Carlos Aguilera-NIPARAJÁ
Published: 04 March 2021
Last edited: 15 March 2021
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Faced with the constant deterioration caused by uncontrolled fishing, and with the help of academics, 25 years ago the inhabitants of the community of Cabo Pulmo, Mexico, decided to stop fishing and change gears by focusing on sustainable tourism. The first 14 years of the Park saw the need to better regulate human activities, until 2009 when the Management Program was published. However, some rules defined in it were still not specific to tourist activities. That year, work began on a Public Use Program (PUP), to establish these rules. The PUP has been built in collaboration with the community, academics, tourism service providers, CONANP and Civil Society Organizations. During these years we have witnessed that the sum of participation, capacity building and management actions, give as a result environmental benefits to the reef and economic ones for the local community.


North America
Scale of implementation
Coral reef
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Rocky reef / Rocky shore
Ecosystem services
Local actors
Protected area governance
Protected area management planning
Ocean warming and acidification
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Social conflict and civil unrest
Sustainable development goals
SDG 14 – Life below water
Aichi targets
Target 11: Protected areas


Cabo Pulmo, Los Cabos Municipality, Baja California Sur 23574, Mexico
Show on Protected Planet


1. Conserve the marine biodiversity of the Cabo Pulmo reef. 

2. Maintain the ecosystem services offered by Cabo Pulmo National Park.

3. Effectively manage recreational activities carried out by tourism in Cabo Pulmo.

4. That the Public Use Program continues to be the result of a broad participatory process among the community, tourism service providers, the Park Management, Civil Society Organizations and academics.

5. That the rules of the Public Use Program be recognized by all users and providers of tourism services, in addition to seeking its official validity.

6. Strengthen the bond of trust between tourism service providers, main users and beneficiaries of the use of the NPA, with the Park Management, Civil Society Organizations and academics, in decision-making on the management and conservation of the protected area.


The providers of tourist services by their continuous involvement in conservation.

The community for tourism activities.

CONANP in fulfilling its mission to conserve the protected area’s biodiversity and ecosystem services.

How do the building blocks interact?

On the one hand, the participatory process under which the Public Use Program was built reflects that with organization and will, conservation of a site can be achieved, in this case, Cabo Pulmo National Park. On the other hand, the constant training of tourism service providers makes companies and their workers increasingly stronger by offering a more professional service to visitors while carrying out their activities respecting and conserving the reef. And finally, the surveillance actions monitor the enforcement of the agreed rules, thus closing the circle of participatory and responsible management.

The combination of participation-training-management actions has strengthened the operations of tourism service providers and the management of the National Park while obtaining benefits for the local community.

It should not be forgotten that the multiplier factor of all these actions focuses on the community of Cabo Pulmo, which has a long history of actions for the conservation of the reef, because thanks to them it was possible to protect it in perpetuity.


• In Cabo Pulmo ecotourism activities are developed as a viable economic alternative for the community, supported by good practices and a Public Use Program, accompanied by good management by the directorate of the Park.

• There are carrying capacities for diving and snorkeling sites, so that tourist pressure is reduced and the impacts that the reef can have are minimized by those visitors who experience the place each year.

• There is a list of guides and captains accredited, informed and trained by the directorate of the Park to lead groups of visitors in the Park.


As the Director of the protected area indicates, the Public Use Program of the National Park is not a decision of the National Park, but is a collegiate decision, voted and agreed with all users of the Park, supported by Civil Society Organizations and supported by academic institutions.

And although the problem of visitor management in the protected natural area is not fully solved, several service providers recognize that the Public Use Program does have favorable results by decreasing the oversaturation of diving sites and improving relationships between the various users.

Cabo Pulmo National Park has been a pioneer in the planning and development of complementary instruments that strengthen management and promote social participation.

Contributed by

Miguel Palmeros Sociedad de Historia Natural Niparajá, A.C.

Other contributors

Sociedad de Historia Natural Niparajá, A.C.
Parque Nacional Cabo Pulmo, CONANP
Parque Nacional Cabo Pulmo, CONANP