A proposal for Lake Patzcuaro Restoration, Mexico

Author(s): Arturo Chacon
Email (s): achacont@gmail.com
Institution or organization of origin: Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo
Country: Mexico


Patzcuaro represents one of the most important lakes in Mexico. Its geographical location, diversity of environments, native fish fauna and the settlements of P’urhepecha Indian communities around its shores, identify Lake Patzcuaro as an important national inheritance with historical, ecological, social, and cultural value. For centuries, local fisheries have been based upon the captures of “white fish” whith a very high market value, “charales” (species of the same genus smaller in size), “acúmara”, and “achoque”, all considered as unique and endemic aquatic fauna. Fishing is the basis of the subsistence economy of P’urhepecha communities. First limnological studies in Lake Patzcuaro were in 1937 by the Japanese scientists Yoshiichi Matsui and Toshie Yamashita, but the lake has been subjected to irrational exploitation, and it is in an accelerated process of environmental degradation, including deforestation, erosion, siltation, pollution, overfishing, exotic fish species, incompatible lake management and lack of coordination between institutions.

Lake restoration and conservation proposal is presented compatible with regional ecology and economic and cultural identity. Six strategies: 1) strengthening social organization; 2) building capacity and social involvement; 3) ecological restoration; 4) cultural identity reinforcement; 5) scientific research and technological innovation; 6) regional self-sufficiency. Strategies are articulated with programs orientated towards 1) local awareness and consciousness 2) local processes control. Programs associated to the six strategies include scientific information access, appropriate regional technology, ecological restoration, fishing management, territory ordination, artisanal development, lake clean water action, urban ecology, environmental education, biodiversity conservation, ecological tourism, cultural identity, micro planning administration and food production.

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