Home PlanetYucaEnvironment Alacranes Reef, the most important marine habitat in the Yucatan Peninsula: Oceana

Alacranes Reef, the most important marine habitat in the Yucatan Peninsula: Oceana

by Sofia Navarro
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The Alacranes Reef National Park (PNAA) is the most important habitat for marine life in the Yucatan Peninsula, as it hosts a great diversity of corals and fish that sustain the region’s fish abundance, according to the results of Oceana’s latest scientific expedition in Mexico, conducted last May.

After analyzing the data collected during the research, the study revealed that in some areas of the reef, corals have recovered favorably over the past 20 years, with a great abundance of fish, including commercially valuable species. This is evidence that Protected Natural Areas play a key role in the health of oceans and fisheries.

Oceana, the world’s largest international organization dedicated exclusively to ocean protection, explained that reefs not only protect coastlines from phenomena such as hurricanes but also serve as breeding and growth sites for hundreds of species that are a source of food and income for thousands of families. The data obtained from their expedition helps understand and identify critical sites within the PNAA and their importance in the reproduction of commercially important fish species.

Miguel Rivas, Director of Oceana’s Marine Sanctuaries campaign in Mexico, explained that their research shows that “over the past two decades, nine percent of the Alacranes Reef National Park has recovered coral coverage, and macroalgae has decreased. This allows other species, including lobster and octopus, which are vital to Yucatan’s economy, to reproduce and thrive there,” he emphasized.

Oceana has conducted two scientific expeditions to the PNAA, sponsored by Blancpain, Sobrato Philanthropies, and Wyss Foundation. Thanks to these efforts, changes in the area can be compared using maps generated by researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the University of San Diego.

The Oceana expedition reveals that the Alacranes Reef National Park also faces threats from global warming, such as the presence of lionfish, an invasive exotic species that affects the ecosystem, as well as illegal fishing. Consequently, the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (Conanp), local government, and fishing communities have reinforced inspection and surveillance in the area.

In its report, Oceana presented proposals to strengthen the protection of Alacranes Reef, which have already been shared with Conanp and the Advisory Council of the park, which includes the fishing sector. Recommendations include enhancing the involvement of fishing communities in the sustainable management of the Protected Natural Area and implementing continuous monitoring for the control and eradication of lionfish before it causes irreversible damage to the reef ecosystem.

Claudia Lizaldi, an ambassador for Oceana, emphasized that “taking care of the oceans is taking care of ourselves, our families, and future generations because they provide the majority of the oxygen we breathe, generate jobs, and support thousands of Mexican families.”

TYT Newsroom

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