Caring Together for Whale Sharks

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Caring Together for Whale Sharks

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Caring Together for Whale Sharks in Mexico

MVZ Jorge Maksabedian de la Roquette
Director General de la Vida Silvestre, SEMARNAT
Av. Revolucion 1425 Col. San Angel Tlacopac
Alvaro Obregon, Distrito Federal, Mexico, CP 1040
jorge.maksabedian@semarnat.gob.mx


Señor Maksabedian,


I write to express my deep concern over the worsening situation affecting whale sharks in northern Quintana Roo. Mexico is blessed with spectacular abundance of these peaceful animals near Isla Holbox and Isla Contoy, but this amazing natural phenomenon is threatened by a recent rapid increase in ecotourism. This has now reached levels that are clearly unsustainable. I am particularly concerned about the area east of Isla Contoy, commonly called the “afuera aggregation”, because this site is not within the Whale Shark Biosphere Reserve and therefore not enforced by CONANP. Tourists and whale sharks are both at risk of injury from the traffic jam of small boats that forms around the aggregation.


I urge you to reconsider the number of DGVS permits issued for whale shark ecotourism and limit it to no more than 75. On any day there should be less than 40 boats in the area. I also urge you to allocate the necessary resources to provide continuous and effective enforcement of guidelines for tourists interacting with whale sharks so that fewer whale sharks are harassed by swimmers and injured by boat propellers. Partners such as Ch’ooj Ajauil AC, Amigos de Isla Contoy AC, and Georgia Aquarium are ready and willing to help with information and advice about how to improve the situation.


The whale sharks of Quintana Roo are a world class natural asset for Mexico. As such, the world is watching the decisions made about the management of this species. Please take swift action to protect the safety of people and whale sharks alike, and to help preserve this amazing phenomenon for future generations to enjoy.


Sincerely,

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