Protecting the Jewels of the Mexican Pacific: WILDCOAST and the Coral Conservation Network

Pez vieja de piedra (Bodianus diplotaenia), Cabo Pulmo, B. C. S.

In August 2023, the Coral Conservation Network of the Mexican Pacific Ocean, led by WILDCOAST, showcased its remarkable achievements in a report published in the prestigious Journal, Hidrobiológica from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Unidad Iztapalapa. The report dives into the critical work undertaken by the network in the period between 2016 and 2019, highlighting their efforts in the face of diverse threats to the corals of the Mexican Pacific Ocean.

The Coral Conservation Network operates under four pivotal strategies, focusing on Natural Protected Areas (NPAs) strengthening and management, capacity building for best tourism practices, evaluation of reef system conservation status, and environmental education and sensitization.

Corals in the Mexican Pacific confront a myriad of threats, including the impacts of climate change, El Niño, and ocean acidification. Massive tourism along the Pacific coast exacerbates these challenges, introducing pollution, property development, and detrimental tourism practices. WILDCOAST and partner organizations are actively addressing broader environmental issues, but the report emphasizes the need for short-term strategies to protect the corals.

WILDCOAST’s focus lies on the effective management of NPAs to mitigate tourism’s impact. The network comprises 20 key stakeholders from the Mexican Pacific region, including the National Park Service (CONANP), non-profit organizations, and academics. The ambitious program spans 10 National Parks, with three primary objectives:

  • Conserve 13,970,000 acres of coral ecosystems in the Mexican Pacific region.
  • Strengthen the management of 10 NPAs.
  • Mitigate short-term direct impacts on corals.

The network actively engages in sensitization and education on sustainable tourism practices, distributing informative guides and conducting workshops for tourism service providers. You can find an example of their outreach material here.

In 2016, WILDCOAST solidified collaboration with six NPAs, four research centers, and four NGOs to standardize coral monitoring methods. On the other hand, in 2020, we published the conservation status of corals in the Mexican Pacific, to have a baseline for coral monitoring.  The installation and maintenance of buoys, coupled with annual coral monitoring, provide crucial data for conservation efforts.

As guardians of the Mexican Pacific’s underwater treasures, WILDCOAST and the Coral Conservation Network exemplify a proactive approach to coral conservation. Their dedication to mitigating both long-term environmental threats and immediate impacts from tourism underscores the importance of collaborative efforts in preserving our oceans’ delicate ecosystems. Through strategic partnerships and community engagement, WILDCOAST continues to champion the cause of healthy, thriving oceans for generations to come.