Summary of Environmental Law in Mexico

Back to main page of the Summary of Environmental Law in North America database

chapter:  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

17 Conservation of Biological Diversity and Wildlife

 

Compare the topic 17 of Mexico with the one of Canada  You are currently analyzing mexican documentation  Compare the topic 17 of Mexico with the one of United-States



Top of page Top of page


17.1 Institutions

 

Compare the topic 17.1 of Mexico with the one of Canada  You are currently analyzing mexican documentation  Compare the topic 17.1 of Mexico with the one of United-States



Protection and management of wildlife regulations are established in three central pieces of legislation: the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (Ley General del Equilibrio Ecológico y Protección al Ambiente) (hereinafter Ecology Law); the General Wildlife Law (Ley General de Vida Silvestre); and the Fisheries Law (Ley de Pesca) and the Regulation to the Fisheries Law (Reglamento de la Ley de Pesca). Recently Mexico repealed Official Mexican Standard (Norma Oficial Mexicana (NOM)) NOM-059-ECOL-1994, and issued NOM-059-ECOL-2001, Environmental protection - Native Mexican species of wild flora and fauna - three risk categories and specifications for their inclusion, exclusion or change - List of endangered species.

Top of page Top of page


17.2 Protection and Management of Wildlife

 

Compare the topic 17.2 of Mexico with the one of Canada  You are currently analyzing mexican documentation  Compare the topic 17.2 of Mexico with the one of United-States



The Ecology Law

Articles 79 to 83 of the Ecology Law (Ley de Ecología) regulate in general terms wild flora and fauna. Wild fauna is defined as all terrestrial animal species subject to natural selection processes that inhabit either temporarily or permanently on national territories, including once domesticated animals that have been abandoned or returned to their natural habitat. Wild flora, on the other hand, include all vegetal terrestrial species, fungi and species under human control.

Any development of flora and fauna natural resources, areas or habitats, especially when endangered species are involved, must occur in a manner that does not alter the necessary conditions for the subsistence, development and evolution of such species. Pursuant to the Ecology Law, the following general criteria and measures are to be followed in managing wild flora and fauna:

  1. Preservation of biodiversity and natural species habitat;
  2. Continuation of the evolutionary processes of species and their genetic resources, including areas designated as representative for ecological systems for protection and research;
  3. Preservation and development of endemic, threatened, endangered or specially protected species;
  4. Combating the illegal trafficking of protected species;
  5. Strengthening biological reproductive seasons and repopulating wildlife species;
  6. Promoting the awareness and participation of public organizations and nongovernmental groups in activities related to the conservation of biodiversity;
  7. Promoting wildlife research to discover its genetic, scientific and economic potential;
  8. Preventing cruelty to animals;
  9. Implementing alternative production activities in rural communities, to protect biodiversity; and
  10. Using the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and communities, for the development of biodiversity protection policies.

General Wildlife Law

The General Wildlife Law (Ley General de Vida Silvestre), in conjunction with the Ecology Law, governs the conservation and sustainable use of wildlife and its habitat and is intended to harmonize the federal, state and municipal approaches within their respective jurisdictions, with regard to such matters in Mexican territory and in zones under Mexican jurisdiction.

The law specifies that the sustainable use of timber and nontimber forest resources and of species existing only in water is governed by the forestry and fisheries laws, respectively, except in the case of at-risk species and populations. In contrast to the now-repealed Hunting Law (Ley de Caza), the General Wildlife Law differentiates between land- and water-based wildlife, only with respect to those species deemed to be at risk, and species subject to fishing and thereby governed by the Fisheries Law (Ley de Pesca).

The law classified wild fauna and flora as exotic specimens or populations, feral species, harmful species, priority conservation species, at-risk species and migratory species. The aim of the national wildlife species and habitat policy is conservation through their protection and the optimum level of sustainable use. To achieve these goals, the law establishes the following principles to be fulfilled by the authorities:

  1. Conservation of genetic diversity, as well as the protection, restoration and comprehensive management of natural habitats.
  2. Preventive measures for maintaining the appropriate conditions for the evolution, viability and continuity of ecosystems, habitats and populations in their natural surroundings.
  3. The application of available scientific, technical and traditional knowledge.
  4. Public awareness of information on the importance of wildlife species and habitat conservation.
  5. Participation of owners and rightful holders in conservation, restoration and the benefits derived from sustainable use.
  6. Incentives enabling process orientation in the use of wildlife species and habitats.
  7. Processes for assessing available information on species and habitat biology.
  8. Improvement of the quality of life of captive wildlife species.
  9. Criteria for sanctions that not only penalize but also translate into actions that contribute and stimulate the transition to sustainable development.

