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Biosphere Reserve Island San Pedro Martir
Reserva de La Biosfera Isla San Pedro Mártir

mexico

First Listed

2019

Area
301.65km2

Why is it Green Listed?

The biosphere reserve Island San Pedro Martir has great scientific relevance for what is considered a natural laboratory of adaptation and evolution. It is one of the best preserved sites of the Gulf of California. This marine protected area has a great biological wealth, registering 292 species of flora and fauna both marine and terrestrial, of which 42 species are protected, either by the Mexican laws (NOM ECOL-059 2001) 30 in the IUCN Red List and 36 under CITES.

This island is home to the world´s largest nesting colonies of blue-footed boobies and brown boobies, one of the largest colonies in Mexico of brown pelicans and probably the largest colony in the Gulf of California of the red billed tropic bird . It also houses the fourth most important breeding colony of sea lions of the Gulf of California. In its surrounding waters there are 14 species of marine mammals, big aggregations of whales are often seen in its western portion. In its insular habitat there are two species of endemic reptiles: the lizard whiptail and stained sides lizard ; while the Emperor black snake is restricted to just a few islands in the Gulf.

Key Achievements

Conservation

  • The reserve has maintained a significant California Sea lion population – one of the most important in Mexico
  • Recovery of Craveri’s murrelet (Synthliboramphus craveri) and the healthy status of green turtle, sperm whale and other whale populations. 
  • Currently the island is free of mammal exotic species, due to an eradication program in 2007.
  • The status of important terrestrial species have significantly increased since 2007 (more than 300% increase in densities of two endemic species)
  • The top of the island is covered by a forest of columnar cacti, considered the best preserved portions of the Sonoran Desert

Good governance

  • The AP is important  for the community of Bahía Kino regarding beauty, biological diversity, healthy fisheries in the region, and the fact that the community has participated in gathering information about it.
  • Community promoters are doing a great job in terms of environmental education. They see this as a big change in the fishermen community. Currently, artisanal fishers are aware of the conservation benefits from the PA. They stated that many fish species are much more abundant now than 20 years ago. 

Community benefits

  • Significant economic benefits with the Conservation Program for Sustainable Development (PROCODES), has been used for training, community projects, conservation actions, training courses and technical studies, creation and consolidation of monitoring groups of men and women.
  • The proportion of local fishers who support the designation of the buffer zone and no-take core zone increased from 58% 97% (2007 to 2017)

Site Attributes

WDPA ID

Size
301.65km2

Designation(s)
Ramsar, UNESCO-MAB and World Heritage Site

IUCN Category
Ia (Core Zone and WHA) and VI (Buffer zone and MAB)

Year Established
2002

Marine Protected Area
Yes

Marine Area
300.4

Area of no-take
9.88

Governance Type
Federal ministry or agency

Site Agency
Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP)

Site Manager
Domingo de Jesús Zatarain González

Application
13/10/2015

EAGL Evaluation
03/12/2018

GL Committee Submission
05/12/2018

EAGL Chair
Víctor Sanchez Cordero

ASI Reviewer
Araceli Suarez

Site Summary

San Pedro Martir Island Biosphere Reserve  (SPMIBR) was established in 2002. It is located in the middle portion of the Gulf of California, is considered one of the best preserved and most oceanic of the islands that make up the archipelago of the Gulf of California, as it is located 55 kilometers from Punta Kino, Sonora, 64 kilometers from Punta San Gabriel, Baja California, and a distance of 61 kilometers from the port of Bahia Kino, Sonora.

The SPMIBR has great scientific relevance for what is considered a natural laboratory of adaptation and evolution. It is one of the best preserved sites of the Gulf of California. This marine protected area has a great biological wealth, registering 292 species of flora and fauna both marine and terrestrial, of which 42 species are protected, either by the Mexican laws (NOM ECOL-059 2001), 30 in the IUCN Red List and 36 under CITES.

This island is home to the world´s largest nesting colonies of blue-footed boobies (Sula nebouxii) and brown boobies (Sula leucogaster), one of the largest colonies in Mexico of brown pelicans and probably the largest colony in the Gulf of California of the red-billed tropic bird (Phaethon aethereus). It also houses the fourth most important breeding colony of sea lions (Zalophus californianus)of the Gulf of California. In its surrounding waters there are 14 species of marine mammals, big aggregations of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) frequent its western portion. In its insular habitat there are two species of endemic reptiles found only here: the lizard whiptail (Aspidoscelis martyris) and stained-sided lizard (Uta palmeri); while the Emperor black snake (Lampropeltis nigritus) is restricted to just a few islands in the Gulf.

