Last Friday Earth Ocean Farms, a leader in mariculture in Mexico, successfully released 30,000 juvenile totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi), an endangered fish species that is unique to Mexico, back into the Sea of Cortez, as part of a groundbreaking program to save the species, protect the ocean ecosystem, and provide new economic development options for the state. This historic totoaba re-stocking is the largest in the history of Baja California Sur and was undertaken in close collaboration with SEMARNAT, CONAPESCA, the Baja California Sur Governor’s office, the Municipality of Mulege, Eco-Alianza de Loreto, and Alianza Waterkeeper-Mulege, on the shores of Playa Santispac in Bahia Concepción.
Native to the Gulf of California, the totoaba was once abundant in the waters of the state. Thanks to the efforts of La Paz-based Earth Ocean Farms, today the totoaba is being sustainably bred, and raised, and released into the wild, becoming an integral part of a comprehensive, science-based re-stocking plan being implemented on a national level by the University of Baja California (UABC) and the Aquaculture Institute of Sonora (IAES).
For the past three years, Earth Ocean Farms has been instrumental in two prior re-stocking efforts, with the first occurring in December 2015 with a release of 1,500 juvenile totoabas and a second release of 15,000 juveniles in August 2016.
The July 14 event represents a two-fold increase in the number of juvenile totoaba released on a single event in coastal waters of Baja California Sur.
“The success of Earth Ocean Farms’ totoaba re-stocking program helps to demonstrate that mariculture offers a viable conservation alternative to this endangered species that has been threatened due to over-fishing” according to Mr. Pablo Konietzko, Director of Earth Ocean Farms.
Dr. Pablo Arenas Fuentes, General Director of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Institute in Mexico (INAPESCA), stated: “Last week’s successful release of 30,000 juvenile totoabas demonstrates the important role that the private sector can play in working together with the Mexican Government to promote not only environmental education but also the totoaba’s survival and its commercialization on a sustainable basis. For this reason, I am pleased to have Earth Ocean Farms as a trusted private sector partner in our sustainably mariculture and conservation efforts”.
The Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) has stressed "the importance of working together with state and municipal authorities, as well as with the private sector and academia in joint efforts for the protection and repopulation of the totoaba"