Programa de Ecología Pesquera.

Fisheries Ecology:

Research lines


Strategic Line I

Effects of Fishing on Socio-environmental Systems

Responsible: Dr. Jesús Rodríguez Romero

Human activities, directly or indirectly, are one of the principal causes of changes in marine biodiversity and in the past, have been referred to as critical environmental topics. In 1995 the Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources, defined five agents relevant to changes in marine biodiversity, from the level of genetic changes in populations, to the ecosystems level; among is them fishing. By themselves or combined, these human disturbances can lead to changes in energy flows and many other alterations in the structure and function of ecosystems.

Strategic Line II

Exploration, Measurement and Sustainable Development of New Fisheries

Responsible: Dr. Juan Antonio de Anda Montañez

It's recognized that in Mexico many of the fisheries resources are at their limit or exceeding sustainable levels. In spite of this, it can be affirmed that the country has not taken full advantage of its fisheries resources, and that there is still management leeway for the massive potential resources which are found principally in areas of high biological productivity, such as the West Coast of the Baja California Peninsula and the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez).

Strategic Line III

Variability and Vulnerability in Marine Ecosystems

Responsible: Dr. Arturo Fabián Eduardo Muhlia Melo

Although for many years it has been clear that humans and climatic variations have the capacity to affect marine ecosystems, we currently face-- urgently-- the uncertainty about what will be the responses of these ecosystems to the impending increase in pressure from humans and climate fluctuations, and of how to identify and evaluate them in time. To address this difficult task, during recent decades increasingly diverse foci, tools and disciplines have been incorporated into marine ecology. The topic that we address as Strategic Line, is born out of the pending internal agenda from the last three years of work, in which different studies and projects for evaluation of costal ecosystems and the analysis of vulnerability to environmental variations and pressure from fishing, shared the common denominator of lacking clear and comparable indicators of the health status of those ecosystems. Among the enormous information gaps that still exist, within the topics of biodiversity and ecosystem vulnerability two important questions stand out:

  • To what point are we able to measure biodiversity in marine ecosystems?
  • How much can we predict the role of biodiversity in the function and vulnerability of coastal ecosystems in the Mexican Northwest?

For this reason, beginning in 2009 the Strategic Line workgroup will apply varying techniques through different periods of the year and different ecosystems of Baja California Sur, to detect and evaluate the widest range of events including hidden diversity, in order to answer those questions scientifically: we will explore the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function, with special emphasis on the type of system, environmental pressure and anthropogenic pressure.

The estimation of biodiversity in two dimensions (bidimensional biodiversity) and the integration of diversity in taxonomic and trophic domains, will be the principal tools for evaluating ecosystem vulnerability.

This line is focused on providing economic value for fishery products, promoting their comprehensive use and implementing technologies based on scientific knowledge. Addressed topics relate to alternative uses for low-value fishery products and subproducts of the fishing industry, as well as identification of marine organism biomolecules of interest to different industries (biomaterials), and extending the shelf life of marine products.

The northwestern region of Mexico has the highest fishery production of the country.

The most developed fisheries industries of the country (shrimp, tuna, sardine) are found in this region, as well as the largest deep-sea and coastal sportfishing fleets. Fisheries in the zone present notable problems including excessive fleet size, social conflicts over resource access, overharvesting, increasing fishery effort, diminishing harvests, low economic yield and quality demands from international markets which demand quality products and sustainability of the activity as conditions of access. These problems derive in large part from the lack of focus on comprehensive and sustainable management of the activity.