Conserving marine and coastal biodiversity in the Gulf of California

Coronado Island, Bahía de Loreto National Park; Photo: Richard Jackson

Coronado Island, Bahía de Loreto National Park; Photo: Richard Jackson

After almost six years of implementation (2012-2018), the Programme for Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine and Coastal Biodiversity in the Gulf of California, Mexico – referred to in short as ‘BioMar’ – formally ends its activities and presents its main results in a video and on an online platform vorgestellt (Spanish and English).


Bahía de Loreto National Park; Photo: Richard JacksonThe Gulf of California is a unique place due to its abundant biodiversity. This includes 25% of all marine mammal species, almost 900 fish species, and 898 islands. The region, however, also relies on a variety of touristic and fishing activities, which pose a series of challenges and threats, such as unregulated productive activities, the incidental capture of endangered species such as the vaquita, the smallest of all porpoises, and unsustainable coastal development.

In this context, the BioMar Programme focused its work on 18 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the region. Its main objective was to improve the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity in the Gulf of California. The programme was structured in four complementary components: Protected Area Management, Replicating Best Practices, Conservation and Use Mechanisms, and Creating a Shared Vision.

One of the programme’s most important achievements was the development of five strategic plans for clusters of MPAs in the Gulf of California. These clusters promoted synergies and fostered cooperation between authorities and other key actors involved in the management of natural resources in and around the MPAs of the Gulf of California. BioMar also set up a base line of Scorecards, a methodology to assess the environmental condition on Marine Protected Areas, for all 18 MPAs in the Gulf of California to evaluate the status and trends of the MPAs’ ecosystems within the region.

Manta ray; Photo: Carlos AguileraThe programme also promoted the replication of best practices of 15 successful models of conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity. One of these models focused on strengthening a network of environmental promoters in the states of Sonora, Sinaloa, Nayarit, Baja California and Baja California Sur. Through this network, environmental educators have shared their experiences and lessons learned. Through a participatory process, they have designed an Environmental Education Kit which is now being used as a valuable tool in their work with schools and fishermen all across the region.

The programme took advantage of different conservation and use mechanisms such as Destination Agreements, a policy for the conservation of the coasts and its mangroves under which a concession is granted to a government agency, in this case, the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas of Mexico (CONANP). Through this instrument, the programme requested and received for CONANP a surface of 1,234 km of coastline of the Federal Marine Zone and 131,312 hectares of coastal ecosystems such as mangroves and marshes.

Five supporting studies were prepared for the creation of new protected areas for a total of 454,863 ha. These areas were approved by CONANP and are currently in a processing phase until they are created.

Online platform presenting good practice examples and other approaches

The BioMar Programme was implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and CONANP on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) through the International Climate Initiative (IKI).

Coral reef (left); Silvertip shark (right); Photos: Carlos Aguilera