Fishery Improvement Project
Last Update: January 2017
Red Grouper (Epinephelus morio)
Black Grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci)
FIP Stage according to CASS progress table: 4, FIP is delivering improvement in practices
FIP Rating according to SFP rating system: A (Exceptional Progress)
FIP Rating according to MSC benchmarking tool (based on red grouper):
Initial (June 2014): 0.50; Second (Oct 2015): 0.50; Current (Oct 2016): 0.50
[* In September 2016, CeDePesca translated the original scores of this FIP (set against the MSC standard v1.3) to the MSC standard v2.0. The rationale for the setting of scores for the updated performance indicators is shown here. As of that date, the MSC BMT scores are to be issued against the MSC standard v2.0.]
FIP Profile at FisheryProgress.org: Mexico (Yucatan) red and black grouper FIP – longline (Sep 2016)
Campeche Bank in Gulf of México
FIP Coordination: If you would like more information about the FIP or if wish to support it, please contact Minerva Alonso.
- Sea Delight (US importer)
- Atlántida del Sur (local exporter)
- Handy International (US importer)
- Chefs trading Co (US importer)
- Pesmar (local exporter)
- Quirch Foods (US importer)
- Netuno USA (US importer)
- Orca (local exporter)
- Comercial Oceánica (local exporter)
- Federación Regional de Cooperativas del Centro-Poniente del estado de Yucatán (Fed-Pte, local producer)
- Cooperativa La Pobre de Dios (local producer)
- CeDePesca (technical coordination)
Publicly Announced Date: April 2014
Current Improvement Recommendations:
- Establishment of a consistent recovery strategy, through the reduction of fishing efforts.
- Define a research plan that includes data collection of target and non-target species of the fishery and the impacts on ecosystems function.
- Help establish participatory mechanisms both to collect information and to disseminate the results of scientific analysis.
- Discussion of measures that allows a more reliable statistics system.
- Establishment of an adequate Management plan based on stock assessments to control harvest levels.
- Establishment of a participatory mechanism to assess the performance of the Management plan.
Red grouper and black grouper are two of the main species harvested in a mixed demersal fishery at the Bank of Campeche. They are caught using bottom longlines. Traditionally, three fleets have been active; Mexican industrial (about 515 vessels) and artisanal vessels (about 6,000 vessels) and a small fishery specific Cuban industrial fleet, the latter no longer active.
This fishery is of extreme social importance for Yucatan coastal communities, since more than 10 thousand families make a livelihood of it, and this fishery sustain families´ incomes between the seasons of more profitable fisheries such as octopus, lobster and sea cucumber.
In past years, red grouper has been the most important specie, but industry reports that more recently black grouper is predominant, although this is not the case in the artisanal sector. This fishery is an important source of livelihood in the Yucatán Peninsula.
Red grouper has a marine estuarine dependent life cycle. They spawn off-shore, migrate in-shore to bays and lagoons as larva before migrating once again as juveniles. Black grouper spawn area is unknown. Red and Black grouper are slow-growing fishes that begin life as females and transition to males.
A number of management measures have been implemented – most notably limited entry (that is not effective in the artisanal fishery), a closed season to protect spawning aggregations, a minimum landing size (not effective) and a minimum hook size. The fishery is seasonal with the total level of effort in a year very much dependent on the opportunities in the more profitable fisheries for octopus and beche-de-mer. In fact, the option to switch fisheries is probably one of the most important characteristics reducing effort on the grouper stocks and preventing or delaying their collapse.
In the past, substantial research has been carried out on many aspects of the red grouper stock and the biology of the species is well known. From the research it is clear that the species is over fished and over fishing is continuing; the stock is below the limit reference point defined by INAPESCA of 78,000 mt and substantially below the target reference point of 124,478 mt (50 % of the estimated virgin biomass).
In contrast little is known about black grouper.
In October 2014, CeDePesca issued a Proposal for the Management of Groupers and Associated species which has been being disseminated since then between authorities, industry and fishermen.
In November 2014, the ruling document, “Plan de Manejo de Mero y especies asociadas” (Management Plan for Grouper and Associated species) was published. Even if it has been a progress having this official document in place, it has not introduced substantial progress to the management system of the fishery.