1. NATURAL VALUES
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
CALIFORNIA SEA LIONS: The California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) population in the island is census in the summers months (July). The census is conducted through the perimeter of the island, and its islets at a distance of 15 to 20 m, by direct observation from a small-boat (7m long), classifying individuals by sex and age (adult males, sub-adults, females, juveniles and offspring). In the case of undetermined animals, they are included in the non-identified category. This monitoring determines the trend of the population, the production of offspring and the mortality index due to fishing gear (i.e. gillnets). The sea lion monitoring indicates the health of the marine ecosystem, being a top predator, and its connectivity with the island and the sea.
At least 1,000 individuals Breeding is occurring Age range distribution is reasonable.
In 2015-2016 was present s strong El Niño effect that impact negatively sea lion food resources (e.g. small pelagics as sardines and herrings). However, In the summer census of 2018, 1,401 sea lions were recorded.
From 2011 to 2018 has been a decrement of 28.37%, from 1,956 to 1,401 respectively. However, the trend since 2015/16 is rising again and numbers are above the levels recorded in 2008 (ten-year increase), current rising trend). The significance of El Nino cannot be understated.
COASTAL ROCKY REEFS: Since 2005, subtidal monitoring is carry out in the island, counting numbers of indicators invertebrates and fish, and the presence of black coral, sargassum beds, and rodoliths. For the census linear transect (30x2m) are apply at 5, 10, 15 and 20 m. Submarine monitoring is carried out both in the marine portion of the Core Zone, where any extractive activity is prohibited, and in the Buffer Zone where fishing is allowed with restrictions.
Fishbiomass remains stable or increases
The fish abundance has decrease over the years in the monitoring sites, from 2007 to 2017 the total average number of 74 fish species in 60m2 were 3,230 and 1,207, respectively. On the other hand, the biomass has been increasing, mainly in the core zone from 0.2523 to 0.4236 kg/m2 from 2007 to 2017. Abundance of invertebrates has been increasing, from 1,812 (2007) to 4,239 (2016).
In general the invertebrate and fish fauna are in better conditions that in other areas of the Gulf of California. In general the invertebrate abundances are increasing, and in the case of fish the numbers are decreasing but the biomass increasing. There is a general cycle of 5-6 years, of fish increment –decrement abundance
SEA BIRDS NESTING: Ten quadrants (10m x 10m) were established for the monitoring of blue footed boobies (Sula nebouxii); five quadrants distributed at the top in the cardon (Pachycereus pringlei) forest and five more distributed along a canyon. All the nests are counted within the quadrants and in each nest the number of adults (individual or couple), number of eggs and number of chicks are recorder. Craveri’s Murrelet abundance is also monitored through regular bird-watching surveys
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A total of 11 nests have been registered in the ten quadrants in 2018. The largest nesting record of blue footed boobies in the ten quadrants was in 2010 with 41 nest, but in 2014/2015 no nests were found.
Stable, yet some annual variety. A low number of nests has been recorded since El Niño 2015/2016.
ENDEMIC REPTILES: The monitoring is carried out in two main habitats of the islands, top (cardon forest) and rocky coast. Census of the endemic lizards Aspidoscelis martyris and Uta palmeri are done through 300x 5 m transects one time per year. This monitoring allows us to know the density of the two species, and due to its sensitivity it can be considered a good indicator of impacts or disturbances to the insular ecosystem.
As the required hábitat is only 0.3 hectares, the thresholds for success are also based on maintaining viable hábitat (see below). It is also dependent on continued avoidance of rats following the eradication in 2007 (see below) Within the área of hábitat, success is determined for these three values, as: Minimum population > 2007 density Overall 10-year population trend that is increasing, and stablising after El Nino / La Nina events and other climate disruptions
Since the rat eradication in 2007 the numbers are increasing for both species. A. martyris had a density of 13 individuals / 0.30 ha and in 2017 103 ind/0.30ha. In the case of U. palmeri, the density increment from 37 ind/0.30ha to 77 ind/0.30ha in the same years.
A low density has been registered in the two lizards in 2015/2016, is probably due to the presence of the Niño. Since they depend indirectly on the nesting success of the seabirds, as a result of interdependencies with them in the provision of food. The density of the two species of lizards are low, but the populations are with a stable and increasing tendency after the rat eradication.
Terrestrial habitat: Terrestrial habitat is monitored regularly by ranger patrols and by remote sensing (aerial imagery). In particular, the area of columnar cacti is monitored for changes and status. Invasive alien species presence is also monitored, especially for any sign of return of black or brown rats.
Habitat coverage is consistent and balanced. No decrease in area of columnar cacti. No rats or other major alien invasive species occur; and are contained immediately in case of detection.
Habitat status is stable and increasing, especially since eradication of rats and recovery of bird and reptile populations.
Climate events offer uncertainty but habitat is more resilient since eradication of rats and increase in nesting seabird populations.
2. ECOSYSTEM SERVICE VALUES
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
STOCK FOR ARTISANAL AND SPORT FISHING: The main fisheries in the island are those using fish traps in deep waters (>200m) and hook and line in the coastal areas. In the island seven species of invertebrates and 17 of fish are extracted in low quantities.
Catch rates are low yet sustained
Good and increasing according to local surveys.
It is necessary an update an assessment of the fishing effort in the island, yet the island is not considered a hot spot of commercial fishing due to its distance from the coast, and only artisanal fishers are allowed permits in the buffer zone.
Attractive resources for tourism: Due to its good condition, partly because of its privileged location in the middle of the Gulf of California in oceanic condition, the island provides the possibility of observing a great diversity of marine and insular species, among: fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), tropical whale (B. edeni), blue whale (B. musculus), gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), common dolphin (Delphinus capensis), orca (Orcinus orca), the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), brown turtle (Chelonia agassizi), and a great diversity of seabirds.
No threshold is established for mega fauna species. They are relatively common in the reserve.
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3. VALORES CULTURALES
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable

