SOS Issued: Mazatlan’s Laguna Huizache-Caimanero could disappear in 15 years


In the last 10 years, the rate of siltation of the lagoon system has increased by 500 percent, going from 1 to 5 centimeters per year, warns a specialist

MAZATLAN.- If work is not done immediately on the Laguna del Huizache-Caimanero, it could disappear in approximately 15 years, warned Román Alejandro Canul Turriza, a specialist in Coastal Engineering from UNAM, who works in collaboration with the civil association Conselva, Coasts and Communities in the first Hydrogeomorphological Management Plan for this area.  

The lagoon is located in the southeastern part of the Gulf of California, between the Presidio and Baluarte rivers. The northernmost part of the lagoon corresponds to the municipality of Mazatlán and the rest to Rosario, being approximately 17 kilometers from Mazatlán.  

According to Canul Turriza, director of the project funded by the Cornell University Coastal Solutions Program, if no action is taken, the lagoon could disappear in 15 years due to a large amount of sediment from the Baluarte river basin. 

Photo: Courtesy

Among the main threats of this situation are deforestation and mortality of mangroves, the construction, and placement of infrastructure without technical support, and high sediment rates.  

Senator Raúl de Jesús Elenes Angulo, researchers, Conselva, and local legislators, as well as members of the fishing community, agreed to join forces to rescue what was once the most productive lagoon ecosystem for shrimp in the Mexican Pacific.  

Restauración del sistema Huizache-Caimanero: la laguna costera pesquera más  productiva del Pacífico mexicano - SDSN México | Red de Desarrollo  Sostenible MX2030

This Hydrogeomorphological Management Plan, headed by the environmental association, proposes restoration actions, reestablishment of hydrological connectivity, preservation of priority sites, and adaptation to sea-level rise; strengthened by a participatory process of governance and construction of agreements between the sectors.  

Photos: Courtesy

Currently, 85 percent of the land around Huizache Caimanero is cultivated, which implies a 39 percent growth in agriculture compared to 1990. Similarly, there is a 78 percent reduction in mangroves, as well as in around 3 thousand hectares of the lagoon body.  

The Huizache-Caimanero is one of the least economically and socially developed coastal regions of the entity. The fishing resources of this body of water are the main source of animal protein for most of the surrounding towns, mainly shrimp. 

Among the 19 fishing production cooperatives, there are almost 2,000 members, which is why it was considered one of the most productive shrimp in the Mexican Pacific.  

This lagoon is being fragmented by sediment deposition processes caused by natural and anthropogenic causes. Currently, it consists of two shallow basins with variable water levels that depend on rainfall and river contributions. Its main geomorphological features are a long and narrow sandy barrier called Isla Palmito de la Virgen, and two mouths that are closed but frequently dredged by fishermen or authorities to keep them open. 

Con programa piloto duplican producción de captura de camarón en el Huizache -Caimanero - Ríodoce

This lagoon is the habitat of 83 species of fish, and important populations of shorebirds, and is strategically located on the migratory route of wintering birds, as well as an undetermined number of mammals, reptiles, amphibians. It is also a temporary habitat for the penaeid shrimp that inhabit the area and essential habitat for the white shrimp species. 

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