Punta Abreojos: Fishing Cooperative

The People 
Founded in the 1940’s by two families of fishermen, Punta Abreojos has continued to stay true to their roots. As a small fishing village, the local community has recognized that conserving their resources also meant maintaining their culture. Thus, the Cooperative Society of Fisheries Production was born in an effort to responsibly manage Punta Abreojos’ fishery. Unlike most small-scale fisheries, the fishing cooperative closes the area during abalone and lobster breedingseasons; restricts harmful fishing gear; and establishes strict size limits for the targeted species. Working in collaboration with environmental authorities and scientists, Punta Abreojos constantly monitor water quality and fishery stock to better manage the fishery and avoid overexploitation. This fishing cooperative is not just environmentally conscious, but socially impressive as well: financial profits are utilized to take care of workers and the communities, as well as emergencies and retired fishermen.
The Resource 
Spiny lobster and abalone have high commercial value and demand, and as such, largely support the economy of Punta Abreojos. However, the decline of the abalone fishery as well as the vulnerability of the lobster fishery force the community to rethink how they use their marine resources. Fishing over 3,300 square kilometers, the Cooperative has begun to diversify the targeted species to alleviate the fishing pressure, protecting not only the local economy, but these key species as well. 18 species of finfish, 8 species of elasmobranchs, and 7 species of invertebrates sustain the fishermen during lobster and abalone breeding season: this rotation of catch gives both the economy and environment a boost.
The Future 
Unfortunately, the current status quo is being disrupted by climate change: increasing frequency of red tide events and fishing temperatures are rocking the boat, threatening the fishery and the community. Since 2000, the local fishers have meticulously recorded their fishery activities for scientists to advance management, displaying a culture of sustainability that has percolated throughout the community. The strength of these collaborations between stakeholders gives the community an edge: the constant monitoring lends itself to not only the current protection of the resource, but also the development of alternative future programs to reduce the pressure on the ecosystem. With an updated fisheries database, continued cooperation among stakeholders, and the passion for conservation, the community of Punta Abreojos holds promise for responsible fishing now and into the future.
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