In February 2015, Conapesca published a measure to increase the fishing closure from one to two months, from February 1st to March 31st. However, in 2016, the fishing closure operated only from February 1st until March 11th.
Problems /Key issues in these fisheries are:
- Lack of implementation of effective management strategies to regulate fishing effort.
- Insufficient information on fisheries by-catch species.
- Lack of systematic information about interactions with ecosystem components.
- Lack of incentives for sustainable fishing.
- Collaborate to develop a consistent recovery strategy, through the reduction of fishing effort and control of harvest levels.
- Collaborate in the establishment of a management system reform to rebuild overfished stocks.
- Promote implementation of an adequate Research Plan and the timely dissemination of results.
- Conduct a Risk Analysis.
Framework agreement for Mexico Grouper Fishery Improvement Project was signed by Sea-Delight Ocean Fund, Inc., Atlántida del Sur, S.A. de C.V and CeDePesca in mid January.
In March, FIP partners contracted Intertek Moody Marine to conduct an MSC pre-assessment.
In May, there were several contacts with stakeholders through meetings of the Grouper System Committee of Yucatán (Comité Estatal Sistema Producto Mero Yucatán). In late May, the MSC pre-assessment draft was received and a FIP workplan was developed.
In June, the FIP workplan was presented to stakeholders at a meeting that took place on June 4th 2014 in Progreso, México. The final draft of the MSC pre-assessment was received in mid-June and is being translated into Spanish in order to make it available to stakeholders.
In July, CeDePesca participated in a workshop organized by the CONMECOOP (Confederación Mexicana de Cooperativas Pesqueras y Acuícolas, Mexican Confederation of fisheries and aquaculture cooperatives) as an advisor to analyze and develop a group of proposals to improve Fisheries and Aquaculture Governance where the grouper case was presented.
Along the quarter several meetings have been conducted to promote the establishment of a consistent recovery strategy for Grouper fisheries and related species; participating FIP suppliers, fishermen, processors and exporters leaders with local and Federal Authorities leaded by Comite Sistema Producto Mero and accompanied by CeDePesca. Among other initiatives, there is a wide consensus to enhance the closure season from one to two months as of 2015.
In September, CeDePesca organized a meeting to disseminate good Chilean artisanal fisheries practices. Mr. José Alvarado, President of the Artisanal Fishermen Federation of Hualaihue, involved in a FIP in Chile, presented “Learning from experience: How Chile’s artisanal hake fisheries have been organized with the participation of fishermen” to local Fishermen from Dzilam de Bravo and Telchac, Yucatan. The purpose was to introduce a discussion about rights-based options as a solution to rebuild and keep sustainable the grouper fishery.
In September, Federal Government initiated a regional survey and workshops to discuss the document called “Management Plan for grouper and associated species”. This document will be complement of the existing regulations. CeDePesca, stakeholders, fishermen leaders, scientists and Government Officials from Quintana Roo and Yucatán will be participating in the discussions. The first discussion meeting in Yucatan will take place on December 3th-4th in Mérida.
In October, within the frame of resolution NOM-065-PESC-2007 to regulate groupers and associated species fisheries and after a discussion with FIP partners, CeDePesca presented its Proposal for Management of Campeche Bank Grouper and Associated Species and started to introduce the proposal with local stakeholders.
In November 25th, 2014 the official document: “Plan de Manejo Pesquero de Mero (Epinephelus morio) y especies asociadas en la Península de Yucatán” was published in the Official Mexican Government Law Journal. Some of the key objectives established in the document are to promote protection of reproduction through modifying the closure season from one to two months and to protect juveniles through the modification of the minimum hook size and size limits. This Law is the frame reference to develop the management strategy for the fishery. Although it is an advance to have this frame document, it does not introduce substantial progress to the current management frame.
In January and February, despite the “Management Plan” approved in November 2014 and several discussions with authorities and local leaders to promote strategies that could help the fishery, no agreements had been taken, and finally the closure will be just for one month. However, a measure was published by CONAPESCA in late February to increase the fishing closure from one to two months as of the 2016 season.
