Mexico is the primary global producer of ocean whitefish (Caulolatilus princeps) with 94% of national landings coming from the state of Baja California Sur. Nevertheless, there are no species-specific management measures in place for this fishery. The only management tool in place is fishing permits for finfish that specify the number of boats and gear that can be used per permit holder.
The fishing cooperative Buzos y Pescadores de la Baja California S.C.L. located on Isla Natividad, Baja California Sur have demonstrated their commitment to sustainability through the establishment of marine reserves in collaboration with Comunidad y Biodiversidad, A. C. (COBI), MSC certification of their lobster fishery, Seafood Watch green rating of their yellowtail fishery, and a restoration program for abalone in collaboration with the state government and academia. In recent years, they have shown an increased interest in developing more sustainable finfish fisheries, such as ocean whitefish.
A relatively new fishery, the directed catch of ocean whitefish started in 2011 as an economic alternative to high-value benthic fisheries that have been declining in recent years. The cooperatives initial production of 3.7 T in 2011 increased to 13.4 T in 2016 and is expected to increase further as demand grows. As a result, the cooperative approached SmartFish in 2017, expressing their interest in conducting a fisheries improvement project. The FIP is exclusive to boats belonging to the cooperative Buzos y Pescadores that fish with handlines and traps.
In the winter of 2017 Pronatura Noreste conducted a Marine Stewardship Council pre-assessment of the Isla Natividad ocean whitefish fishery. The main concerns identified by the preliminary assessment were the lack of a formal stock assessment and bycatch management strategy. The status of habitats and ecosystem impacts were identified as minor concerns; however, the potential impact of fishing gear needs to be evaluated.
In addition, SmartFish A.C. is working to improve access to markets that value sustainability and implement digital traceability.
Mexico is the primary global producer of ocean whitefish (Caulolatilus princeps) with 94% of national landings coming from the state of Baja California Sur.
- Generate basic fishery information and implement a monitoring program by 2019
- Investigate possible ecosystem impacts and interactions with other fisheries by 2019
- Develop and implement species-specific management for ocean whitefish by 2021
- Design a decision-making process in the fishery by 2019
- Increase the supply of sustainable seafood that the cooperative can offer to markets interested in sustainability by 2021
- Promote sustainable finfish fisheries in Mexico by 2021
FIP at a Glance