Keep in Touch

Subscribe to stay up to date on Seacology’s events, trips, and projects.

  • Email Address
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



Guadalupe Island


Conservation benefit: 1,235-acre marine reserve for 10 years

Community benefit: Sea water desalination system

Date Approved: 01.2010


This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

Guadalupe Island, with a total land area of 80,000 acres, is one of the most remote islands of Mexico. It also has one of the best preserved marine environments in the country. In 2007, the government decreed the Guadalupe Island Biosphere Reserve. Since then, the Natural Protected Areas Commission has protected the island’s natural resources. Guadalupe Island is a great example of cooperation between government and nonprofit entities to help an island ecosystem recover. (In 2000 and 2002, Seacology funded fences to keep invasive goats out of sensitive areas with endemic plant species. Goats have since been removed from the island.)

The island’s only community consists mostly of families who have been fishing for lobster and diving for abalone for decades. They must haul water on a rough road from a small spring 10 miles away, and their most urgent need is a water desalination plant. With Seacology’s help, the community will buy a desalinization system that can supply up to 3,000 gallons per day. The water supply could also support reforestation and restoration, particularly in the remaining patches of endemic forest.

In exchange, the community will create and protect a 1,235-acre marine reserve. Reserve rules prohibit fishing, extraction of resources, damage to the sea floor, contamination, and any other kind of damage for 10 years.

Project Updates

February 2014

The desalination plant continues to operate smoothly, providing fresh water for cooking and cleaning. (Seawater is used for toilets.) With water available, children can now stay on-island to attend school. Families live on the island from September to June, for the lobster and abalone seasons. The Fisheries Secretary of Baja California visited the island and project. The marine reserve has been continually protected, and neither island residents nor visitors have fished there.

Read more

February 2013

The desalination system is providing clean water for community members. The fishers’ cooperative has been respecting the protected area for the last year, since the agreement. No demarcation signals or buoys have been placed for outsiders, who have very little activity in the area.

Read more

June 2011

The desalination plant was pre-assembled in April 2011 and arrived on the island on April 15 on a navy boat. The building that will hold the plant is ready. The technicians from the desalination company were scheduled to arrive on the island to assemble the plant, test its operation, and train locals on its maintenance during late April and early May.

Read more

September 2010

Field representative José Angel Sánchez Pacheco reports that the Guadalupe Island cooperative has received the environmental impact assessment. They expect to have the results of the final analyses soon. Shortly after that they will purchase the plant and install it.

Read more

May 2010

Field representative José Angel Sánchez Pacheco reports that before the desalination system on the island can be installed, the community needs permits and an environmental impact assessment, because it is a Federal Natural Protected Area. The Guadalupe cooperative applied for a grant from the State of Baja California Fisheries Department to pay for the study and get the permits. Currently, the study is in progress with the support of the NPA managers. Additionally, the company that will provide and install the system, and train local people to maintain it, found a system that will produce double the water capacity for the same price.

Read more
- +