Since February, along the fishing closure, CeDePesca has been developing workshops in different communities to discuss its proposal with local fishermen in San Felipe, Progreso, Rio Lagartos, Las Coloradas and Chuburná, with the participation of 186 fishermen that were able to hear scientific information of the fishery, a case of successful management in Chile, and our proposal. It was perceptible a collective surprise when the fishermen realized the magnitude of the problem, and the importance of taking effective long term actions.
Following discussions between authorities and local leaders at the State Fishery Council which took place last June, agreements were finally reached to accept a two months fishing closure during 2016, in accordance to current laws. Most of CeDePesca’s specific proposals for improving the fishery were included in the document presented by the Grouper Fishery Sector (Fishermen and business owners representing the Yucatan fishing communities) and presented directly to local and federal authorities.
Several Local Committees had been formed in order to review fishing vessel permits and registered fishermen in mayor Coastal Communities. Celestun, Dzilam de Bravo, San Felipe and Rio Lagartos are working already in regards to this matter. Local leaders participate from these Committees and will present their review to authorities; this is the first step in order to update information that will help to control illegal fishing. On September 8th and 9th , the State Government and FAO developed a workshop to analyze and validate specific actions to be included in the document: “Plan Rector de la Pesca y Acuacultura del estado de Yucatan”. This document is scheduled to be published on January 2016, and it contains some actions that if taken, can help Yucatan fisheries in general and the grouper fishery in particular in attaining sustainability. Special attention to Yucatan had been taken by Federal Government since General Directors of SAGARPA, CONAPESCA and INAPESCA have visited Yucatan and analyzed with local leaders the problems related to fisheries.
In accordance with the FIP objective of implementing a management plan based on updated and accurate information and a participatory scheme, the local Committees officially named as “Fisheries Management Nautical Committees” (Comités Nauticos de Ordenamiento Pesquero) -with official recognition by the State Government- were established in Sisal, Progreso, Chelem, Telchac and other coastal communities. Their more relevant work will be to validate and update the fishermen census in order to initiate discussions to update fisheries permits and to fairly distribute the closure season subsidies. This validated information will also be important to determine real fishing effort.
This is not the first time that these Committees have been summoned, but fishermen were reluctant to participate because of a past lack of results. CeDePesca-Yucatan followed closely the development of the negotiations, in order to encourage fishermen to fully participate and make this tool effective.
Along this quarter, CeDePesca also held discussions with recognized local scientists, in order to determine what would be the most important and practical information that fishermen should provide in order to improve the stock assessments.
During this period, a group of recently published ruling documents set the opportunity for official discussions of effective management strategies, including a quota-per-fleet system in order to regulate fishing effort.
The draft version of “Ordenamiento Pesquero de mero en la Península de Yucatan” (Grouper Fisheries Management in the Yucatan Peninsula) published on January, includes among other strategies, the possibility of establishing a Catch Quota System per fleet.
During an extraordinary session of the Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture Council of Yucatan, the document “Plan Rector para el Desarrollo de la Pesca y la Acuacultura Sostenibles de Yucatán” (Guiding Plan for Sustainable Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Yucatan) was presented, along with “Diagnóstico de los Sectores de la Pesca y la Acuacultura en el Estado de Yucatán” (Diagnosis of the Fisheries and Aquaculture sectors in the State of Yucatan). These documents describe among others, the importance of reducing fishing mortality in order to promote sustainability, and the need of improving our knowledge of by-catch species related to grouper fishery. CeDePesca played an important role in the preparation of this documents.
At the same time, CeDePesca worked with fishermen from Chicxulub Port in order to improve Good Manufacturing Practices and to promote a better register of catches.
In February, Handy International was welcomed to the FIP. An updated Framework Collaboration Agreement was signed to this effect, as was a Specific Agreement for 2016.
In early March, in the context of Boston’s Seafood Expo North America, Chefs Trading and Quirch Foods expressed their interest in becoming part of the FIP. An addendum to the Framework Collaboration Agreement has been already signed to welcome Chefs Trading, as well as a Specific Agreement for 2016.
On the other hand, on March 16th, a second addendum was signed to welcome local exporter Pescados y Mariscos del Caribe (PESMAR), as well as a Specific Agreement for 2016.
In April, a third addendum to the Framework Collaboration agreement was signed welcoming Quirch Foods to the FIP partners group, as well as a Specific Agreement for 2016.
