Destruction at all co(a)sts: World's Aquarium threaten by coastal tourism developments

Greenpeace calls to stop all unsustainable coastal developments in Baja

Press release - 5 December, 2006
This morning, Greenpeace activists have placed banners reading “Destruction at all cost” and three activists have chained themselves to the machinery at the construction site of the Puerto Los Cabos Project, in Baja California Sur. Machinery has been also locked and keys delivered to the Major of Los Cabos along with a demand from Greenpeace and a local NGO, Los Ángeles del Estero (Angels of the Wetland).

A Greenpeace activist chained to heavy machinery talks to a construction worker at the illegal construction site of the 'Puerto Los Cabos' coastal property development in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Damage to the surrounding wetlands from the construction of the planned 800 hectare marina and hotel complex are predicted to heavily impact on the local fishing industry as well as on the marine environment since the San Jose del Cabo wetland is the most important aquifer in the region.

Greenpeace is calling on the Mexican government to immediately stop all illegal tourism developments and implement measures to ensure that all coastal developments are sustainable.

Tourist and coastal developments are threatening marine and coastal ecosystems in the World's Aquarium. The Puerto Los Cabos project is planned to extend over 800 hectares. It will directly affect the San Jose del Cabo wetland, the most important aquifer of the region, to build 2 golf courses, 3 large hotels, 1168 houses, three beach clubs, two theme parks and a marina for 500 boats. Puerto Los Cabos is part of a larger project known as Nautical Staircase which would see the development of large tourism facilities throughout the Gulf of California.

"This is only one example of the type of tourism development planned throughout the Baja California Peninsula," said Alejandro Olivera, of Greenpeace Mexico. "There are more illegal and unsustainable developments such as Puerto Los Cabos affecting the World's Aquarium. We call on the new Mexican President, Felipe Calderón and his administration to stop those developments that pose a threat to the environment, communities, habitats and wildlife."

The local population of Los Cabos suffers fresh water restrictions, due to constant shortages, whilst hotel clients have unlimited water on tap. Discharges, spills, dredging and other damage to wetlands and bays due to the

construction and management of marinas, hotels and urban developments, will impact on the fishing productivity as well as the marine and landscape richness, which are the main tourism attractions and the economic base of the


"Non sustainable development is a direct threat to the marine and coastal environments of Baja California, as it is in other tourist hot spots we have witnessed in this tour, such as the Mediterranean and the Red Sea," says Karli

Thomas, of Greenpeace International. "Tourism that values the area and its wildlife, rather than eliminates it, has the potential to generate sources of employment, improve services and preserve natural resources within the region."

The Gulf of California in Mexico was named the "World's Aquarium" by Jacques Cousteau because of the wealth of marine life. However it is also an example of many of the major threats to our oceans. It is one of the world's most

productive and biologically diverse marine ecosystems (1), but pressure from destructive fishing, pollution and uncontrolled tourism development are threatening life in the Aquarium.

The Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza is currently in the Gulf of California campaigning for the establishment of marine reserves, as part of its 16-month global expedition "Defending Our Oceans" (2). While in Mexico, the MY Esperanza has celebrated one year of its voyage.

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions essential to a green and peaceful future.

Other contacts: Karli Thomas, Greenpeace International, on board the MY Esperanza, on +47 514 079 86Alejandro Olivera, Greenpeace Mexico, on +521 55 29 71 12 17Isabel Leal, Greenpeace International Communications, on board the MY Esperanza, on +47 514 079 86

VVPR info: Pictures available from Franca Michienzi, Greenpeace International Picture Desk, + 31 653 819 255Video available from Greenpeace International Video Desk, +31 646 197 322

Notes: (1) The Gulf of California is a biological treasure; home to more than thirty species of marine mammals including the world’s most endangered porpoise – the vaquita. The region has huge economic benefit for the whole of Mexico, bringingnearly five million tourists and providing half the country’s fish supply. (2) The Defending Our Oceans campaign is a 16-month expedition to highlight the threats to and beauty of the oceans and demand a global network of marine reserves, covering 40% of the world’s oceans. The tour began in Cape Town, South Africa, from where the Esperanza left to defend the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary from the whaling fleets.

Exp. contact date: 2006-12-20 00:00:00