In general terms, the law governs the following areas: national wildlife species and habitat policy; municipal, state, Federal District and federal participation in wildlife matters, negotiations and citizen participation; wildlife conservation; sustainable use of wildlife; control and safety measures; and offenses and sanctions.

CONABIO

The National Commission for the Understanding and Use of Biodiversity (Comisión Nacional para la Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO)) exists to coordinate activities and research related to understanding and preservation of biological species. CONABIO, which must meet at least once a year, has the following responsibilities:

  1. Creating and updating the National System of Biodiversity Information (Sistema Nacional de Información sobre Biodiversidad (SNIB));
  2. Supporting projects and studies on the awareness and use of biodiversity;
  3. Advising government agencies and other sectors;
  4. Undertaking special projects;
  5. Creating awareness on biological wealth; and
  6. Implementing international agreements and providing public services.

Threatened and Endangered Species

Threatened and endangered species are regulated under the general terms of the Ecology Law, the General Wildlife Law and also under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to which Mexico is a Party.

NOM-059-ECOL-2001 establishes a list of wildlife species classified as either endangered, threatened, under special protection, and probably extinct in the wild. The Accord Establishing the Classification and Codification of Merchandise whose Import or Export is Subject to Regulation by the Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries Secretariat (Acuerdo que establece la clasificaciòn y codificaciòn de mercancías cuya importación y exportación esta asujeta a regulación por parte de la Secretaría de Medio Ambiente, Recursos Naturales y Pesca), published in the Federal Official Gazette on 27 December 1995, further complements NOM-059-ECOL-2001.

All use and development of rare, threatened and endangered species requires a special permit from the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT)). Under the General Wildlife Law, the use of at-risk species may be authorized only when priority is given to the collection and capture for restoration, repopulation and reintroduction activities. Any other use involving endangered species is subject to the following:

  1. That the rates be lower than the natural renewal rate of populations subject to usage, in the case of free wildlife specimens;
  2. That they be the product of controlled reproduction, in the case of confined wildlife specimens;
  3. That there not be any negative effects on the populations and that it will not modify the specimen's life cycle, in the case of specimen parts; and
  4. That there not be any negative effects on the populations nor manipulation permanently harming the specimen, in the case of specimen derivatives;

In addition, it must be ensured that:

  1. The specimens are the product of controlled reproduction, also contributing to the development of populations in any programs, projects or actions supported by SEMARNAT, in the case of confined specimens;
  2. They contribute to the development of populations through controlled reproduction, in the case of free wildlife specimens.

Top of page Top of page


17.3 Protection and Management of Ocean Fisheries

 

Compare the topic 17.3 of Mexico with the one of Canada  You are currently analyzing mexican documentation  Compare the topic 17.3 of Mexico with the one of United-States



Constitutional Basis

Under Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution, all ocean flora and fauna originally belong to the Nation as part of its ownership rights over all territorial seas and ocean resources.

Ecology Law

All of the criteria and policies relating to protection and management of forest fauna under the Ecology Law also apply to ocean fisheries as well. Aquatic flora and fauna, defined together, include all biological species or biogenetic elements that live temporarily, partially or permanently in national waters or territorial seas over which the nation exercises its right of sovereignty and jurisdiction. Criteria for the general management and protection of forest fauna is set out in paragraphs VI, VII and VIII of Article 80 of the Ecology Law. Furthermore, the General Wildlife Law governs all at-risk land or water species, as well as protection refuges for aquatic species.

