Gulf of California – Biology and Fisheries

En Espanol

Fisherman with catch

Although precise data are lacking, more elasmobranch tonnage is landed in the Gulf of California (GOC) than in any other Mexican faunal region. Major artisanal fisheries for sharks and rays have developed in the GOC, with an unknown but considerable number of fishing sites established.  Recent declines in artisanal fishery landings and anecdotal evidence suggest that targeted elasmobranch populations may have been overexploited.  Management of these fisheries has been hampered in part by a lack of detailed, quantitative information on location and activities of artisanal elasmobranch camps, species composition of landings, and life history information of targeted species.

To improve the understanding, conservation, and management of shark and ray populations in the GOC, a two–year study, funded primarily by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, was undertaken during 1998–1999 to describe the extent and activities of the local elasmobranch fishery.  As part of this study, the locations and activities of elasmobranch fishing camps within the GOC were determined; the catch composition of sharks and rays from these camps, including species composition, sex, and size information were determined; a shark tagging program was designed and implemented to locate potential nursery grounds and ascertain the extent of shark movements between the Pacific and the GOC; and research findings were actively integrated to promote sustainable resource utilization by providing detailed information and fishery management recommendations.

Gulf of California artisanal camps

A technical report and several publications have resulted from this study, and have greatly advanced the state of knowledge of elasmobranchs and their artisanal fisheries in the GOC.  An extensive technical report, detailing state–specific and overall project objectives, was completed in 2007 and translated into Spanish in 2009 with supplemental funding by Packard’s Gulf of California Conservation and Science Program.  In addition, two manuscripts resulting from this work have recently been published and several more are in preparation.  Completion of this work has provided unprecedented baseline data on the artisanal fisheries and catch composition from the four states (Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, Sinaloa) bordering the GOC to a broad group of researchers, managers, students, and conservation agencies; thereby advancing the conservation and management of this historically vulnerable group of fishes.

Related Publications

Technical Reports

Bizzarro, J.J., Smith, W.D., Hueter, R.E., Tyminski, J., Márquez–Farías, J.F., Castillo–Géniz, J.L., Cailliet, G.M., Villavicencio–Garayzar, C.J., 2007.  The status of shark and ray fishery resources in the Gulf of California: applied research to improve management and conservation.  Moss Landing Marine Laboratories Tech. Pub. 2009–01. 242 p.

Bizzarro, J.J., Smith, W.D., Hueter, R.E., Tyminski, J., Márquez–Farías, J.F., Castillo–Géniz, J.L., Cailliet, G.M., and Villavicencio–Garayzar, C.J. 2007. El estado actual de los tiburones y rayas sujetos a explotación comercial en el Golfo de California: una investigación aplicada al mejoramiento de su manejo pesquero y conservación.  Traducción por: J. Leonardo Castillo-Géniz.  Laboratorios Marinos de Moss Landing Pub. Tec. 2009-02. 261 p. PDF

State-Specific Fishery Studies

Bizzarro, J.J., Smith, W.D., Hueter, R.E., and Villavicencio-Garayzar, J.C.  In press. Activities and catch composition of artisanal elasmobranch fishing sites on the eastern coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico.  Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences.

Smith, W.D., Bizzarro, J.J., and Cailliet, G.M.   In press. The artisanal elasmobranch fishery of Baja California, México: characteristics and management considerations.  Ciencias Marinas.

Bizzarro, J.J., Smith, W.D., Castillo–Géniz, J.L., Ocampo–Torres, A., Márquez–Farías, J.F., and Hueter, R.E. In review. The importance of small coastal sharks (Elasmobranchii, Carcharhiniformes) in the artisanal elasmobranch fishery of Sinaloa, Mexico. Pan–American Journal of Aquatic Sciences.

Bizzarro, J.J., W.D. Smith, J.F. Márquez-Farías, J. Tyminski, and R.E. Hueter.  2009.  Temporal variation in the artisanal elasmobranch fishery of Sonora, Mexico.  Fisheries Research 97:103-117. PDF

Biological and Systematic Studies

Smith, W.D., Bizzarro, J.J., Richards, V.P., Nielsen, J., Márquez–Farías, J.F. and Shivji, M.S.  In press.  Divergence and dimorphism: the taxonomic status of Gymnura crebripunctata (Peters 1869) and G. marmorata (Cooper 1864) in the eastern Pacific Ocean.  J. Fish Biology.

Bizzarro, J.J., W.D. Smith, J.F. Márquez-Farías, and R.E. Hueter.  2007.  Artisanal fisheries and reproductive biology of the golden cownose ray, Rhinoptera steindachneri Evermann and Jenkins, 1891, in the northern Mexican Pacific.  Fisheries Research 84:137-146.  PDF