8 Jun 2007

Pressure from within the Calderon Administration May Force Changes to Shark Norma (NOM-029)

On Wednesday the Mexican fisheries agency, Conapesca, issued a press release in response to urgent advocacy efforts within sectors of the Mexican government by TBF and our Mexican conservation partners, including tens of thousands emails sent in opposition to the recently enacted "Shark Norma" – NOM-029. TBF, La Fundacion para la Conservacion de los Picudos (FCP), Seawatch and other conservation organizations have asked for specific changes in the regulations to prevent a new wave of longlining effort in the waters of the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez. The press release attempts to downplay criticisms and states that changes will be made to the new regulations to prohibit the commercialization of billfish and cites Mexican fisheries law (Articulo 13, La Ley de Pesca) to clarify that species protected by the 50 mile conservation zones are reserved for the exclusive use of the sport fishery and may not be taken by other than recreational fishing gear.

“We are pleased to see evidence that rational minds within the administration have looked to correct this terrible rulemaking effort by Conapesca,” said TBF’s Chief Scientist Dr. Russell Nelson, “but unfortunately experience has shown that promises made by Senor Corral are to be taken with a grain of salt.”

In December of 2003, at the beginning of his tenure as Mexico’s fisheries head, Ramon Corral announced that Mexico would ban longlines, factory ships, large drift gillnets and rescind all permits allowing any taking of billfish and dorado following scientific presentations on the impacts of longline and drift gillnet gear in La Paz and Cabo San Lucas. These actions never occurred. In January of this year, Corral and his senior staff met with Mexican Senator Luis Coppola, Nelson, Guillermo Alvarez of FCP, and Alejandro Robles representing a coalition of Mexican conservation groups focused on the Sea of Cortez. There he promised that the Shark Norma would not go into effect until new research was conducted to look at its biological impacts. “Corral announced the implementation of the new regulations as we were involved with scientists in La Paz developing a work plan to analyze the impacts,” said Nelson.

“We no longer can deal in good faith with Conapesca,” said TBF President Ellen Peel. "We are going to keep up the pressure on this issue until it is dealt with by Senator Coppola, Chair of the Tourism committee in the Mexican Senate, and we are still calling for a suspension of NOM-029 until all the required changes are formally in place.”

Click here for details on the Shark Norma and TBF's position.

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