In 2014, the Loreto COASTKEEPER® initiative became fully operational with the help of our advisory scientist, Chuck Mitchell, and the efforts of Héctor Trinidad, Director of Programs and Alex Estrada, Program Associate. The water-monitoring program of the beaches in and around Loreto was established to better inform the public about clean, swimmable beaches.

Bi-monthly samples are taken at 12 separate beaches (weekly during the summer), and processed in Eco- Alianza’s water testing laboratory. The results are posted on the Eco-Alianza Facebook page and the WATERKEEPER Swim Guide App for smart phones and tablets. Municipal authorities also are notified of sampling results. This initiative connects Eco-Alianza and Loreto with 222 worldwide members of the WATERKEEPER Alliance, as well as the Baja Alliance.

Eco-Alianza’s water testing laboratory also serves as a resource to provide unbiased testing of water samples for nearby municipalities and organizations. We expect that it soon will be officially certified for testing of water samples for state- and federal-level evaluations. Loreto COASTKEEPER also mentors the Santa Rosalia COASTKEEPER.

Observatorios Ciudadanos

Eco-Alianza signed an agreement in February, 2014, with the Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto (PNBL) to collaborate for mutual benefit. We work with park managers and local fishermen to coordinate, monitor and observe activities within the park, with a mission to promote conservation through education and training. The ultimate goal is to empower fishermen and other users of the park to take care of fisheries resources to achieve high marine productivity and biodiversity, while concurrently protecting and enhancing all of the Park’s natural resources

As Park budgets are increasingly squeezed in difficult economic times, our support of the Park’s surveillance and monitoring activities has become increasingly important. Additionally, we are working to increase the participation of Loreto citizens through the Park Advisory Board, a citizen support group that is already in place. Our Director of Marine and Coastal Conservation, Héctor Trinidad, serves as President of the Advisory Board.

Community Fisheries

Eco-Alianza continues to explore and provide educational practices in support of the growth of responsible artisanal fisheries in Loreto. Projects are focused on strengthening the capacity of local fishing cooperatives through technical assistance. This contributes to employment, health of the marine ecosystems, and the integrity of the fishing communities. Encouraging the use of fishing logbooks and other science-based management tools provides the opportunity for cooperatives to better understand the population dynamics of the fishery and the issues around sustainability and best practices.

Conserving Benthic Resources

Eco-Alianza is working with marine biologists and fishing cooperatives to assess the population dynamics of benthic species within PNBL, including sea cucumbers and scallops. Monitoring and evaluation of results, in cooperation with Park authorities, will produce recommendations for sustainable harvest levels and for any appropriate management actions.

Chocolate Clam Research and Management

Eco-Alianza for several years has been actively involved in research of Loreto’s iconic bivalve species, the chocolate clam. Considering its importance, accurate and current scientific knowledge of the biology, ecology, and population dynamics of this species is critical.

Mexico’s National Institute of Fisheries (INAPESCA), through its regional center for fisheries research (CRIP – La Paz), is conducting a project to lay the groundwork for a regional chocolate clam management plan. The scientific work is being conducted in collaboration with Pronatura Noroeste A.C., with the technical participation of Eco-Alianza.

The ultimate goal of this project is to use the data as the basis for a plan to manage the chocolate clam resource, to allow a responsible and sustainable harvest of this important resource for Loreto.

Paralelo 28/Se Buscan Héroes

This collaborative program involves four non-profit organizations — Eco-Alianza, Pronatura Noroeste, Niparajá, and Red de Observadores Ciudadanos (ROC), More information is available on the website www.Paralelo28.org

The collaboration seeks to raise public awareness of the threats to Natural Protected Areas in our region, and also to raise funds specifically earmarked for surveillance and enforcement.

Watershed Protection Campaign

Eco-Alianza supports policies, strategies and activities to manage freshwater as a sustainable resource to assure secure and safe water supplies for the community and environment and future generations. For several years the focus of this effort was passage of the POEL, a 496-page ordinance for the municipality of Loreto that specifically outlines and regulates land use, on the basis of environmental factors. Loreto is one of only a few municipalities in all of México with legislation of this kind. Eco-Alianza contributed significantly to the passage of this important legislation.

Passage of the POEL (in 2013) provides a measure of protection against mining, inappropriate development, and other activities that could threaten groundwater and other water resources. With the POEL in place, Eco- Alianza is pursuing additional levels of protection to ensure that potentially harmful activities are curtailed and Loreto’s water sources are protected in perpetuity.

Sister Parks

More than three years ago, Eco-Alianza initiated the concept of creating a formal Sister Park relationship between the Bay of Loreto National Park in Mexico and the Channel Islands National Park in Ventura, California, USA. The parks are strikingly similar, each with five islands, many endangered species, and fisheries under pressure, yet tremendous interest and potential support from the public at large.

With the Sister Parks agreement approved, planning is underway to establish information sharing relationships and avenues through which PNBL managers can benefit from the experience and expertise of the Channel Islands National Park staff.