United NationsDepartamento de Asuntos Económicos y Sociales Desarrollo Sostenible

Strengthening Multi-sector governance and stewardship for implementation and design of Fisheries ordering and integrated management plans in two ecosystems in the Northern Gulf of California, Mexico.

Centro Intercultural de Estudios de Desiertos y Océanos (

    Coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) was implemented in the Puerto Peñasco- Puerto Lobos, Sonora Coastal Corridor in Mexico. CMSP is a decision-making approach that brings together stakeholders to plan for the sustainable use of marine and coastal resources while balancing diverse economic interests and addressing ecosystem health, function, and services. The process was led by CEDO, the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans, a non-governmental, Mexico-US binational organization. CEDO’s mission is to foster vibrant communities and resilient ecosystems in the Northern Gulf of California and other ecoregions by integrating people, knowledge, and solutions.


    The CMSP aimed to produce a ten-year integrated management plan for the Coastal Corridor that would reduce conflicts, build stewardship, and improve fisheries management by bringing together resource users, scientists, and managers. The first phase focused on artisanal fisheries. The project addresses four of the SDGs: Zero hunger, decent work and economic growth, responsible consumption and production, and promoting the sustainable use of the oceans.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    CMSP is a participatory process to meet the immediate needs of coastal communities. CMSP has demonstrated success as an ecosystem-based management tool that can benefit vulnerable ecosystems and the diverse stakeholders that depend on them, giving priority to traditional local users, such as artisanal fishermen, It also established inclusive partnerships among all users who share a vision and objectives focused on supporting people and their ecosystems. We at CEDO believe that a strong, sustainable economy can and should co-exist with our most ambitious conservation goals, and while the management proposal has great potential in terms of safeguarding biodiversity and habitats, its ultimate purpose is to strengthen user rights, achieve food security, and increase economic benefits for fishermen and the entire production chain. These objectives all align with the worldwide goals set forth in the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity at the Aichi Convention and Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030.

    Implementation methodologies

    This first phase of the Coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) consisted of the following stages: (1) defining the scale and boundaries of the system; (2) establishing a governance structure and capacity building; (3) developing spatially-explicit management instruments; (4) preparing an integrated management plan; (5) formalizing and implementing. The governance structure included the creation of an Intercommunity Fisher Group (IFG), a base technical team, a technical advisory committee and a core group of government authorities relevant to fisheries management. Together, these actors developed different fisheries management tools to organize the spatial use of eleven species exploited by artisanal fisheries. Fishers were elected to represent their communities in the IFG and engaged through workshops to analyze information. The project included capacity building activities and extensive communication that helped ensure broad coverage and understanding of the goals of the coastal corridor and the proposed management tools. The management tools developed included a network of fisheries refuges, areas for local management, catch quotas, and proposals for regulating fishing effort. They were designed using a variety of modeling approaches that combined the best available science with Local Ecological Knowledge. The recommendations and management tools were captured into an Integrated Management Plan and a proposal for the establishment of Fisheries Refuges which were submitted to the corresponding state and federal government agencies.


    This CMSP participatory process brought together all stakeholders of a defined geographic area to plan for the sustainable use of the shared space and resources, balancing diverse economic interests with the protection of productive habitats and biodiversity, to achieve integrated management for an area. This CMSP project incorporated local knowledge and scientific data and applied state of the art software tools to design the fisheries management instruments, providing a robust scientific framework. The project designed Locally Managed Marine Areas focused on murex snail and brown crab which can be managed together and a network of 26 Fisheries Refuges. Given the intense involvement of fishers in collection and analysis of data and of Fisheries managers and representatives from State and Federal agencies in analyzing the fisheries management tools, there was a high level of confidence in the validity of the results. The open and participatory process applied has increased the potential for commitment and compliance of fishers and adds to its potential success in achieving goals. The integrated approach which used multiple management tools and counted on a multi-sectoral collaboration between communities, government, and NGO validation, are an important example of CMSP implementation in Mexico. As a result of this open and participatory process of stake holders carried out, to date the implementation of 2 Fisheries Improvement Projects FIPs for swimming crab and white clam fisheries has been completed, as well as the development of the goldspotted sand bass FIP.

    Factors and Constraints

    The CMSP process was enabled by the active and informed participation of local communities in the design and implementation of management tools and the persistence of CEDO as a local actor that has worked to gain the trust of fishing communities. The biggest challenges faced during the implementation of this CMSP process were the socio-political context surrounding conservation of the critically endangered vaquita porpoise, in its area of distribution within the Upper and Northern Gulf of California, which has created uncertainty and the change of Federal administration in 2018 which brought its own set of priorities. This comprehensive approach would not have been possible without the multi-year financial support and vision of Mexican authorities and other national and international funders. The communities of the Corridor have shown great initiative with this program, but in order to reap the full benefits of their work they will require the continued commitment of the relevant government authorities, especially CONAPESCA and INAPESCA.

    Sustainability and replicability

    This project contributes to the goals of the above mentioned entities and recognizes that a sustainable ocean economy is necessary for the well-being of the population, prioritizing local coastal communities that depend upon the sea and coastal biodiversity. CEDO is continuing biological monitoring of the Fisheries Refuges network to establish a baseline that will serve to evaluate effectiveness. While the government organizes to take the next steps, communities are strengthening their voice and capacity to influence public policy by legally incorporating their intercommunity group and by voluntarily implementing management actions. Market interest in sustainable fisheries is growing around the world and the Corridor fisheries are receiving attention as a potential source through the registration of Fisheries Improvement Projects (FIP) making a public commitment to follow international sustainability standards for management of the blue crab and white clam fishery, in order to have access to preferential markets that improve their local economy.. for management of the blue crab and white clam fishery, in order to have access to preferential markets that improve their local economy.. We strongly believe that CMSP, as exemplified by CEDO’s unique approach, should be replicated with natural resource dependent communities throughout Mexico and beyond.

    COVID-19 Impact

    The impact of COVID-19 has made it difficult to achieve the implementation of the CMSP as originally planned, however, the technology gave us the opportunity to move forward and organize with the fisheries authorities to rethink how to move forward with the recommendations for the Corridor, although everything has been slower. COVID-19 has limited our ability to hold meetings and interact with fishermen and resource managers. Meetings are held online or outdoors, we found communities that do not have good internet and people with limited use of technology. On the other hand, the communities implemented activities of the Corridor's action plan on a voluntary basis, such as no-fishing zones and fishing closures. This year, together with the fishing leaders and authorities, we will elaborate the "Basic community protocol for working environments in COVID-free fisheries", supporting the reduction of contagions in their fishing activity

    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    26 October 1987 (start date)
    31 December 2025 (date of completion)
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