THE BAJA POST
As the afternoon began to fall on Friday, January 25, 2019, the fishing vessel Benito García entered the Revillagigedo National Park, the largest marine reserve in North America, located in the Mexican Pacific and where fishing is prohibited. The boat entered through the north slowed down and when it was 33 nautical miles from Roca Partida Island, it stopped. There she remained for at least nine hours. In the early hours of Saturday, he left the protected natural area.
It was only for a few hours.
The Mexican flag boat dedicated to shark fishing re-entered the park’s polygon on Saturday afternoon. That day she got even closer to Roca Partida, an area designated by scientists as a concentration point for sharks, tunas, and giant mantas. There she settled for two days.
It was until 10:00 p.m. on Monday, January 28, 2019, that the ship left the park, according to data from the Satellite Monitoring System for Fishing Vessels (SISMEP) and route reports that Mongabay Latam obtained through requests for information. made to the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (Conapesca) and the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (Conanp).
The Benito García vessel is not the only one that has carried out suspicious fishing activities within the 14,808,780 hectares of the Revillagigedo National Park, a marine reserve considered by researchers as an “exceptional” place because, among other things, it houses the largest aggregations of mantas giants and sharks.
Since November 27, 2017, when the Mexican government declared Revillagigedo a national park and prohibited all types of fishing in its waters, at least 18 vessels have carried out suspicious fishing activities.
These vessels were identified by analyzing the reports of ships that entered Revillagigedo -obtained through information requests-, as well as the SISMEP data that the Oceana-Mexico organization obtained since 2018, thanks to the Federal Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information. The Global Fishing Watch platform was also consulted, which allows visualizing the trajectories of those fishing vessels that have the Automatic Identification System (AIS, for its acronym in English).
The vessels that were identified slowed considerably when they were inside the park changed their trajectory within the area and several of them even remained in one place for several hours. Fishing within the Revillagigedo National Park is not only an environmental crime. Scientists researching the area agree that this activity compromises the population and the future of marine species, such as sharks, which are vital to maintaining the ecological balance of the ocean.