Saturday, 26 May, 2018

Magdalena Bay: habitat diversity sustains fisheries

Ellis Copeland | 23 October, 2017, 07:01

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The lagoon complex Bahia Magdalena-Clams (BMA) is one of the most biodiverse lagoon ecosystems in the state of Baja California Sur, making it an attractive location for ecotourism and fishing High productivity prevails most of the year as a result of the diversity of marine and coastal habitats: mangroves, dunes, sand bars, islands, deep water areas, seagrass beds and a network of canals (1). Moreover, this diversity of habitats attracts protected species such as gray whales and sea turtles, and it's also an important breeding and feeding site for birds (2). The communities of BMA depend on marine resources for their survival, therefore understanding the relationship between fisheries and the ecosystem will help us understand the impact that fisheries have on the performance of other economic activities (eg ecotourism) that take palce in the same areas.

Slices of nature | seen by a young photographer
We took good walks looking for the endemic pigeons and trying to raise a scholarship, although with the latter we did not succeed. The two areas I liked very much, although the days were all sunny and we could not see them with the typical atmosphere of fog.


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Using GIS mapping techniques, we identified the distribution of fishing activity, while fishermen helped us record fish catches and income for each fishery. The innovative use of technology has become fundamental to the study of fisheries. We use the descriptions of marine habitats made by Rioja-Nieto et al (5) and GIS information on mangrove forests from the National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) to show the different habitats in BMA (6). In addition, we conducted 100 interviews with fishermen to: a) validate fisheries information generated since 2012 with GPS Tracker devices; and b) identify important areas for priority species (whales, sea turtles, and nesting and feeding seabirds).

We identified five types of habitats associated with these fisheries: 1) mangroves; 2) macroalgae; 3) seagrass; 4) sandy areas; 5) deep water areas. The Pacific geoduck is associated with macroalgae and sandy habitats. Shrimp are caught in areas close to mangroves, seagrass beds, and sandy areas ranging from 6 to 50 meters deep. Our information indicates that crab is caught in areas close to the mangroves and canals with abundant seagrass. To catch different species of finfish, fishermen travel to both deeper waters, as well as waters close to the mangrove.

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