Tourism activities centered around witnessing the great white sharks near Mexico’s Isla Guadalupe have been banned by the government.
Mexican officials barred shark-watching activities, sport fishing and the use of drones for nonscientific purposes in their new edict, which went into place last month.
“The prohibition of the observation of the white shark for recreational purposes eliminates the bad practices that put this species at risk due to the use of attractants and observation cages,” the announcement said.
The island, which sits 160 miles off the coast of Baja California, has been labeled a Biosphere Reserve by the Mexican government since 2005. Officials argued that shark tourism prevents the government’s work in monitoring and helping preserve the creatures’ habitats.
Isla Guadalupe is a hot spot for sharks due to its warm water and abundance of marine wildlife, according to USA Today. Business owners have taken notice, with companies that run shark cage diving expeditions jumping from six to 10 in 2014-19. Nearly 3,000 people participated in some form of shark cage tourism on the island in 2019.
The ban has already caused one company to close.
“Unfortunately, the closure of Guadalupe Island has left us financially tapped out,” San Diego-based Horizon Charters said, per USA Today.
However, Canadian-based Nautilus Dive Adventures is banking on the ban being short-lived.
“The great white shark national park at Guadalupe Island will reopen,” the company posted in a message on its website, according to CNN. “It might be tomorrow or it might be in five years’ time. A power-hungry NGO was able to reach into government and facilitate the shutdown. It won’t last.”
The company didn’t name the nongovernmental organization.
• Matt Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.
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