Local fishing communities and government agencies have joined forces with Nature & Culture to establish the first marine reserve off of the coast of Piura, Peru. Despite its high levels of biodiversity and economic significance, this ecoregion lacks legal protection and faces enormous threats including unsustainable fishing practices, industrial pollution and unmanaged tourism, posing an urgent need for its protection.
Protecting critical coastal and marine habitats
Peru’s northern oceans protect roughly 70% of the nation’s marine biodiversity, including numerous endemic species. This region is home to both tropical species such as marine turtles as well as temperate water species such as the endangered Humboldt Penguin. Peru’s coastal waters constitute the largest upwelling system on the planet and support one of the world’s largest fisheries – accounting for nearly 20% of global fish stocks and 60% of Peru’s seafood consumption.
In concert with local communities, fishermen and local and national governments, we’re working to protect four critical marine areas and neighboring coastal areas of Sechura Bay totaling 286,159 acres. Through the creation of the Tropical Pacific Seas Reserve, the major threats to this unique marine ecoregion will be addressed and long-term protection will be secured. In 2013, we submitted the documents needed for the creation of the reserve to Peru’s National Park Service (SERNANP), the first step in declaring it a protected area.
Since then, we have been working closely with five fishing villages in the region – El Nuro, Canoas de Punta Sal, La Tortuga, Yacila and La Islilla – conducting workshops on sustainable fisheries management. We have also completed field evaluations with the local fishermen to determine the impacts of artisanal fishing and the activity of illegal fishing vessels (18 of which have been identified in the area). This information will allow us to determine critical zoning levels for the reserve. Additionally, we concluded an assessment of small-scale fisheries, which will be used to strengthen the existing fisheries and support the zoning of the reserve. This can then be replicated among the communities within the proposed reserve for long-term sustainable fisheries management.
Nature & Culture’s history of conservation in Peru
We have worked for over a decade in creating and managing protected areas throughout Peru in partnership with local governments and communities. We maintain strategic partnerships with five Regional Governments and many municipalities with whom we establish the priority areas for conservation. SERNANP, Peru’s National Park service, has been an official partner of Nature & Culture-Peru since its inception in 2004. With the support and collaboration of SERNANP, we have declared over 5.5 million acres of protected areas in Peru, with another 1.1 million acres in progress.
Since 2005, our local office in Piura has been leading this marine project, coordinating the technical paperwork and initiating on-the-ground community outreach. With our expertise in community-based conservation and extensive work with Peru’s government agencies, creating a highly functioning, large-scale marine reserve is feasible.