Fisheries Law and its Regulation

The Fisheries Law (Ley de Pesca) and the Regulation to the Fisheries Law (Reglamento de la Ley de Pesca) also establish specific provisions governing the conservation, preservation, rational exploitation and management of all aquatic flora and fauna regarded as fisheries resources. With the changes to the Organic Law of Federal Public Administration (Ley Orgánica de la Administración Pública Federal), fisheries previously under the Environment Secretariat fell under the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (SAGARPA)). On 5 June 2001, the National Aquaculture and Fisheries Commission (Comisión Nacional de Acuacultura y Pesca (CONAPESCA)) was created by presidential decree, as an autonomous agency under SAGARPA. Among other duties, CONAPESCA is responsible for establishing conservation methods and measures to preserve or repopulate fisheries resources, including fisheries bans and reserves. The law provides that these tasks are to be carried out in conjunction with SEMARNAT. The Commission is also responsible for establishing the volumes of permissible capture; the types of fishing instruments to be utilized; as well as the seasons and minimum size and weight of fish that may be caught.

The Fisheries Law also provides that SEMARNAT may dictate the necessary measures for protecting turtles, marine mammals, aquatic species that are endangered and subject to special protection, as well as set the respective bans for protecting such species.

Concessions, Permits and Authorizations

Fisheries resources are managed and controlled by concessions, permits and authorizations. All concessions, permits and authorizations must be registered in the National Fisheries Registry (Registro Nacional de Pesca), other than sport fishing permits. Concessions and permits are granted according to technical and economic studies taking into account conservation needs and the public interest. Concessions, which provide for the use, exploitation, and development of the national waters or territorial seas, are granted for a minimum of five years and a maximum of twenty years. Cultivative fisheries concessions can be granted for fifty years.

Under Article 34 of the Fisheries Regulations, concession holders must, among other things:

  1. Extract, capture and cultivate authorized species exclusively in zones determined by CONAPESCA;
  2. Present annually to CONAPESCA, the status of the technical and economic projects associated with the concession, including a program and schedule of the volumes of fish to be caught and a final report on the amount of fish captured;
  3. Execute fishing activities with authorized and registered equipment and methods;
  4. Comply with the technical and economic conditions for the exploitation of each specie, group of species or zones established in the concession;
  5. Assist the federal government in the preservation of the aquatic environment and the conservation and reproduction of species, including development of programs for repopulating in natural settings;
  6. Allow observers, investigators, and scientific and technical experts authorized by CONAPESCA to board all vessels and facilities associated with the fisheries activities;

Permits

In addition to obtaining a concession, most fisheries activities will require a specific permit. Permits to fish are granted for four years. Permit holders must comply with the same general duties as concession holders with the exception of making status reports related to technical and economic projects

Authorizations

Authorizations are special permits for particular fisheries activities and may only be granted to Mexican nationals. The following activities require authorization:

  1. Fishing on the high seas or in waters of foreign jurisdiction by boats under the Mexican Flag;
  2. Installing fixed equipment for fish capture in waters under federal jurisdiction;
  3. Collecting all reproductive species, larva, post larva, young, eggs, seeds or fingerlings for the purpose of aquaculture or research;
  4. Introducing live species in waters under federal jurisdiction; and
  5. Educational fishing to determine the teaching programs at the country's fishing education institutions.

Fisheries Reserves and Refuge Zones

In addition to controlling the fisheries activities according to quantity, type, and method through the concessions, permits and authorizations programs, CONAPESCA may also establish special fisheries reserves and refuge zones and fishing bans to protect threatened or endangered species. Fisheries reserves or bans can be established according to species or zone and can be temporary or permanent. Fishing activities are prohibited in fisheries reserves except in the volumes and according to methods established by CONAPESCA. The Fisheries Law also prohibits the capture of turtles, marine mammals or endangered species without authorization from SEMARNAT.

Sanctions Under the Fisheries Law

The Fisheries Law establishes five types of general administrative sanctions for violations, which include:

  1. Temporary suspension or revocation of the concession, permit, or authorization;
  2. Appropriation of the fishing products or equipment;
  3. Imposition of fines;
  4. Temporary, permanent, partial or complete closure of fisheries facilities or vessels; and
  5. Warnings.

Fines will be assessed depending upon the type and severity of the violation and can range from 20 to 20,000 times the minimum wage of the Federal District (Distrito Federal). Recurring fines can incur twice the original fines. Fines and sanctions may be appealed through the appeals procedures set forth in the Fisheries Law. Final resolution of the appeals can be reviewed through an amparo action.

