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Developers Resubmit Controversial Plan for Massive Mexican Resort Near Endangered Reef

Associated Press
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August 28, 2012
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MEXICO CITY - Developers have resurrected plans for a massive beach resort near a sensitive coral reef in Mexico's Gulf of California, just two months after authorities rejected a similar plan amid protests by environmental groups.

The Environment Department confirmed Monday that a proposed environmental impact statement had been submitted for the project, now known as Los Pericues.

The proposal includes plans for a marina for 300 boats, two golf courses and the equivalent of 23,400 hotel rooms on the Baja California shoreline near the protected Cabo Pulmo reef, the only one in the Gulf of California.

Experts call the formerly over-fished area a model for environmental recovery.

Authorities rejected a proposal for the equivalent of about 30,000 hotel rooms in a project dubbed "Cabo Cortes" in the same area in June. Both proposals cover an area of about 9,400-acres (3,800 hectares).

The Mexican Center for Environmental Law said Monday developers submitted the proposal last week. The centre said sediment, waste discharges, salt from a desalinization plant and the marina would threaten the reef.

The proposal claims the project would be built 200 metres (yards) inland from the first line of sand dunes, minimizing the impact on the ocean environment, and some of the land would be left in its current state.

The area is near the Baja California resort of Los Cabos. No telephone number for the developers was listed in the local telephone directory.

When President Felipe Calderon announced the cancellation of the first project in June, he said it lacked a number of detailed studies. Calderon said developers should consult with local residents and environmental experts to come up with a more scientifically sound plan.

Seventeen years ago, Cabo Pulmo's shallow reef was, like many in Mexico, was degraded by commercial fishing boats, which often dragged their anchors or nets through the coral, to get at valuable species that lived there.

In 1995, with support from a local university, the government declared the reef a protected area and later upgraded it to marine park status.

The effort was aided by local residents, who largely transformed their economy from fishing to ecotourism, and the amount of life on the reef blossomed. A study by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California found that the biomass at the Cabo Pulmo reef — the total weight of living species — rose by 460 per cent.

The reef is now so healthy that fish migrate from it to neighbouring areas, helping fishermen there.

  Check out Deep Blue Conservancy

  Check out Ecological Group of Costa Verde

  Check out Fideicomiso Estero el Salado

  Check out Mundo Ceiba Vallarta

  Check out The Western Ecological Society


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