Barrio El Manglito
The Baja Peninsula in Mexico is known for it's jewel-like coastline and incredible marine diversity. The author John Steinbeck wrote two books about Baja - The Log of the Sea of Cortez and The Pearl. Both these books feature the lives of dive fishermen, particularly pearl divers. The descendants of the fishermen that Steinbeck highlighted in his books live in the a small neighborhood of El Manglito within the city of La Paz, Baja California Sur.
The fishermen's ancestors were pearl divers. Known to have provided the famous pearl on the crown of Queen Elizabeth and also as the source of the famous Legend of Mechudo, the fishing culture flows powerfully through the veins of their ancestors.
the decline of the fishery
As the pearl diving industry began to decline, the fishermen moved on to fish scallops and clams commercially, particularly the Pen Shell clam and the Catarina scallop. Over time, new fishermen began entering the fishery. Coupled with poor enforcement and the allowance of large commercial fishing ships, the population of these species also began to decline. Once Hurricane Liza arrived in 1976, the fishermen began to leave their traditional fishing ground and species and search throughout Baja, Sonora and Sinaloa for other fishing opportunities.
The restoration of the ensenada de la paz
By 2000, the El Manglito fishing community was disjointed. Neighbors did not talk to one another, despite practically everybody having family ties. The NGO Noroeste Sustentable A.C. (NOS) arrived in El Manglito with the goal of discouraging illegal fishing. Through beach and ocean cleanups and supporting the community's soccer and baseball team, NOS was able to gain the trust of key leaders in the community.
Over 80 fishermen currently participate in restoration activities - illegal fishing surveillance, Pen Shell clams and Catarina scallop restoration activities, and an annual stock assessment of the clams and scallops. In the short video below, the fishermen will describe the history and the current restoration efforts.