Needs for Management and Conservation of the Southern Gulf of Mexico

by Ernesto A. Chávez, Instituto Nacional de la Pesca, Sinaloa, Mexico,
John W. Tunnell, Jr., Instituto Nacional de la Pesca, Sinaloa, Mexico,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '93


The shorelines of the southern of Mexico are a mixture of varied and diverse habitats. Nearly 2,600 km of shoreline and half of the area of the Gulf of Mexico belongs to the Mexican Economic Exclusive Zone. Important ecosystems occur along the shoreline, including over 30 coastal lagoons with extensive mangrove swamps (130,00 ha.). These Gulf of Mexico estuaries receive approximately 60% of Mexico's total river flow. Fragile and diverse coral reefs occur on the narrow southwestern continental shelf, as well as the wide shelf of the Campeche Bank Sandy beaches constitute most of the shoreline, and some are unique as nesting sites for sea turtles. Limestone rocky sea shores are scattered in areas along the western Yucatan Peninsula shoreline, and several volcanic rocky headlands are located in the southwestern Gulf. The continental shelf of the Campeche Bank is well known as a productive shrimping ground in the southwestern half, while its northeastern portion is habitat for a large population of red grouper. Some areas are important from the standpoint of diversity of their ecosystems (Mexico occupies the fourth place in a worldwide comparison), while others are subject to multiple uses by man. Oil (2.5 million barrel/day) and gas production (3,651 million cubic feet/day), fishing (246,000 tons/year), tourism (6.6 million visitors/year) and maritime transportation (165 million tons/year) constitute the major human activities within the coastal areas. The main factors of perturbation of the natural systems along this coast are : coastal development, oil spills, wastes of the petrochemical industry, urban sewage and over exploitation of fishery resources. Case studies dealing with area use are reviewed and recommendations are made, noting that some deserve preservation, while others require management in order to make the best sustainable use of the ecosystem resources.

Subject Headings: Shoreline | Coastal management | Light rail transit | Gulfs | Developing countries | Seas and oceans | Hazardous materials spills | Case studies | Gulf of Mexico | Mexico

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