Mérida is located in the northwest part of the state of Yucatán, which occupies the northern portion of the Yucatán Peninsula. To the east is the state of Quintana Roo, to the west is the state of Campeche, to the north is the Gulf of Mexico, and far to the south is the state of Chiapas. The city is also located in the Chicxulub Crater. It has a very flat topography and is only 30 feet (9 m) above sea level. The land outside of Mérida is covered with smaller scrub trees and former henequen fields. Almost no surface water exists, but several cenotes (underground springs and rivers) are found across the state. Mérida has a centro histórico typical of colonial Spanish cities. The street grid is based on odd-numbered streets running east/west and even-numbered streets running north/south, with Calles 60 and 61 bounding the “Plaza Grande” in the heart of the city. The more affluent neighborhoods are located to the north and the most densely populated areas are to the south. The Centro Histórico area is becoming increasingly popular with American and other expats who are rescuing and restoring the classic colonial structures.
The History of Merida
There were three Spanish conquistadors named “Francisco de Montejo“: Francisco de Montejo “el Adelantado” (“The Lieutenant”, the eldest); Francisco de Montejo y León “el Mozo” (“The Boy”, his son); and Francisco de Montejo “el Sobrino” (“The Nephew”). Mérida was founded in 1542 by Montejo y León (“el Mozo”) and named after the town of Mérida in Extremadura, Spain. It was built on the site of the Maya city of T’hó (/d̥ʼχøʼ/), which was also called Ichkanzihóo or Ichcaanzihó (/isʃkan’siχœ/; “City of Five Hills”) in reference to its pyramids. T’ho had been a center of Mayan culture and activity for centuries: because of this, some historians[who?] consider Mérida the oldest continually-occupied city in the Americas.
Carved Maya stones from ancient T’ho were widely used to build the Spanish colonial buildings that are plentiful in downtown Mérida, and are visible, for instance, in the walls of the main cathedral. Much of Mérida’s architecture from the colonial period through the 18th century and 19th century is still standing in the centro historico of the city. From colonial times through the mid-19th century, Mérida was a walled city intended to protect the Peninsular and Criollo residents from periodic revolts by the indigenous Maya. Several of the old Spanish city gates survive, but modern Mérida has expanded well beyond the old city walls.
Late in the 19th century and the early 20th Century, the area surrounding Mérida prospered from the production of henequén. For a brief period, around the turn of the 20th century, Mérida was said to house more millionaires than any other city in the world. The result of this concentration of wealth can still be seen today. Many large and elaborate homes still line the main avenue called Paseo de Montejo, though few are occupied today by individual families. Many of these homes have been restored and now serve as office buildings for banks and insurance companies. Korean immigration to Mexico began in 1905 when more than a thousand people arrived in Yucatan from the city of Incheon. These first Korean migrants settled around Merida as workers in henequen plantations.
Mérida has one of the largest centro histórico districts in the Americas (surpassed only by Mexico City and Havana, Cuba). Colonial homes line the city streets to this day, in various states of disrepair and renovation; the historical center of Mérida is currently undergoing a minor renaissance as more and more people are moving into the old buildings and reviving their former glory.
In August 1993, Pope John Paul II visited the city on his third trip to Mexico. The city has been host to two bilateral United States – Mexico conferences, the first in 1999 (Bill Clinton – Ernesto Zedillo) and the second in 2007 (George W. Bush – Felipe Calderón).
GCFI 2017 – Merida, Mexico
ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
The 70th Annual conference of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute will be held in Merida, Mexico, from 6-10 November 2017 at The Hyatt Regency Merida Hotel. The meeting is being hosted by the CINVESTAV, Unidad Merida; Instituto Technologico de Merida y Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan.
The conference will focus on applying fisheries and marine science to solve problems by bringing multiple users of ocean resources together to make informed and coordinated decisions for sustainable use of these resources. Addressing the issues of connectivity, fisheries management, conservation, and related issues at GCFI will aid in addressing critical marine resource issues within the Wider Caribbean Region.
CONFERENCE THEMATIC SESSION
The theme of the Conference is “TOWARDS THE SUSTAINABILITY OF TROPICAL FISHERIES STRATEGIES, MODELS AND TOOLS”. The initiative is based on the interest of the membership of the GCFI to call attention to users on the importance of sustainable oceans through the implementation of sustainable fisheries and marine resource management. We recognize that new sustainability-oriented projects are needed in order to reset ecological balances, to change consumption and production patterns, to promote ecological efficiency, and to restore social equity conditions. The conference will emphasize the stakeholder processes to identify fisheries management strategies that put fisheries on the path to sustainability. In particular, we encourage presentations that guides the user in identifying the appropriate monitoring, assessment and management options for a specific fishery, given its socio-economic and governance context, goals and needs.
GCFI is pleased to announce that the opening address will be presented by Dr. Brian Luckhurst. Dr. Luckhurst retired several years ago after 27 years as the Senior Fisheries Officer, Department of Environmental Protection, Bermuda Government. He has worked in the wider Caribbean region since 1970 conducting studies in Barbados, Curacao, Bonaire and Venezuela. He made his first dive on a grouper spawning aggregation in 1973. Most of his work has been with coral reef fishes including studies of the reproduction and age and growth of groupers and snappers, with a focus on the dynamics of reef fish spawning aggregations, management and conservation issues in Bermuda, Belize, Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands and the wider Caribbean.
Dr. Luckhurst monitored the recovery of Bermuda’s coral reef fish stocks (focusing on parrotfish) by diver census for nine years following a fish pot ban in 1990. Other studies have involved the fishery biology of pelagic species such as wahoo, yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna and dolphinfish. He was a partner in an international program to deploy satellite pop-up tags on blue marlin in the western Atlantic over five years. He has also conducted studies on the fishery biology of deep-water fishes (wreckfish, misty grouper). He has published over 75 scientific papers as well as numerous technical reports and marine conservation pamphlets. He is a co-author of a book published in 1999, “Fishes of Bermuda”. He is a long-standing emeritus member of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI), and is a Board member of Science and Conservation of Fish Aggregations (SCRFA). He has been a fisheries and marine resources consultant to The Nature Conservancy, the Caribbean Fishery Resources and Management Program (CFRAMP) and the Caribbean Fisheries Management Council. Since retirement he has been a fisheries consultant to the Bermuda Government and for the past five years he has been working with the Sargasso Sea Commission studying the pelagic ecosystem of the Sargasso Sea with a focus on tunas, swordfish and sharks.