Gomez, founder of Beta Diversidad (a Mexican NGO), as the new Champion of the Revillagigedo Archipelago Hope Spot. Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of Mission Blue, says, “I had the pleasure of seeing Mario in action as he led the work of organized civil society that ended with the creation of Revillagigedo National Park in November 2017.” She continues, “Having a new Champion join us to support the work that is taking place in the National Park really helps enhance public awareness and support.”
A group of multidisciplinary institutions, including Beta Diversidad and the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), is conducting a baseline study to document populations of marine life that live and migrate through the Revillagigedo National Park. Since the creation of the MPA just five years ago, Gomez and his partners have noted growing biodiversity in the National Park. Dr. Earle says, “Little by little, it has shown that highly and fully protected areas truly are what I like to call ‘savings accounts.’ In a short time, thanks to science, we will verify the spillover effect of this MPA.”
Existing research shows these species migrate between Revillagigedo to places including the Gulf of California, Cabo Pulmo, and Mazatlan in Mexico, Alaska, British Columbia, Hawaii, and Southern California, and other locations throughout the Eastern Tropical Pacific.
The connectivity between these sites and potential connectivity to places such as the Galapagos in Ecuador and Cocos Island in Costa Rica marks the importance of establishing strong protections for the Revillagigedo Archipelago. Animals like whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), Galapagos shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis) and giant manta rays (Mobula birostris) are found here, along with more than 360 species of fish, 26 of which are found nowhere else on Earth.
Having a comprehensive, expanded MPA that offers full protection to the entire area will safeguard marine life between the gaps of the Revillagigedo National Park and other MPAs in the ETP.
Gomez says, “This MPA is the new model of conservation in the world and one I hope the rest of the world will copy.”
Dr. Earle adds her thoughts, “The Revillagigedo Archipelago is the blue heart of the Mexican seas”, she says. “The creatures that live here are why marine protection is so vital.”
About Beta Diversidad
Beta Diversidad is a Mexican NGO, created in 2004, focused on biodiversity conservation projects (marine and terrestrial). Specifically in Protected Natural Areas. For more information: @betadiversidad