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Isabel Island


Conservation benefit:Restoration and protection of 2.6 acres of coral reef

Community benefit:Improved livelihoods for fishers beyond protected area

Date Approved: 02.2024


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

The coral reefs and mangroves of   Isabel Island National Park form the foundation of amazing ecosystems. The area hosts dense colonies of seabirds as well as populations of whale sharks and humpback whales. Olive ridley, green, and Pacific hawksbill sea turtles, all in danger of extinction, are found there. The reefs and mangroves also support important commercial fisheries, which local people rely on.

Warming seas, however, have damaged the coral, endangering all of the species that depend on it. Preliminary data say that 90 percent of the natural reef has suffered damage this year.

This project will replant coral in 2.6 acres (one hectare) of reef with species of Pocilloporidae, commonly called cauliflower corals, in two spots near the island. Using techniques that have already worked well in the area, small coral pieces would be collected locally and outplanted onto simple metal domes.

Our nonprofit partner has a very good record with previous coral restoration efforts in the region, and the prospect for success here is also good. Members of the local fishers’ cooperatives, who have proven themselves good stewards of the marine environment, will install the supporting structures (domes), outplant the coral fragments, and then vigilantly protect the area.

Pronatura Noroeste, an arm of Mexico’s oldest and largest conservation group, is leading the project. The Autonomous University of Nayarit and national park management provide training and support, and the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas granted the necessary permits.

We already have a successful partnership with the Isabel Island fishers and Pronatura Noroeste. In 2018, Seacology made a grant to the fishermen’s cooperatives, who created a 528-acre no-take zone around the island and installed buoys and lobster shelters.

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