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Saturday, June 17, 2012

Calderón cancels Baja California Sur hotel development that likely would have damaged Cabo Pulmo national marine park

Last month, at UCSD's Mexico Moving Forward conference, researcher spoke of the environmental harm the project could do

President Felipe Calderón on Friday canceled a Baja California Sur development called Cabo Cortés, saying it could be revived only if it could be proven that it would cause no environmental damage.

Next week, Calderón will host a summit of G-20 nations in Baja California Sur.

Environmentalists and many in or near the Cabo Pulmo National Park area were pleased by Calderón's action. Pulmo means lung.

Last month, at the Mexico Moving Forward conference held by the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California San Diego, conservationist and UC Mexus director Exequiel Ezcurra said many Mexicans and others were involved in "the fight for Cabo Pulmo."

exequiel ezcurraHe said, "Cabo Pulmo is a wonderful community ... where the fishermen in that community evolved from being pearl fishers in the 1930s until all the pearls disappeared, then started fishing from the 1930s to the 1960s until all the fish were gone, and then in the 1970s they started to worry about what to do and some of them learned to dive with scuba gear and started taking people to their sea and they realized that if they protected their environment, they could make more money than if they kept on degrading the environment. So in the late 1980s and early 1990s they worked with Luis Donaldo Colosio ... to make their area a marine park, a national park.... It's been the most successful (marine) park in the world. We have no records of any other marine park recovering so much as this park. You go now to Cabo Pulmo and it's the best place for fish observation, for marine life observation in the world."


View Larger Map Ezcurra said the now-rejected project would have damaged adjacent Cabo Pulmo: "There's no way you can preserve that richness with 30,000 hotel rooms." He said, "The whole of Baja California Sur has 15,000 hotel rooms, so on the one side they want to build a whole city, 30,000 hotel rooms, a city of over 150,000 people just to provide services.... Of course the local community is opposed. They see it as something that would rip the social fabric."

He said he was surprised to find out during his opposition to the project that many in government just could not understand why communities would oppose the progress and jobs the project would bring.

 

Story, Frontera (PDF). Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Amanda Maxwell blog from Natural Resources Defense Council.
Study by Scripps Institution of Oceanography and others, including Ezcurra, on the marine recovery at the park.