The United States government has issued a double negative certification against Mexico due to ongoing incursions by illegal fishermen from Playa Bagdad, Tamaulipas, to Texas, and the lack of actions to stop the mass mortality of loggerhead sea turtles in the Gulf of Ulloa, Baja California Sur.
In its 2023 report to the US Congress, the Fisheries Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA Fisheries) states that the Mexican government has done nothing to curb the illegal fishing of red snapper (huachinango) in its territorial waters, even though it has been a problem that the US reported in 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2021.
As a result, the US government has decided to maintain the sanctions against the Mexican government that have been in place since February 7, 2022. These sanctions include prohibiting Gulf of Mexico vessels from docking or refueling or receiving any services at US ports. Additionally, the possibility of an embargo on the importation of fish and seafood products from Mexico remains open.
Furthermore, NOAA Fisheries has negatively certified Mexico for the lack of an equivalent regulatory program that reduces or eliminates the incidental capture of loggerhead sea turtles with gillnets in the Gulf of Ulloa, Baja California Sur.
The United States noted that in 2015, Mexican authorities established restrictions on fishing gear, an observer program on board smaller vessels with video recording, a mortality limit for individuals to declare the closure of commercial activities, and the establishment of a long-term refuge area, which was suspended because the Mexican government did not provide the necessary documentary evidence.
In response to this situation, NOAA Fisheries has stated that it will request restrictions on Mexican-flagged vessels at ports and on the marketing of Mexican fish and seafood products.
Oceana has called on the National Commission of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Conapesca) to fulfill its obligation to combat illegal fishing and stop ignoring the impacts on the fishing sector due to its inaction.
Renata Terrazas, executive director of Oceana in Mexico, emphasized that illegal fishing affects the ability of law-abiding fishermen to sell their products in the United States, which represents 50 percent of the export market for Mexican fish and seafood. In 2022, this market had a value of 800 million dollars, which is equivalent to more than ten times the public budget allocated to the only government program supporting fishermen known as Bienpesca.