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What is about the proposed conservation area at Northwestern Peruvian sea?

A FACTORTIERRA.NET Review . Turn in Spanish

Once upon a day, they came somewhere this big ocean. Now, they are the stars of their own show. Photo Courtesy by Claudia samaniegho.

EL ÑURO, Peru – The green turtles (Chelonia midas) came in upon a day and did not run away anymore, especially when fishermen set an unwritten agreement for giving them a place and food. Somebody was apparently domesticating.

The postcard attracted the first tourists who left being simple spectators becoming a sort of extended family for the chelonians.

Today, fishermen addended their symbiotic agreement – no papers, no signatures, pure good will. They are partners ofan initiative which tourists swim with the reptiles, pay the fishermen, an everybody likes to have what they need: home, money, food and amusement.

Biologists say something warmed up by some degrees the sea aside el Ñuro, and that atracted the turtles. Initially, it seemed to be a sign of a el Niño [pronounce "El Neeño"] strong event was coming on but it never arrived, or so powerless despite the expected at least.

Turtles seem to be the most recent inhabitants of this harbor located at Los Órganos District south, Talara County. Butterfly fishes, seahorses, morays, and crabs already lived there but its riches should be into the sea, where it is projected a conservation initiative that is moving all the continent in favor.

Estimations say that Pacific Ocean between Piura state central shores and Tumbes state southern shores concentrate 70% of marine diversity along Peru, as
Nature and Culture International’s (NCI) executive director Alexander More explained to Radio Cutivalu. That means 50% of Peru’s artisan fishermen Working here.

According to Mr. More, marine population is decreasing as well as it is happening around the globe, unless a proposal for protectting 1140 sq km of sea to be approved including el Ñuro and considering Foca Island to the South, Punta Sal Reefs to the North, and Máncora Bank along that strip.

Peruvian government is also involved on the crusade through National Service of Protected Natural Areas (SERNANP as in Spanish), according to its Piura’s chief officer Aldo Aguirre has told the same radio station. He proposes a management of the space from many sectors.

Crabs are common at any beach, but scientists try to understand how this specime in particular interacts among cold and warm ocean water. Photo Courtesy by Claudia samaniego.

Lions with identity crisis
The reason why such as diversity seems to be the confluency of Humboldt Current what adds cold water from Antarctica, and Equatorial or el Niño Current what adds warm water from Oceania, plus an under surface stream against both what likely adds warm water aside Paita City.

As many marine flows converge in this zone, they conditionate the dispersion of marine larva and influence the patterns of migration, moving and distribution (reproduction and feeding) of a big amount of species nationally and internationally relevant,” author Guillermo Castro pointed out.

I’m convinced that Peruvian coastal flow is located in the most fertile area of the world, and that is the most important physical and biological phenomenom of the Earth,” San Diego, Calif.-based Scripp Institution of Oceanography’s former director Roger revelle became to state.

One of the places where is possible to appreciate this effect quietly is Foca Island, 0,92 sq km surface, 1 km off La Islilla (pronounce “Le Eesleeya”)harbor shore (Paita), 5°12’34” South latitude, 81°1’23” West longitude.

According to Wikipedia in Spanish, specialist have found “3 species of mammals, 34 species of birds –which 8 have a nest at the island, 3 species of reptiles, 54 species of fishes, 32species of molluscs, 30 species of echinoderms, and 28 species of crustaceans.”

The website quotes this could be the Northernest place where Humboldt Penguin (
Spheniscus humboldti) reproduces, and it has created such anxiety regarding to a reduced colony of South American fine sea lions, those also use the island to reproduce.

Currently, it is belief they are linked to individuals of Mazorca Island National Reserve (Lima), about 800 km to the South, what could become in
Arthophoca australis. However, there is also genetic evidence that links them to possible relatives in Galápagos Islands (Ecuador), about 1500 km to the Northwest, what could become them in Arthophoca galapagoensis.

This record could represent a 765 km increasing in the current known distribution range of A. australis (Mazorca Island), or it could constitute the first record of Galápagos fine sea lions (A. galapagoensis) for Peru, enlarging almost its known distribution range in 1000 km (Galápagos Islands),” Wikipedia says.

Somebody likes sea food? In Piura, Peru, special conditions allow a great variety to taste. Photo Courtesy by Claudia samaniegho.

Abundant rates
Sometimes it is possible to watch the whales migration from Foca Island, although the show repeats along almost all the shore going up to the North, amid one of the major food reserves they (and other species) can find.

