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Defending the Gulf of California from "Mega Resorts"

Case Overview

In a petition submitted to the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Earthjustice and the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), representing local and international environmental organizations, have charged the Mexican government with failing to enforce its own environmental laws in authorizing the construction of four “mega resorts” in the Gulf of California. The Commission is an international body established under the North American Free Trade Agreement to promote cooperation among Canada, Mexico and the U.S. on environmental issues of continental concern.

Whale shark and diver.  (Carlos Aguilera)
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The approval of projects such as Cabo Cortés, Paraíso del Mar, Entre Mares, and Playa Espíritu threatens the unique coral reefs and mangrove ecosystems of the region, and endangered species such as humpback and gray whales, whale sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, sea lions, jaguars, crocodiles and many species of migratory birds.

The petition highlights the four projects as examples of the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources’ repeated failure to enforce environmental laws when approving large-scale tourist development projects in the Gulf of California. In particular, the government ignores laws requiring effective environmental impact assessment, protection of endangered species, and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The petitioners are requesting that the Commission investigate and develop a factual record to examine Mexico’s lack of enforcement of its environmental laws when authorizing these developments. Such a finding would pressure Mexico to comply with its own environmental safeguards.

Aerial view of Cabo Pulmo.  (Sidartha Velázquez)
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Known as the “World’s Aquarium,” the Gulf of California is considered one of the most diverse marine regions on the planet, and is home to thousands of species.

Earthjustice and the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) are filing the petition on behalf of the Ecological Network for Escuinapa Development (REDES), Friends for the Conservation of Cabo Pulmo (ACCP), WiLDCOAST, SUMAR, Los Cabos Coastkeepers, Alliance for the Sustainability of the Mexican Coastal Northwest (ALCOSTA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Greenpeace México and AIDA. The petitioners are calling on Mexico to protect the marine and coastal ecosystems of the Gulf of California, particularly coral reefs like the ones in Cabo Pulmo.

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Case Updates

April 20, 2013 | Blog Post

Mexico Should Heed Lush Lesson of Costa Rica

This month, I had the very good fortune to visit Costa Rica, home to some of greatest biodiversity in the world. In this tiny nation, plants and animals from temperate North America and from tropical South America mingle in habitats at different altitudes (including active volcanoes and rain forests at the beach)! I marveled at hundreds of leaping dolphins, huge rain forest trees with rich canopy life, miraculous birds, sloths and anteaters.

April 18, 2013 | In the News: Scoop San Diego

CA Groups Challenge Mexico’s “Mega Resorts”

Earthjustice and AIDA, representing local and international environmental organizations, are challenging Mexico’s approval of four massive developments in the Gulf of California. The Mexican government approved the projects without conducting appropriate assessments of how they would impact the ecosystem, which has an extremely high level of biodiversity. In doing so, it ignored its own laws.