Santa Rosalia Fisheries

Assessment of Marine Species and Fisheries and Potential to Create Sustainable Fisheries

& Business Opportunities for Local Residents in the Region of Santa Rosalía, México



Minera y Metalurgica del Boleo (MMB)


  • Local fishermen and fishing permit holders (Permisionarios)
  • Ecologists Without Borders (EcoWB)
  • Instituto Technológico Superior de Mulegé (ITESME)
  • Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas del Instituto Politécnico Nacional (CICIMAR)

Team Members:

  • Cleve Steward, EcoWB Project Director
  • Silvia Elena Rivera Valle, EcoWB Project Administrator
  • José Carrasquero, EcoWB Technical Liaison
  • Dr. Mauricio Ramírez-Rodríguez, Project Manager
  • Dr. Agustín Hernández Herrera, Assistant Project Manager



Due to the geographic isolation of central Baja California, and  the general lack of basic infrastructure and income-generating opportunities (with the exception of the MMB copper mine in Santa Rosalia), many local residents must rely on fishing for food and income. Historically, artisanal fisheries in this region have provided much needed protein and nutrients to local residents. However, fish stocks appear to be dwindling and adjustments are needed if productivity and harvests are to be sustained over the long-term. Little is known of the social, economic, and biological impacts of small-scale fishing in the region. To effectively manage the fisheries for the benefit of local residents, information is needed on the fish populations and the associated fisheries. Analysis of this information, along with input from local fishermen, will help guide the development of fishing strategies and related business opportunities that can be implemented to benefit local fishermen and their families.

This three-year project is generously funded by MMB. Under the supervision of Drs. Ramírez and Hernández,  CICIMAR fisheries biologists, ITESME students, and EcoWB volunteers will collect and analyze catch and effort data for small-scale fisheries that take place in the Central Western region of the Gulf of California between the ports of Santa Rosalía and Mulegé. Species of interest include giant squid, Pacific crevalle jack, chub mackerel, leopard grouper, sharks and octopus. Working closely with local fishermen, the EcoWB team will be able to recommend measures that would improve the long-term sustainability of regional marine fisheries and enhance the local economy.




The project consists of three phases, each lasting approximately 12 months, as described below.

Phase 1 ­– Compile and present available information on local fisheries and harvested species

The primary objective of Phase 1 is to engage local fishermen and conduct initial research and analysis to assess the state of fisheries and fish stocks in the vicinity of Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur, México.

Phase 1 comprises four tasks:

  • Task 1.1 – Compile available information on local fisheries and harvested species (ongoing).
  • Task 1.2 – Present information and project objectives at Workshop #1 (completed in 2013).
  • Task 1.3 – Solicit/compile additional unpublished information on local fisheries and harvested species (ongoing).
  • Task 1.4 – Prepare draft report on local fisheries and harvested species (ongoing).

Phase 2 – Evaluate status of local fisheries and harvested species, and identify opportunities to promote sustainable fisheries

The primary objective of Phase 2 is to evaluate the status and trend of recreational and commercial fisheries and species in the Santa Rosalía area, based on data and information assembled in Phase 1, and additional information gathered in Phase 2, relative to several socioeconomic and biological indicators (performance measures) of sustainability.

Phase 2 comprises four tasks:

  • Task 2.1 – Present Phase 1 findings at Workshop #2.
  • Task 2.2 – Evaluate status and trend of local fisheries and fish species relative to sustainability indices.
  • Task 2.3 – Identify opportunities, best practices, incentives and constraints for sustainable fisheries.
  • Task 2.4 – Produce draft report.

Phase 3 – Prepare Socioeconomic and Business Analysis for a Summary Report and Implementation Plan

The primary objective of Phase 3 is to present the findings of Phases 2 and 3 to local fishermen and other stakeholders, and to solicit their feedback on preferred options and their implementation. A draft project report will be prepared, and after review and revision, published as a final report.

Phase 3 comprises five tasks:

  • Task 3.1 – Present Phase 2 findings at Workshop #3 in Santa Rosalía.
  • Task 3.2 – Finalize report.
  • Task 3.3 – Prepare a Fisheries Implementation Plan.
  • Task 3.4 – Pursue additional funding opportunities.
  • Task 3.5 – Disseminate project findings.



CICIMAR fisheries researchers Ramírez and Hernández were contacted in 2013 to manage the project. Several meetings were held to finalize the scope of work, solicit input from local residents, and establish roles and responsibilities of project partners. Local fishermen and fishing permit holders were invited to a workshop in Santa Rosalía in November 2013 to learn about the project. The results of a preliminary analysis of the small-scale fisheries that take place in the Central Western region of the Gulf of California between the ports of Santa Rosalía and Mulegé were presented at the workshop. Based on available information, the total average annual catch in this region between 1999 and 2010 was 28,132 metric tons. Giant squid comprised 95% of the catch. However, this decreased in 2009 and 2010 to 16,000 metric tons, almost half of 2008’s catch, causing changes in the structure of the regional fisheries. The lowest catch, occurring in 1998 (80 metric tons), was likely related to the El Niño phenomenon, and had serious consequences on the regional economy. Other fisheries of interest include Pacific crevalle jack, chub mackerel, leopard grouper, sharks and octopus, each with its own fishing techniques.

Separate training sessions were conducted with ITESME and CICIMAR students who will collect fish catch and fish biometrics data beginning in February, 2014.

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Ecologists without Borders

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