BAY OF LORETO MARINE PARK
Born from the diligent efforts of the Loreto community, The Bay of Loreto National Park was created by a Presidential Decree and approved by the Mexican Federal Congress on July 19, 1996. The Marine Park covers 2,065 square kilometers in the Sea of Cortez ranging from Isla Coronado in the north to Isla Catalana in the south. On July 14, 2005, the Park was inscribed to the United Nation’s list of protected World Heritage Sites. With over 800 species of marine life inhabiting the Sea of Cortez and many of them currently endangered, the need for protection of these delicate ecosystems is great.
Shortly after the Marine Park was created, the U.S.- based Nature Conservancy took notice and offered to help with the conservation of the Park. Funds raised through the Nature Conservancy, other non-profits and concerned individuals helped to create Grupo Ecologista Antares (GEA), Loreto’s first non-profit, environmental association whose programs and efforts over the past thirteen years have contributed to addressing the urgent environmental issues that affect the Loreto region.
With environmental pressures mounting, in 2007 Eco-Alianza de Loreto, A.C. (Loreto Eco-Alliance or “EAL”) was founded to help coordinate the efforts of the local non-profits and develop strategies to enforce protection of the Marine Park and create greater local, national and international awareness of the challenges that affect Loreto’s future. Eco-Alianza de Loreto is a non-profit membership organization of environmental organizations and individuals committed to working collaboratively to protect and preserve the coastal, marine and terrestrial eco-systems of the Municipality of Loreto while promoting smart growth strategies and viable communities in the region.Eco-Alianza’s mission is simple: To inspire leadership, collaborative networks, research, education and expanded public participation with the goal of protecting the region’s fragile eco-systems and promoting sustainable, healthy communities for the benefit of the flora, fauna and residents of the greater Loreto region. One of Eco-Alianza’s primary long-term goals is to protect fishery populations and the diversity of marine life in the Bay of Loreto National Park. This is being accomplished by monitoring fishing activity and enforcing regulations. Enforcement of park regulations in such a vast area is still a challenge even though much progress has been made.
Eco-Alianza is collaborating with Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI) in an important program to establish a network of reserves inside the Marine Park in order to increase the biomass, abundance and diversity of declining marine animals. The project is called “Mapa del Mar” (Map of the Sea), and consists of maps showing the economical importance of marine resources for different groups of stakeholders. The ultimate goal is to determine the most sustainable reserve network options in areas of biological importance and to minimize economic losses. “Mapa del Mar” is framed under the current revision of the management plan of the Bay of Loreto National Park where the proposed reserve network will be brought to the negotiation table for its approval and community validation. Eco-Alianza also conducts field and classroom conservation education programs for youth and the community. In cooperation with the Loreto National Park and other regional NGO’s, EAL develops scientific research, programs to empower and educate locals, and environmental legal defense projects for the protection and conservation of the marine and coastal resources.
In the fall of 2008, the Executive Director of Eco-Alianza was elected to serve as the Loreto Baykeeper, joining the network of more than 160 local Waterkeeper programs working throughout North and South America, Europe Asia, Australia and Africa. The Waterkeeper Alliance provides the Loreto Baykeeper important technical and legal water protection tools, national and international visibility, and connections with other water protection advocates necessary to ensure vigilant protection of Loreto’s watershed. The Loreto Baykeeper objective is to ensure the water quality in the Bay of Loreto National Park.Eco-Alianza has the long-term goal to develop and establish an “Eco-Center of Biodiversity and Conservation” for the Community of Loreto; the Center is planned to be a high-technology green building that will become the center for education and research for the protection and preservation of the marine life in the Park as well as the flora and fauna of the desert. It is Eco-Alianza’s intention to share the facility and its resources with others working in the Sea of Cortez for the protection of Loreto’s fragile eco-systems. For more information about Eco-Alianza’s programs, please visit www.ecoalianzaloreto.org/ourprograms.html
Eco-Alianza continues supporting the sea turtle conservation network, Grupo Tortuguero de las Californias and Pro Peninsula in an attempt to regenerate the population of the endangered sea turtles that live in the Sea of Cortez. From January 19-26, 2008, the 10th Annual Meeting of Grupo Tortuguero and the 28th International Sea Turtle Symposium (ISTS) was held in Loreto. Over 1,000 were in attendance including scientists, environmental educators, students, community members, youth, and others who want to bring turtles back to the waters of the of the Sea of Cortez by preventing their unnecessary killing for consumption or as "by-catch" in fishing gear. On January 30 – February 1, 2009, Eco-Alianza united with Grupo Tortuguero in a new decade of conservation at its 11th Annual Meeting in Loreto.
Tax deductible donations to EAL are being accepted through the International Community Foundation (ICF) in San Diego through the Amigos de Eco-Alianza Fund. To make a donation, please visit http://www.icf-xchange.org/graphics/plug?p=campaign_display&w=EcoAlianza
For more information on how you can help protect the delicate ecosystems in the Bay of Loreto National Park, please visit www.ecoalianzaloreto.org and the site of the newly formed Baja Life Foundation at www.bajalifefoundation.com.
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