Ducks Unlimited de Mexico (DUMAC) is conducting a profoundly important assessment of the impacts of Mexico’s shrimp-farming industry. Satellite technology is being used to measure where new shrimp farms have been developed between 1992 and 2003. The results for Sinaloa are alarming. During that time period, 28,202 acres of mangroves were lost under the footprint of shrimp farms or in adjacent areas where the natural water flow was interrupted, which starved or flooded the mangroves.
The analysis continues in Sonora and Nyarit thanks to funding from the U.S. Forest Service. However, the results for Sinaloa provide a wake-up call for all who are interested in conserving this vital wetland resource for Mexico and for all the North American birds that use this habitat. DUMAC shares research results with state and federal officials and is also conducting a series of training programs for biologists and managers to help them understand and be responsive to the threats that uncontrolled loss of mangrove swamps would cause.
Mexico still has some of the most unspoiled mangrove wetlands in the world, and sustaining them is vitally important. Ducks Unlimited’s priority is to protect existing mangrove wetlands. Mexico is still in an excellent position to secure most of its mangrove wetlands for the future. The critical challenges being addressed by DUMAC are to bring about a much broader awareness of this problem and then to find solutions that can be applied through regulation along with better site selection and management practices for new shrimp farms. DUMAC believes the shrimp-farming industry can be developed in a manner that is compatible with wetland protection by using ecologically sound site selection processes while ensuring the industry’s sustainability and profitability. Thanks to DUMAC’s strong scientific work, we have a chance to successfully conserve the mangroves and spectacular associated wetlands along the west coast of Mexico.