Permits

In addition to obtaining a concession, most fisheries activities will require a specific permit. Permits to fish are granted for four years. Permit holders must comply with the same general duties as concession holders with the exception of making status reports related to technical and economic projects

Authorizations

Authorizations are special permits for particular fisheries activities and may only be granted to Mexican nationals. The following activities require authorization:

  1. Fishing on the high seas or in waters of foreign jurisdiction by boats under the Mexican Flag;
  2. Installing fixed equipment for fish capture in waters under federal jurisdiction;
  3. Collecting all reproductive species, larva, post larva, young, eggs, seeds or fingerlings for the purpose of aquaculture or research;
  4. Introducing live species in waters under federal jurisdiction; and
  5. Educational fishing to determine the teaching programs at the country's fishing education institutions.

Fisheries Reserves and Refuge Zones

In addition to controlling the fisheries activities according to quantity, type, and method through the concessions, permits and authorizations programs, CONAPESCA may also establish special fisheries reserves and refuge zones and fishing bans to protect threatened or endangered species. Fisheries reserves or bans can be established according to species or zone and can be temporary or permanent. Fishing activities are prohibited in fisheries reserves except in the volumes and according to methods established by CONAPESCA. The Fisheries Law also prohibits the capture of turtles, marine mammals or endangered species without authorization from SEMARNAT.

Sanctions Under the Fisheries Law

The Fisheries Law establishes five types of general administrative sanctions for violations, which include:

  1. Temporary suspension or revocation of the concession, permit, or authorization;
  2. Appropriation of the fishing products or equipment;
  3. Imposition of fines;
  4. Temporary, permanent, partial or complete closure of fisheries facilities or vessels; and
  5. Warnings.

Fines will be assessed depending upon the type and severity of the violation and can range from 20 to 20,000 times the minimum wage of the Federal District (Distrito Federal). Recurring fines can incur twice the original fines. Fines and sanctions may be appealed through the appeals procedures set forth in the Fisheries Law. Final resolution of the appeals can be reviewed through an amparo action.

Top of page Top of page


17.4 Protection of Habitats and Ecosystems

 

Compare the topic 17.4 of Mexico with the one of Canada  You are currently analyzing mexican documentation  Compare the topic 17.4 of Mexico with the one of United-States



Under CITES, Mexico is charged with maintaining species "at a level consistent with its role in the ecosystem." The laws that govern habitats are the Ecology Law with regard to the ecological zoning of the territory, environmental impact, Protected Nature Areas, restoration zones, air conservation and protection, water, aquatic ecosystems and soil. The Regulation under the Ecology Law on Protected Nature Areas contains specific provisions for the conservation of ecologically important habitats. The General Wildlife Law refers to critical habitats for wildlife conservation and refuge areas to protect aquatic species, while the Forestry Law (Ley Forestal) governs forest ecosystems. Lastly, the Fisheries Law refers to reserves and refuge zones.

Economic Crimes Under the Federal Penal Code

Article 254 of the Federal Penal Code (Código Penal Federal) establishes that destruction of natural resources is a crime against the Mexican economy particularly relevant to habitat management and protection. Any actions or omissions that result on the improper destruction of raw materials, agricultural or industrial products or means of production are subject to three to ten years of prison and fines up to the equivalent of 200 to 1000 days of the minimum wage.

Environmental Crimes

In accordance with Article 414 of the Federal Penal Code, one to nine years of prison and fines from 300 to 3,000 days of minimum wage will be imposed on those who, without applying the prevention or safety measures, damages or order someone to realize activities that damages biodiversity or ecosystems. The same sanction is to be applied to those who trade with animal or vegetal species that are or have been infected with a contagious disease that may spread to flora and fauna and/or affects public health. Article 420 of the Federal Penal Code establishes the sanctions to be applied to those who illegally capture, hurt, threaten or kill marine turtles or mammals or who collect or deal in their byproducts. In general, the penalties apply to anyone who acts against banned marine species or uses prohibited fishing methods, or otherwise threatens marine species or deals in endemic or endangered species.

Top of page Top of page






 
2003