At a time when Donald Trump is trying to remove most environmental protections put in place by previous administrations, the Mexican government has gone ahead and created the largest marine reserve in North America.
The protected area will cover 150,00 square kilometers (58,000 square miles) of ocean and will surround the Revillagigedo Islands. The islands are a group of four volcanic islands located in the Pacific that are famous for their unique ecosystems that are often referred to as the “Galapagos of North America.”
The reserve will ban human activities like mining, building new hotels and fishing. The areas diverse ecosystem is a huge breeding ground for thousands of species including commercially fished species such as tuna. By protecting these breeding grounds, the depleted amount of tuna should be able to rebound in numbers to help propel their numbers upwards.
The oceans have been damaged severely from population growth and irresponsible practices. Plastic pollution, coral bleaching, noise pollution, oil spills, warming waters and over fishing. The problems caused by humans will not go away but the problems marine species face will significant decline due to the new reserve.
The exciting news was announced by Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto. During the statement, Peña Nieto said that the Mexican government was reaffirming its “commitment to the preservation of the heritage of Mexico and the world”.
Marine reserves are often very difficult to police and protect due to the nature of the open ocean and vast size. Often reserves are not as protected as they need to be but the Mexican government as affirmed that the Mexican navy will be police the reserve and prevent activities such as illegal fishing.
The Revillagigedo Islands ecosystem is located where two ocean currents converge and home to a diverse group of 400 species fish, rays and sharks. Due to the convergence of the two currents, it is a haven for migratory birds and open-water animals such as humpback whales.
Mario Gómez, executive director of Mexican environmental charity Beta Diversidad, told The Guardian: “We are proud of the protection we will provide to marine life in this area, and for the preservation of this important center of connectivity of species migrating throughout the Pacific.”
Mexico’s decision to create this Marine reserve is an exciting and encouraging one. By setting an example for the rest of the world, the precedent they are setting will hopefully lead to more change and reserves.
[H/T: The Guardian]