The narrow sea sandwiched between the Baja California peninsula and the Mexico mainland was once nicknamed the “aquarium of the world” by ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau. The Gulf of California is home to a wealth of marine life, and today serves as a source of fascination for scientists as well as scuba divers.
It’s also beset by overfishing, pollution and illegal fishing, despite government regulation and the creation of protected areas.
“Illegal fishing doesn’t follow any such regulations, and the results are incredibly damaging,” Edgardo Ochoa, Conservation International’s marine and diving safety officer, describes in a new blog post for Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). “In particular,” Ochoa says, “the use of inadequate fishing gear and not reporting discarded or lost fishing gear have major consequences in this area, and are especially harmful to the populations of sea lions, sea turtles and whales that live here.”
Thankfully, he says, all hope is not lost.
“Never before have we had the knowledge, technology and resources we have now to revert the damage and to plan for the future,” Ochoa says.
Morgan Lynch is a staff writer for Conservation International.
Cover image: Playa San Nicolás in the Gulf of California. (© José Eugenio Gómez Rodríguez)