Marine and Coastal Conservation Exchange (MCCE)
Cabo Pulmo, in the state of Baja California Sur, is an outstanding example of community-led conservation success. It serves as a proof of concept that can be replicated in the MAR region. It represents an innovative, non-extractive model for the Blue Economy1. This success is attributed, among other things, to the policy adopted 24 years ago by the federal government and the Cabo Pulmo community to conserve its marine resources under a Natural Protected Area in the category of National Park. The community collectively put its fishing gear down and was able to build an alternative livelihood. Its inhabitants found in sustainable tourism an advantageous livelihood alternative. Cabo Pulmo National Park is nationally and internationally recognized for the biomass increase of wildlife concerning that existing before its decree. “It is clear that the people of Cabo Pulmo’s desire for sustainability and conservation spawned a thriving ecosystem and economy, instilling a deeply rooted sense of pride and responsibility for the marine world in the community”.
On the other hand, the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR), the largest cross bordering barrier reef in the world and one of the wealthiest and most diverse ecosystems, has accomplished significant advances to promote a Blue Economy that guarantees a permanent natural capital for the sustainable development of coastal communities. International and local organizations in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras committed to the conversation of the MAR continually face threats such as coastal development, overfishing, terrestrial contamination, and climate change. Nevertheless, they have aligned their visions to create a Blue Economy development model adopting a systemic focus to canalize resources to the region and safeguard its natural capital.
Through the Mesoamerican Reef Leadership Program by the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature, along with its allies, MARFund, LegacyWorks Group, Lindblad Expeditions, and Overbrook Foundation are developing essential initiatives to achieve sustainability within the Gulf of California and within the MAR region. One initiative is the Marine and Coastal Conservation Exchange (MCCE) between these two regions that took place 14-18 May in Cabo Pulmo, BCS, Mexico. The objective of the MCCE was to enhance the successes and lessons learned in both the Gulf of California and the Mesoamerican Reef region to strengthen and improve the conservation, protection, and restoration of marine and coastal ecosystems while improving the livelihood of local communities.
Forty people are participating in the meeting from which 14 are MAR Fellows of the 2018 cohort from Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Quintana Roo. Themes discussed included the process of establishing and managing Cabo Pulmo National Park and other MPAS in the MAR region and the role of science and the local community within Cabo Pulmo’s success. Experts on communication campaigns from the Gulf of California Cabo Pulmo’s will explain how the media and social networks helped to defend Cabo Pulmo from massive tourism developers. By the end of the meeting, a round table with Cabo Pulmo community members and the National Commission on Protected Areas (CONANP) will be held to discuss the challenges and future of Cabo Pulmo given the high demand from the tourism sector.
¡Big thanks to our friend in Cabo Pulmo for your hospitality and for sharing your knowledge with us. Congratulations to all of you for a successful and inspiring model of community development. Hope to see you in the Mesoamerican Reef!
Mario Castro sharing Cabo Pulmo's story