Conservation Summary

  • Site visit report: compiled by the EAGL member responsible. Visit took place between 04 and 05 September 2018. Summary of evaluation and recommendations shared with EAGL ahead of their full evaluation call on 27th October 2018.
  • EAGL consensus and vote: UNANIMOUS support and consensus on SPMIBR

EAGL statement:

Before the visit to the Island San Pedro Mártir Biosphere Reserve, the EAGL reviewed the site  the visit, the Global Standard indicators were evaluated with the stakeholders and right holders with the EAGL, based on the sources of verification, meeting with stakeholders and right holders, PA team, mentor and one researcher. Subsequently, the EAGL gave their collective opinion and that is why the candidate phase is complete; our assessment is that the Island San Pedro Mártir Biosphere Reserve is an example of a protected area that is well designed and possesses good administration and planning, as well as effective governance. It complies with the indicators of the Global Standard of the Green List of components: Governance, Design and Planning, Effective Management and Results of Successful Conservation. 

A robust corps of scientific and technical information has been long available for this PA, including data on fisheries, the nature and structure of the seabed, the location of breeding areas for seabirds, and historical and current uses of natural resources. The Previous Justificatory Study was conducted by COBI. Then, expert workshops were held to analyze alternative zoning proposals for the PA. A key criterion was the probability that fishermen would respect the zoning and its restrictions.
Eight habitats are distinguished in the PA, six marine habitats, an interface habitat, and one terrestrial habitat. Initiated by Prescott College and COBI, there is continuous monitoring of human uses, which is the responsibility of PA personnel since 2005. In total, 126 monitoring trips have been made, both to the core and the buffer zones. These reports show that information and environmental education are bringing about changes in the patterns of use by fishermen.  

Reviewer statement:

The Reviewer validates San Pedro Martir Island Biosphere Reserv’s Green Listing process as being in conformity with the User Manual’s rules and procedures. The on-site visit to the Biosphere Reserve Isla San Pedro Martir dated 4-5 September 2018 -which follow a detailed agenda posted in COMPASS August 24th, 2018-, included the participation on next Reserves offices: CONANP Guaymas, CONANP Bahía Kino, Sonora, and the Island, where confirmed the establishment of management actions, with the participation of governmental, social sectors, right holders, mentor and one researcher. From 2011 the community of Bahía de Kino, Sonora promotes the benefits of respecting the marine protected area of the Island. The campaign to involved local participation used the Pride Methodology of the NGO Rare Conservation, and as mentions in the EAGL`s report, the community promoters are doing a great job in terms of environmental education and increased awareness has resulted in the reduction of environmental illicit activities and important changes in attitudes. As illustrated in the map of the agenda for the on-site visit, the island monitoring included Barra Rabijunco – Limantur North, Barra Baya, islet Craveri, and Limantur South. Based on the EAGL`s site visit report, the Biosphere Reserve Isla San Pedro Martir is in compliance with the indicators of the IUCN Green List Standard for the components Governance, Design and Planning, Effective Management and Results of Successful Conservation. Regarding the EAGL Review of Site Performance, the group of Experts (EAGL-Mexico), concluded that the PA is doing very well in this regard, and are in agreement with the EAGL report of the site visit

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