New MPAs in Mexico protect vents, whale sharks

From the MPA News:

In June, Mexico designated its first deep sea marine protected area around two hydrothermal vent systems in the Gulf of California and the Eastern Pacific Rise.  The newly designated Guaymas Basin and Eastern Pacific Rise Hydrothermal Vents Sanctuary covers 1456 km2 of benthic habitat, as well as the portion of the water column deeper than 500 meters below the surface.  Above that, the waters remain open to fishing.

“This new deep sea MPA model represents a proof of concept to be further expanded to protect other benthic habitats where fisheries interests prevent the protection of the entire water column,” says Juan Bezaury Creel of The Nature Conservancy – Mexico Program.

The two vent systems that comprise the MPA present a distinct ecosystem.  At least 41 species of invertebrates and 2 species of vertebrates are present at both sites.  Of these, at least 8 species are endemic to Mexican hydrothermal vents.

On the same day, the Mexican government designated two more MPAs:

  • The 306-km2 Lobos-Tuxpan Reef System Flora and Fauna Protection Area in the state of Veracruz, containing the country’s northernmost Gulf of Mexico coral reefs; and
  • The 1460-km2 Whale Shark Biosphere Reserve, on the Yucatan Shelf, that protects one of the world’s largest concentrations of whale sharks.