A holistic strategy for Protected Area management

Abraham González
Published: 14 October 2015
Last edited: 12 February 2020
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Protected Areas (PAs) are a powerful tool for biodiversity conservation. In Mexico, more than 175 federal PAs protect over 25.6 million hectares of habitats and landscapes. Due to the remote location of many PAs, however, administrative frameworks for their governance and enforcment of regulations is often lacking. Therefore, a conceptual model to support PA enforcement was developed. This model is designed to increase the compliance of regulations and to facilitate the recovery and conservation of fish stocks and biodiversity.


North America
Scale of implementation
Coral reef
Freshwater ecosystems
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Salt marsh
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Coastal and marine spatial management
Ecosystem services
Fisheries and aquaculture
Food security
Protected area governance
Species management
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Inefficient management of financial resources
Lack of technical capacity
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Lack of infrastructure
Sustainable development goals
SDG 14 – Life below water
Aichi targets
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 11: Protected areas
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources


Gulf of California, Mexico


Illegal resource use, overfishing and lack of enforcement:

  • Illegal extraction of natural resources
  • Fisheries overexploitation
  • Ignorance and non-compliance to regulations
  • Lacking inter-institutional coordination and political will
  • Scattered surveillance and enforcement system
  • Excessive workload of public servants
  • Lacking human and economic resources as well as presence of authorities
  • Absence of impact indicators´for evaluation
  • Gaps in the legal system


Direct benficiaries:

  • Fishermen
  • Tourists

Indirect benficiaries:

  • Government authorities
  • Seafood companies
  • Seafood consumers
  • Tourism industry

How do the building blocks interact?



  • Increase in the number of acts set by the PROFEPA (Federal Administration of Environmental Protection) in the protected areas of Bahía de Los Ángeles (233% between 2012 and 2013) and of the Biosphere reserve El Vizcaíno (evaluation in progress).
  • The dissemination of information to promote the compliance of users increased as measured by the proportion of users that know the regulations, the consequences of non-compliance and the advantages of complying to them: 85% Guaymas industrials, 90% ribereños of Bahía de los Ángeles, 60% ribereños of El Barril.

The governance indicators of the IUCN manual (2006): How is your MPA doing? (http://marineprotectedareas.noaa.gov/pdf/national-system/mpadoing.pdf) were used for the evaluation.


It was the time of the year when the whales are giving birth to their calves and play with them in the lagoon.

One morning, Juan (from PROFEPA) and Gringo, a colleague from the Mexican Comission for Protected Areas (CONANP) got into their boots and life jackets, and hopped onto their small boat. They left with the purpose to monitor those whales. Suddenly, Gringo saw something strange in the water. "There is something far away, I see a flutter, is it a fish caught in a net?", he asked Juan. Surprise and irritatated, Juan and Gringo found that it was a small turtle trying to escape a fishing net. The small turtle was completely entangled in the net and could not get out off it withput help. Juan and Gringo tried to hold the turtle gently while cutting the net, but the turtle moved with great force and despair. When they finally managed to cut the nets and free the turtle, they took it to shore and had a veterinarian examine the turtle. After it received a clean bill of health, the turtle was released into the lagoon. Like a Hollywood star, this departure included cameras, applause and the smiles of visitors, who came to see the turtle off. 


Adapted from “The History of Conservation“ by Claudia Cecilia González Olimón, 2013

Contributed by

Alejandro Castillo López Pronatura Noroeste

Other contributors

Pronatura Noroeste