“Ecological guidelines for designing networks of marine reserves in the unique biophysical environment of the Gulf of California”

Fully protected marine reserves are key tools for enhancing fisheries, conserving biodiversity and adapting to climate change. However, their benefits are evident only if they are well designed, strategically placed and are part of bottom-up strategies that include local communities and users.


Fig. 1Gulf of California showing the location of 47 existing marine reserves, and the location of the three biogeographic subregions (Brusca et al. 2005): Northern (NGC), Central (CGC) and Southern (SGC).

By synthesizing the ample scientific information available for the Gulf of California, 37 researchers from 20 institutions, we published the ecological guidelines for designing networks of marine reserves, open access in the Journal Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries. The guidelines suggest to protect the main habitats including replicates within each bioregion, protect critical areas for the reproduction and growth of commercial species and sites with unique biodiversity, include sites that are connected with help of oceanic currents to allow for larval exchange and sites with a minimum length of at least 10km to protect ~80% of commercial species, and consider climate change effects, among others.

The ecological guidelines represent an opportunity for Mexico, particularly to strengthen the design of fishery refuges and core zones within natural protected areas administered by CONAPESCA/SAGARPA and CONANP/SEMARNAT, respectively. Well designed marine reserves can help maximize the benefits for both people and nature in the long term.

Link to full open-acces paper: