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From unsustainable fishing to sustainable eco-tourism and research


Amoara is our shark conservation project based on collaboration with the local fishing community, and scientific research that aims for a higher protection of nursery areas of sharks in the Mexican state Nayarit. 


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Sharks are on the complete top of the oceanic food chain - they are apex predators of our oceans. As such, they play a crucial role in the ecosystem by maintaining the species below them in the food chain in balance. They help remove the weak and the sick as well as ensure species diversity. Sharks play a vital role in keeping our oceans in balance and they serve as an indicator of ocean health.

Sharks populations declined by more than 70 % in the last 50 years, mainly because of overfishing.

Nobody can tell what exactly would happen if sharks disappeared from our oceans completely, as it would be an unprecedented event, but we could expect that the ocean as we know it now, would change drastically. Studies have already proven several crucial roles of sharks in our oceans. Without sharks, we could expect overpopulation of some species and the disappearance of others, loss of biodiversity, decline of coral reefs, etc. Some studies even link sharks to the climate change. 


For the future of our healthy oceans, it is crucial that we put shark conservation as one of our priorities. 

Nayarit is one of the states with the highest numbers of sharks being fished out in the entire Mexico according to the annual statistics of CONAPESCA, the Mexican national committee of aquaculture and fisheries.

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San Blas is a fishing town north of Puerto Vallarta. San Blas is a beautiful place nested in mangrove forests, with access to the open Pacific Ocean full of marine life. It is a place we chose as a base for our shark conservation program - a place where we cooperate with the local community of fishermen and the Autonomous University of Sinaloa to study the importance of this area. Mangrove areas around San Blas serve as nurseries for juvenile sharks - a place where sharks spend the first part of their lives until they are big and strong enough to begin their journey in the open blue. Unsustainable fishing has a devastating impact on this area and that is why we are trying to offer an alternative source of income for the local fishermen. 



The goal of our research is to characterize the shark nurseries areas in the San Blas area. In this research, Blue Religion collaborates with SIRBAA (Mexican consulting firm specializing in fisheries, aquaculture and environmental sector through data-driven solutions that offer its data analytical capacities for AMOARA project) and the scientific advisor Profesor J. Fernando Márquez-Farías, PhD. from the Autonomous University of Sinaloa. 

Mangrove areas such as those in San Blas are known as places that are used by sharks as nurseries - coastal waters used by shark juveniles to a certain age as shelter for protection and food source. For sharks, these areas replace the parental care of the mother for her youngs and are crucial for their survival.

In San Blas, the shark nursery areas overlap with the areas of traditional fishing activity. That means that the juvenile sharks are being fished out, either intentionally or as by-catch, before they have a chance to leave the nursery area, start their lives in the open ocean where they serve as an important part of the food chain, or reproduce. 


The research will help us to understand species diversity, the seasonal abundance of neonates and juveniles, and the exact areas of the nurseries. These characteristics are key elements to consider in the conservation and management of shark fisheries in the area and in establishing a higher protection of the area.

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Project AMOARA also aims to target the problem from the side of the fishermen and offer them an alternative source of income in the form of ecotourism. The aim is not to prohibit fishing as a source of income that is often handed down from generation to generation and is a source of livelihood for the whole community but to communicate and offer new jobs in the sustainable tourism sector.


The area of San Blas is a place of abundant and diverse wildlife - you can swim with whale sharks, manta rays, and dolphins here. You can watch humpback whales and their calves. San Blas is also surrounded by mangroves with many species of rare birds, iguanas, and crocodiles that you can watch from the boat. Even on a global scale, such diversity of wildlife in one place is very special and this area deserves to thrive from sustainable activities. To bring tourism to this area means new job opportunities not only to the fishermen, who know the ocean better than anyone else but to the entire community.


However, it is extremely important to put emphasis on the sustainability of these activities so the local community is the one who benefits the most in the long term.

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