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March 27, 2012

Blue on Tour in Mexico

Recap of the Blue on Tour in Mexico
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Kids, Adults, Town Authorities, and Even Federal Senators Learned Why Coral Reefs and Mangroves are Non-Negotiable…and how to Help with Conservation Efforts

March was a big month for travel, for WiLDCOAST staff. The Blue Ocean Film Festival has given us the opportunity to touch base with very important constituencies at the front lines of conservation of biologically important ecosystems and beautiful landscapes. 

In Barra de Potosi, Guerrero, Mexico - home to some of Mexico's best seafood, a mangrove lagoon, and authentic fishing culture - Serge Dedina, Executive Director of WiLDCOAST, witnessed a village fighting to save the 1,200 acre mangrove lagoon and nesting beaches for endangered leatherback sea turtles, threatened by a proposal by Mexico’s National Fund for Tourism (FONATUR), that has plans to construct a cruise ship terminal on top of the lagoon and the 900-person pueblito. “The Blue on Tour is a way to support the village’s effort”, said Serge.

Blue on Tour also made stops in Ixtapa and Saladita, Guerrero.  Sergio Flores and Natalia Parra, the WiLDCOAST Southern Mexico Coordinators, know this coast well. They have spent the last seven years working to preserve sea turtle nesting beaches and to reduce the illegal trade of turtle meat and eggs”.

The WiLDCOAST team also traveled to Oaxaca, where about 500 people enjoyed the Blue Film Festival in Huetulco, Barra de La Cruz, and Puerto Escondido.

“The movies are great instruments for raising environmental awareness and for coordinating outreach that results in actions that change the reality on the ground”, said Sofía Gomez, coordinator of Community outreach of WiLDCOAST in Baja California that organized the Blue Film Festival in la Reserva de la Biósfera del Vizcaíno: in Bahía Asunción, La Bocana, and Punta Abreojos.

With expression of “Oh” and “pobrecitos (poor things),” the crowds were ready to defend sea turtles and the other ocean inhabitants!

In Mexico City, the Blue Ocean Film Festival at the Federal Senate was also a great success. After the Senators, a panel of ocean advocates explained with enthusiasm their conservation successes and the threats to their communities and environment.

Mario Castro, with tears in his eyes, explained how and why National Geographic and other scientific institutions consider Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park “The best marine reserve on the planet.” Castro asked for the support of senators and the public, so his community can continue protecting and restoring the reef at Cabo Pulmo.

Araceli Oregón, Ejido Leader and 4th generation conservationist in her community, explained with a map in hand how a wetland concessions for Fonatur will destroy 1125 acres of mangroves, which are considered the lungs of the “Costa Grande” region in Guerrero.

Fay Crevoshay, Director of Communications from WiLDCOAST stated that 22,000 acres of mangroves are destroyed in Mexico each year, despite laws that protect the species. She asked senators to uphold the existing law and make fines more stringent because mangroves are fish nurseries. “2.5 acres of mangroves annually produce approximately 1 million fish of commercial species, such as red snapper and pargo, popular in restaurants,” she explained.

WiLDCOAST wants to thank Debbie Kinder, Blue Ocean Film Festival Director, for her support , as well as everyone that made the Blue Film Festival Mexico Tour possible.