At least five marine species are at risk due to overfishing in Mexican waters, a non-governmental organization has warned.
After conducting an audit of the fishing industry in Mexico, the ocean conservation organization Oceana said that red snapper, grouper, bluefin tuna, sharks and octopus are all endangered due to overexploitation.
The NGO said the failure to update the National Fishing Charter (CNP), a document that details which species are at risk, has allowed the endangered species to continue to be caught in large quantities when their fishing should have been restricted.
The National Fisheries Institute (Inapesca) has updated the CNP only six times since the year 2000 when it should have been updated annually, Oceana said.
The charter sets regulations for 735 different marine species in 83 different fisheries, of which fishing in 66 – or 80% of the total – is currently subject to restrictions.
However, Oceana said that overfishing in those fisheries continues to occur.
Esteban García-Peña, the organization’s Mexico director, said that in addition to Inapesca’s shortcomings, the National Aquaculture and Fisheries Commission (Conapesca) has granted permits for the fishing of grouper, bluefin tuna and red snapper during the closed season for those species.
Oceana said it is the responsibility of Inapesca to notify Conapesca about the overexploitation but noted there is a lack of communication and collaboration between the two agencies.
Another factor contributing to overfishing is the significant increase in the number of fishing boats.
Between 2011 and 2018, statistics show, 2,670 new vessels began operations even as fish stocks were in decline.
The Secretariat of Agriculture (Sader) said in a statement this week that it had detected irregularities in the granting of new fishing permits by Conapesca in the years before the new government took office last December.
Between 2007 and 2018 – a period encompassing the terms of the last two federal governments – the number of fishing licenses granted increased exponentially when they should have been restricted.
Sader said that “presumed acts of corruption” in Conapesca have been referred to the relevant authorities.
Around 295,000 people are directly engaged in fishing in Mexico and the sector generates revenue in excess of 38 billion pesos (US $2 billion) a year.
But Oceana warned that the livelihoods of those employed in the industry are threatened by the “scant availability of species to fish.”
The NGO said it is crucial for the government to implement “strategies and actions for the protection and restoration” of overexploited fisheries.
Oceana director García-Peña contended that “fishing blindly, as we say is occurring in the fishing sector in this country, puts food security at stake.”