Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Organizations Defend Veracruz Reef System Against Proposed Port Expansion

Organizations Defend Veracruz Reef System Against Proposed Port Expansion

Six global organizations have submitted an amicus curiae brief to a Mexican court containing legal and technical arguments that strengthen the existing lawsuit against a government decree to reduce the boundaries of the Veracruz Reef System National Park, according to a press release from the groups.

Boundary modifications of the reef system, which measures in at 52,238 total hectares, were proposed in order to expand the Port of Veracruz. But the groups point out that amending the boundaries devalues the National Park, and puts conservation of this internationally important wetland at stake.

"Coral reefs are natural barriers against large waves and storms like Hurricane Karl, which hit Veracruz in 1992," said Sandra Moguel, a legal advisor to the Interamerican Association of Environmental Defense. "Reefs also provide abundant fishing and valuable information for medical research. They're great spots for recreation and they help to sustain marine life."

The Veracruz Reef System in eastern Mexico was declared a natural protected area in 1992 to safeguard the diversity of species that inhabit the waters and to encourage sustainability research into the ecosystem's balance. In 2004, the Veracruz Reef System was included as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention—an international treaty to protect wetlands. Species including fish, clams, snails, starfish and sea urchins call the reef system home as well as crustaceans, such as shrimp and lobsters.

The reef has long been thought to be among the highest at risk reefs in the wider Caribbean area, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as substantial freshwater runoff from agriculture and industry containing high nutrient levels flow from major river systems and drain into the area. 

The legal brief argues that the decree—issued from Mexico's National Commission on Protected Areas (CONANP)—threatens regional biodiversity, violates the human right to a healthy environment, and breaches the country's international obligations. 

The brief also explains how CONANP's decree infringes specific national laws and international treaties. For example, the press release states, the Organization of American States' Convention on Nature Protection and Wild Life Preservation in the Western Hemisphere states that natural park limits can only be modified by legislative authorities, which CONANP is not.

"The local population is more exposed to suffer the impacts of hurricanes and other climate phenomena, because the decree removes the Punta Gorda and Bahía de Vergara reefs from the national park," said Xavier Martínez Esponda, regional director of the Mexican Center for Environmental Law for the Gulf of Mexico.

The brief concludes by making it clear that CONANP's decree is a giant step backward in marine conservation that erases the benefits of environmental protection. 

"Setbacks like this can cause irreparable damage," conculded Moguel.

The organizations involved in litigation are: Interamerican Association of Environmental Defense (AIDA), the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA), the Strategic Human Rights Litigation Center (Litiga OLE), Pathways and Encounters for Sustainable Development (SENDAS), Pobladores A.C. and the Veracruz Assembly of Environmental Initiatives and Defense (LAVIDA).

--------

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Historic Moment in Marine Conservation: New Caledonia Creates World's Largest Protected Area

Seabed Survey Shows Deep, Remote Ocean Waters Littered With Human Trash

Big Oil Eyes Florida's Public Lands, Plans to Drill in the Everglades  

--------

A sea turtle rescued from Israel's devastating oil spill. MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP via Getty Images

Rescue workers in Israel are using a surprising cure to save the sea turtles harmed by a devastating oil spill: mayonnaise!

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A "digital twin of Earth." European Space Agency

As the weather grows more severe, and its damages more expensive and fatal, current weather predictions fall short in providing reliable information on Earth's rapidly changing systems.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Melting ice in places such as Greenland could stop a critical ocean current. Paul Souders / Getty Images

The climate crisis could push an important ocean current past a critical tipping point sooner than expected, new research suggests.

Read More Show Less
California Gov. Gavin Newsom tours the Chevron oil field west of Bakersfield, where a spill of more than 900,000 gallons flowed into a dry creek bed, on July 24, 2019. Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

Accusing California regulators of "reckless disregard" for public "health and safety," the environmental advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday sued the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom for approving thousands of oil and gas drilling and fracking projects without the required environmental review.

Read More Show Less
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Kenyan professor Wangari Maathai poses during the COP15 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark on December 15, 2009. Olivier Morin / AFP / Getty Images

By Kate Whiting

From Greta Thunberg to Sir David Attenborough, the headline-grabbing climate change activists and environmentalists of today are predominantly white. But like many areas of society, those whose voices are heard most often are not necessarily representative of the whole.

Read More Show Less