What is the Barra to Baja Fishermen’s Learning Exchange and why does it matter?
The Barra to Baja Learning Exchange was a fact finding mission to Baja to meet peers who have saved their local oceans by taking marine protection measures. The trip felt like a visit to the future for Barra de Potosí local thought leaders, many of whom had never been more than 50 miles from their home. The opportunity to see Cabo Pulmo, Laguna San Ignacio, La Paz and Punta Abreojos in person and learn their histories in person was a powerful first step to catalyze real, lasting change in our own region.
The community representatives who traveled to Baja through this program have gone on to become impactful leaders in conservation and community development in a variety of ways.
Steps and Timeline:
We introduced the idea of the learning exchange to the local tourism coop and they were enthusiastic. Upon successful attainment of funding, we began the official process by showing the village documentaries about Baja and discussed the exchange with the village.
During a weeklong planning expedition, a small group of village leaders and WGRP team members will met with peers in each location and observed first-hand their thriving environments and communities. As a group, we documented the journey and conducted interviews to share with the village and extended region upon our return.
Here’s a little video we made and shared with the village in May 2018:
The village selected 14 men and women who are respected thought leaders to embark on the mission, along with three team members from the Whales of Guerrero Research Project. We secured invitations from host communities in Baja and put an expedition documentation and post-trip information-sharing plan into place. 14 community thought leaders traveled to Baja with the WGRP team for a week-long deep dive with several fishing and ecotourism focused communities that have gotten conservation right.
Spring 2019-Spring 2021:
Upon completion of the expedition, we began to facilitate monthly stakeholders’ meetings to initiate local marine protection and conservation measures. We are working directly with participants via monthly and quarterly intensive workshops to refine the vision, plan, objectives and activities. Community leaders from Baja have visited (and will continue to visit) our region to meet with project participants and the local community during this period. Information generated is being distributed to communities, conservation and tourism organizations and government officials by report and in person following each meeting. Our goal is to have a community-created marine management plan drafted, reviewed by all key opinion leaders and policy makers in place by the end of winter 2021.
Who went to Baja?
14 villagers and 3 WoG team members. We brought a combination of committed conservationists and more exploitative fishermen on the trip. A combination of men and women traveled and all participants are well-respected thought leaders, selected by the community to serve as their delegates. From the Whales of Guerrero team, Katherina Audley, Arturo Mellin and Andrea García Chavez facilitated and coordinated all expedition logistics and Avimael Cadena oversaw pre- and post-trip interview and documentation.
Here is a 20-minute documentary created by Avimael Cadena to share our experience with the village (and the world!) after the expedition: