The ecological value of coastal mangrove forests in Mexico has been apparent to marine scientists for years. Now, for the first time, researchers have used a wide-ranging compilation of fisheries landings, the official record of fish catches, to place an economic price tag on that value.
Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, writing in the new online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that Mexican mangroves, trees that form forest ecosystems at the land-sea interface, demonstrably boost fishery yields in the Gulf of California. The more mangroves, the more landings, the study showed.
The researchers arrived at their results through a combination of field studies, geographical analyses and economic valuations.
They found that thirteen fishing regions in the Gulf of California produced an average of 11,500 tons of mangrove-derived fish and blue crab per year between 2001 and 2005, generating nearly $19 million for local fishermen.
The researchers worked with landing records provided by Mexico's National Fisheries and Aquaculture Commission (CONAPESCA).
The geographic information was derived from several sources, including satellite images. To fill in gaps related to small mangrove wetlands, the researchers conducted field trips in 2005 and 2006 to survey mangrove patches distributed in small bays and islands. Using small boats, the researchers navigated inside lagoons and hiked across the inland parts of the forests to document the geographic bearings of the extent of mangrove trees.
Mangroves in the Gulf of California serve as homes to a variety of fish and crab species, and host nursery habitats for commercially valuable fishes such as snappers, snooks and mullets. The trees also protect the coastline from erosion and filter water between the continent and ocean. They provide a resource to generate money for local economies and mo
|Contact: Mario Aguilera|
University of California - San Diego