It is Máncora (pronounce “Man-cora”) Bank, a territory full of lifejust over a droned mountain made of basalt and covered of shilt and clay , built about 65 km between Cabo Blanco (pronounce “Kaabo Blanco”) (Piura) and Punta Sal (Tumbes).

Among 1989 and 1990, Institute of Peruvian Sea (IMARPEas in Spanish) explored the zone and found a rich marine diversity: “This marine bank acts like a nursery for many of these species, those find food and shelter there,” Guillermo Castro wrote.

Fauna includes dolphins andwhales (blue whales, hunchbacked whales, cachalotes, etc.), sea turtles threatened of extinction, as well as a diversitty of tuna, shark, stingrays, needle fishes (e.g. sword fish, black marlin, blue marlin, stripped marlin, , sail fish) species,” he adds.

Sun sets down at Vichayito (pronounce “Vichegito”)Beach, South besides Máncora Town, Peru. This place became one of the best rated touristic places in Piura’s Coast. Photo Courtesy by Claudia samaniego.

Scientists, fishermen and businessmen
Apparently, ProNaturaleza already had begun to advocate on the need to protect Máncora Bank in 2004, unsuccessfully. Lately, Inkaterra Asociación has come pulling a similar Project to make sustainable fishin and tourism.

Currently, it is collecting signatures for Peruvian Government to create the area what keeps Foca Island, el Ñuro, Máncora Bank and Punta Sal Reefs or Peruvian Tropical Sea Conservation Area.

Some activists said FACTORTIERRA.NET they hope a bigger control on oil & gas extraction for avoiding accidents like explosion and droning of Peruvian Navy Ship Supe, January 30
th, 2008 in the morning, while it supplied to a BPZ Energy oil company’s platform off Zorritos, Tumbes shore.

Due to Equatorial Flow direction, the oil tide went straight to Máncora Bank to the South. Authorities and BPZ stated they held the spill on time, but specialists suggest impacts only will be known in mid, long term.

Beginning April, Paita Artisan Fishermen Union’s senior secretary Arístides Chuyes warned about a project to drill 90 oil and gas pits along the sea between Máncora at North and Sechura at South.

On a statement to Radio Cutivalú, he also said he fears the proposed conservation area at Piura and Tumbes sea unallows them to fish inside 5 miles reserved for their activity. Recently, he has said the area project do not protect that strip neither.

NCI stated the pits paparwork has a different process than area’s and that the idea is determining what areas can be protected, despite. But it accepted the oil and gas concessions are “priorly existent” to the area.

SERNANP website recognizes “lately it comes being affected by illegal fishing, impacting negatively on economy of artisan fishermen and ecosystem balance.”

At the same time, it has seen an highlighting growing in touristic activity given the potential the zone presents for recreation at beaches, water sports, sport fishing and watching of turtles and whales,” it ads.

The agency assures the approval of the area could trigger sustainable tourism in almost all the Piura Central and Tumbes top beaches.

As the area objective is also keeping the biological diversity through its sustainable use, it is clear its future categorization as a direct use area will not generate a legal incompatibility with possible new oil and gas agreements suscription,” SERNANP clarifies.

Piura’s fishermen are wondering if protected area will protect their assets or others’. Photo Courtesy by Claudia samaniego.

Sail away?
The question is if Peru can guarantee respect of every space and every activity not affecting each other. Or if it can assume greater challenges like joining the Marine Corridor of Tropical Eastern Pacific Conservation – CMAR.

CMAR protects Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, Malpelo and Gorgona Islands in Colombia, Coiba Island in Panama, and Coco Island in Costa Rica,” Guillermo Castro explains. “All these recognized places as protected natural areas are nacional parks of their countries, and in case of Galápagos and Coco Island, sites of World Patrimony.”

Castro also has adopted the idea of starting up a non-profit private station that monitors the diversity and El Niño South Oscillation, because Piura is one of its critic spots around the globe
as National Geographic Society (NGS) published.
NGS Ocean Initiative’s director Miguel Ángel Jorge said to Andina Peruvian news agency that he agrees to give a formal protecttion for Máncora Bank. “This kind of protected area zonification or designation atracts international interest and promotes the sustainable and responsible use of resources among residents,” he commented.

Inclusive Maná Mexican band’s leader vocal Fher Olivera encouraged recently to Peru’s President Ollanta Humala for approving the conservation area. Until then, signatures collecting is on.

As this is a review, original copyright is kept where applicable.

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