Scientists Monitor Fisheries In Mexico To Protect Ecosystems - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Scientists Monitor Fisheries In Mexico To Protect Ecosystems

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Sharks, sting rays and ocean creatures big and small - they're all affected by humans, especially when it comes to the way we fish. Scientists here in San Diego are collaborating with researchers in Baja to figure out what can be done to keep the oceans healthy south of the border.

Doctor Oscar Sosa, professor at Cicese, the Center of Scientific Research and Graduate Studies of Ensenada, is sharing his plan for a sustainable fishery that includes sharks, rays and fish.

"What we are trying to do is learn more about the artisinal fisheries in the western coast of the Baja California peninsulas, this mostly thinking on what they are fishing on when we think of sharks and rays. So what we want to do is to learn more of what kind of species they are fishing on, what is the biology of those species and try to help manage them, the fisheries," Sosa said.

"So we have an idea of how many sharks are coming in at the tonage, but we don't know what species they are, we don't know the seasonality of these fisheries so we have a handle on how they're regulated," Scripps Institution of Oceanography graduate student Dan Cartamil said.

Doctor Sosa says the number of sharks being caught has increased considerably in recent years, especially in northwest Mexico.

"My biggest concern is that we can't stand the rate of development or we can stand the time, and then when the resources come down, what is going to happen. So we are trying to manage what we are finding at the field and show them how we are doing the things this is a green flag, this is a yellow flag, or even this is a red flag for managing the fishery," Sosa said.

There is no overnight solution, but collaboration between scientists and fishermen is key.

"I think part of the answer will be to be able to find out how we can use certain gears or modify existing fisheries so that they take species that are more sustainable or that they take species that are more abundant or they only fish in seasons that those species are available," Cartamil said.

"The sharks are difficult to manage because they grow slow, and lower fertility and longer lifespan and the combination of these three things it makes it difficult to manage, but you can manage if you still have knowledge of the biology. But we need the support of the fisherman and they take care of the population correctly so you can do it with a lot of knowledge and support from the fisherman," Sosa said.

This is an ongoing study efforted by grad students and professors on both sides of the border. The goal is to continue learning about what the small and large scale fisheries are bringing to market. Scientists can use that information to better regulate things like the species of fish and type of fishing gear used.

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