Archipiélago de Revillagigedo National Park (Parque Nacional)
From Live Science:
By Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | November 27, 2017
Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto designated an ocean region near the southwestern coast of Mexico as a protected area. Uniquely rich in marine biodiversity, the area is North America's largest marine reserve, at nearly 58,000 square miles (150,000 square kilometers).
On Friday (Nov. 24), President Nieto signed a decree to create the Revillagigedo Archipelago National Park in a region of the Pacific Ocean that surrounds four volcanic islands: Claríon, Roca Partida, Socorro and San Benedicto. The islands, which are uninhabited by people, are located about 240 miles (390 km) to the southwest of Cabo San Lucas, on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula.
Remarkably diverse communities of ocean life call these waters home. These organisms include four species of sea turtles, more than 37 species of sharks and rays, and at least 366 species of fish, dozens of which are found nowhere else on Earth, representatives of the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project (PBOLP) said in a statement. The PBOLP nonprofit collaborated with Mexican conservation organizations and federal officials to establish the reserve.
The Revillagigedo Archipelago also serves as an important route for migratory marine animals, such as seabirds, dolphins, whales, sea turtles, tunas and sharks, with humpback whales lingering in the area throughout the winter months, according to the statement.
Outstanding natural beauty
In July 2016, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized the archipelago as a World Heritage site in recognition of the area's outstanding natural beauty and importance as a habitat for threatened species, UNESCO officials announced that year in a statement. President Nieto's declaration prohibits gas and oil extraction, commercial fishing, and development for tourism in the area, ensuring that human activity will not disrupt the ecosystems, PBOLP Director Matt Rand told Live Science.
"This decree will create a gold standard for marine conservation, a sanctuary for ocean life," Rand said.
Around the archipelago, two ocean currents converge over seamounts, underwater mountain ranges on the seafloor. Volcanic peaks from these mountains emerge above sea level, forming the islands of the archipelago. Together, the seamounts, the movement of the currents and nutrients in the waters give rise to ecosystems where diverse species large and small can collect and thrive, Rand explained.
Actions that protect Earth's ocean environments are critically important right now, he said. In recent years, much of the world's oceans have undergone worrying drops in top predatory fish populations, such as sharks, because of overfishing, which upsets the balance in marine food webs, Rand said.
"And then, on top of that, we're starting to see significant decline [in fish populations] because of climate change. Waters are warming, becoming more acidic and, in some instances, deoxygenated," he said.
Large-scale marine reserves are not only more resilient to the impacts of climate change; they are also more likely to keep their own ecosystems intact and can even help to replenish ocean environments that have been depleted, Rand said. This is particularly true of coral reef ecosystems, which have been especially hard-hit by climate change, he said.
"It's called the spillover effect," he explained. "If we have healthy ecosystems that are fully populated, we have corals spawning. The polyps travel and can regenerate coral reefs in areas at significant distances, hundreds or thousands of miles."
The Revillagigedo marine reserve protects a vast area in the Pacific and is home to many sharks, rays, and other life.
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 6, 2017
The Mexican government has announced the creation of a new marine reserve in the Pacific Ocean Thursday, the largest protected area of its kind in North America.
Alejandro Del Mazo Maza, representing Mexico’s National Commission of Protected Natural Areas, announced the massive expansion of the Revillagigedo marine park on October 5 at the Our Ocean conference in Malta.
The park covers more than 57,000 square miles, a vast rectangle of ocean encompassing the four Revillagigedo Islands, small volcanic landmasses under Mexico's control that lie about 240 miles southwest of Baja California. The islands are uninhabited except for a small Mexican naval presence and were named a World Heritage Site in 2016 for their unique biodiversity (the reserve is also the location for the photo that won the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest in 2015 .
“With the goal of guaranteeing maximum protection of this World Heritage Site, our national legislation’s strongest conservation category will be used, and all forms of fishing will be prohibited,” Del Mazo said in a statement. He also said that Mexico will not permit the construction of hotel facilities on the islands.
Previously, the islands had been protected by a small reserve that included only the waters up to six miles off the land. That left important feeding and migration areas for sharks, rays, whales, and other species in the path of fishermen—who either target the species, often illegally, or catch them accidentally as bycatch.
But the new park is designed to protect critical habitat for those animals, as well as corals and other fish. No fishing, mining, or other intensive resource development will be allowed in the newly expanded reserve.
"This is the wildest place in tropical North America," says Enric Sala, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence who led a Pristine Seas fact-finding expedition to the area in March 2016. "It’s one of the places where you can see the most giant manta rays and sharks on the planet."
During the expedition, the team of more than a dozen scientists saw "giant manta rays galore," says Sala. "We saw lots of sharks, groupers, and tuna. It was a rare place of large fish, with biodiversity as if the Galápagos Islands had opened a branch in Mexico."
On land, the islands are home to many sea and land birds, endemic reptiles, and unique plants.
With a DeepSee submersible and remote dropcams, the Pristine Seas team also surveyed a ridge about 300 feet beneath the surface. There, they found "a beautiful soft coral garden," says Sala, packed with corals, sea fans, sponges, crabs, and fish.
When proposed, the reserve saw some opposition from fishermen, but fishing fleets used only a small part of the waters, says Sala. Of the entire Pacific range fished by Mexico's tuna fleet, only seven percent of their effort was directed in the waters of the newly expanded reserve, he says.
And what's more, Mexico's fishermen should see their catches in waters outside the reserve increase, says Sala, due to spill-over of growing fish populations in the protected waters. That's exactly what happened around the Galápagos after fishing was restricted in 1998, turning former adversaries of the reserve into supporters.
The reserve should also increase the amount of dive tourism to the area, which is already a $15 million business. Boats often leave out of the popular resort destination Cabo San Lucas, a few hundred miles away.
Each living manta ray is worth 57 times more to Mexico's economy through increased tourism than the money received by selling its body parts to Asia, Sala's team calculated.
The next step will be enforcement of the reserve's new boundaries. Illegal fishermen have been operating there with sophistication, sometimes using helicopters to spot for enforcement vessels.
The reserve is the newest marine park that Sala and his Pristine Seas initiative at National Geographic helped bring into being. Over the past few years, the project has helped governments around the world establish 17 new reserves, covering some two million square miles of ocean.
Decree Revillagigedo Archipelago National Park "to ensure their conservation" Peña (24 Nov 2017) Proceso.com.mx
Signature President Enrique Peña Nieto Decree of Revillagigedo National Park (24 Nov 2017) www.gob.mx
from wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revillagigedo_Islands
The Revillagigedo Islands ( Spanish : Islas Revillagigedo , IPA: [reˈβiʝa xiˈxeðo] ) or Revillagigedo Archipelago are a group of four volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean , known for their unique ecosystem. They lie approximately 390 kilometres (240 mi) southwest of Cabo San Lucas , the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula , and 720 to 970 kilometres (450 to 600 mi) west of Manzanillo . They are located around 18°49′N 112°46′W Coordinates : 18°49′N 112°46′W . The islands are under Mexican federal jurisdiction.