On the other hand, the FIP workplan for 2016 was revised by CeDePesca considering the recent inclusion of new partners.
Also in April, a workshop took place with fishermen from Chabihau Port in order to present information of grouper fishery and the FIP’s management proposal.
As of May, data collection activities related to the FIP have started in the communities of Sisal and Chicxulub Port with the participation of fishers, in order to improve current information on the grouper fishery. Although, the data collected so far is useful, some improvements will be made to make the process easier and more straightforward.
In July, CeDePesca conducted a presentation for skippers at the “Sea Fest Fish Tournament” in order to provide information about the Mexican grouper fishery and promote awareness of the importance of following regulations.
From August 16th to 18th, CeDePesca participated from a workshop on “Fisheries management through diverse property rights based system”. From August 30th to 31st, CeDePesca and FIP members participated from the workshop “Regional FIP: México, Centroamerica and Caribe”. Discussions related to the global FIPs landscape, structure and design of FIPs took place with several non-governmental organizations, government representatives and researchers.
CeDePesca collaborated in the organization and promotion of a meeting of the “Barco Abierto” initiative jointly with the Fisheries Group of CINVESTAV. The meeting was held on September 9th to discuss with stakeholders the 10 proposals related to fisheries management improvement to be presented on October 4th to national Senators. The meeting took place at Cinvestav and there were about 24 participants from the Government, scientific institutes, fishers, private sector among others.
Also in September, a document presenting CeDePesca’s position in relation to the grouper fishery and on why the sea cucumber quota system had failed in Yucatan was sent to several authorities and media outlets.
On October 4th, CeDePesca took part in the “Workshop for the Follow-up of the First Forum for Strengthening Participation in Fisheries Public Policy”. The workshop took place at the Mexican Senate and the results from the “Barco Abierto” initiative that aims at promoting the improvement of fisheries policy through social participation were officially presented.
From October 17th to 21st, CeDePesca and FIP members participated from the workshops on sustainability and fisheries certification that were organized by the Mexican Senate. This event was organized by the Senate’s Fisheries Commission and offered a very important forum to present the challenges faced by this FIP. It is expected that this presentation will provoke top-level discussions among decision makers.
On the other hand, CeDePesca`s Proposal for the Management of Groupers and Associated species was presented to Senator Ernesto Ruffo Appel and Senator Diva Gastelum Bajo, President and Secretary of the Fisheries Commission of the Mexican Senate.
On November 22nd, CeDePesca participated from the Symposium “México as part of the International Fisheries Activities” that also took place at the Mexican Senate. During this event, CeDePesca shared its experience as an active stakeholder in the management of diverse shared fisheries in Latin America, as well as its approach towards finding a path for improving fisheries sustainability.
In the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity`s 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13), CeDePesca participated in the Fisheries Sustainability Meeting to raise awareness on fishery improvement needs.
During this quarter, data collection activities related to the grouper fishery have continued with the participation of fishers and FIP partners. Although the data collected so far is useful, it still needs to be strengthened. The database has been offered to several local researchers in order to promote collaborations and improve basic data collection efforts.
On December 17th, ten fishermen leaders participated in the workshop “Grouper Fisheries at Yucatan: Obstacles and the search for solutions” organized by CeDePesca. At this workshop, local leaders analyzed the problems they are facing and a discussion of the possible future scenarios faced by the fishery took place.
Regarding the fishing closure for 2016, authorities had first decided that the two-month closure would be effective in two periods: from February 1st to March 11th, 2016 and from December 15th 2016 to January 3rd 2017. This second period was not implemented by authorities because of social pressure, and a new commitment has been made to respect the rule in 2017. In this regard, it should be noted that artisanal and semi-industrial fishers reported that during the last two weeks of December, they only worked for 5 and 10 days respectively due to climate conditions.
On the other hand, on December 23rd, CeDePesca sent a letter to the CRIP-Yucaltepén informing them on the new measures taken by the State of Florida (USA) in regards to minimum import sizes and requesting participation in the Grouper Management Committee.
FIP partners are organizing a meeting at the Seafood Expo North America in Boston to present advances of the project. The meeting will take place on March 20th at 9:00 a.m. at the Boston Convention Center, room 107c.
Also, FIP partners are in the process of agreeing the 2017 FIP workplan to be published soon.