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February 08, 2011

Photographic Exhibit: “Successes of Mexican Conservation”

Please join the Natural Resources, Environmental Protection and Fishing Commission of the Mexican Senate for the opening of the photographic exhibit titled “Successes of Mexican Conservation.”
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Please join the Natural Resources, Environmental Protection and Fishing Commission of the Mexican Senate for the opening of the photographic exhibit titled “Successes of Mexican Conservation.”

Cabo Pulmo is One The Most Successful Examples of Conservation in Mexico. 

WHAT:          Photographic Exhibition: “Successes of Mexican Conservation”

WHEN:          Monday  February 14, 2011 at 10 AM

WHERE:        Senate Building, Xicontencatl 9, in Downtown Mexico City

Please join the Natural Resources, Environmental Protection and Fishing Commission of the Mexican Senate for the opening of the photographic exhibit titled “Successes of Conservation.”  The exhibit will highlight Cabo Pulmo as one of the most successful examples of conservation in Mexico.

The Cabo Pulmo National Park, home to the only coral reef in the Gulf of California, is under threat from a proposed large resort to be built adjacent to the reef.

The reef, estimated to be 20,000 years old, making it one of the oldest on the Pacific coast of the Americas, is home to 226 of the 875 fish species that inhabit that body of water, which separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland. 

It is common to see sea turtles, dolphins, sea lions, whales, tiger and bull sharks, in that area --near the tip of the Baja Peninsula, which is also part of the migratory route used by humpback and blue whales. 

In 1995, Cabo Pulmo was declared a natural protected area and today it is a 7,111-hectare (17,560-acre) natural marine park, 99 percent of which is ocean. 

A small community of 80 inhabitants lives on the coast of Cabo Pulmo – located about an hour’s drive from the local tourism hub of Los Cabos – and helps protect this natural heritage site while also offering tourist services such as snorkeling, diving, site seeing boat rides, and sport fishing outside of the park. 

However, Mexican environmental authorities have given a green light to Spanish company Hansa Urbana’s plans to build a huge tourism complex on a 4,000-hectare (9,875-acre) tract adjacent to the natural marine park. 

The future Cabo Cortes will include hotels, houses, condominiums, marinas, golf courses, shopping centers, an airport for private aircraft, among other facilities. About 40,000 people will move in, literally, on top of the reef, which is very close to shore. 

The director of the Cabo Pulmo National Park, Javier Alejandro Gonzalez, told the media in interviews he gave that the staff at the National Commission of National Protected Areas thought that Cabo Cortes’ environmental-impact statement “was vague in several points” and contained figures that “had not been validated.” 

He said CONANP fears that the start of construction work on the marinas, 490 slips, will lead to “significant sediment suspension” in the water, while future boat traffic and larger amounts of visitors to the Cabo Pulmo area will exert “greater pressure” on the reef.

In the judgment of scientists like Dr. Octavio Aburto, of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra, the fragile reef will not survive the impacts for more than a year or two. 

Also a group of environmental organizations, which has formed a coalition to protect the reef and bring a halt to development, warns of dire consequences if the resort project is not halted.

The coalition called Cabopulmovivo is made up of COSTASALVAjE, Niparaja, Pro Natura Noroeste, Comunidad y Diversidad, Amigos de Cabo Pulmo, scholars with the Scripps center for ocean and earth science research, and the Autonomous University of Baja California Sur, between others. 

One of the coalition’s members, Scripps oceanographer Dr. Octavio Aburto, explains that coral reefs like Cabo Pulmo are essential ecosystems that helps repopulate fish communities “they help increase fish production, the basis of many economies in the Gulf of California,” he asserted. 

For her part, Fay Crevoshay, director of communications for COSTASALVAjE, said that “it’s crazy for Mexican authorities to create a national park, preserve it, make it into a great success and then “give a developer permission to destroy it.”

Enrique Castro, whose family has lived for five generations in the small community, says, "fifteen years ago we stopped fishing and started taking care of the reef. Today we offer tourist services such as diving, snorkeling, boat rides, sport fishing [outside of the park], and lodging. And now they are going to kill the reef and what about us? Tourists will not come to see a dead reef."

Summer Good News

It was with great enthusiasm that we learned about the decision of August 30th, when the Environment Ministry (SEMARNAT) ruled that the environmental permit it had previously granted for Cabo Cortes was no longer valid, and that it would decide again on granting this permit or not. 

We continue to believe, that the Cabo Cortes Project is unsustainable and poses a serious threat to the Cabo Pulmo National Park. Our objective will only be met when the project’s permits are cancelled definitely or when they are denied. 

 

ASK SEMARNAT NOT TO ALLOW THE MEGA-DEVELOPMENT AND SAVE THE REEF!

Go to WiLDCOAST or Cabo Pulmo Vivo to sign a petition, make a contribution.

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At the exhibit, the Mexican wrestler and WiLDCOAST spokesperson El Hijo del Santo will be present to voice his support on environmental conservation in Mexico.

To view official Press Release please click here.