CEC receives response from Mexico on Tourism Development in the Gulf of California submission

Montreal, 5 March 2014—On 12 November 2013, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) Secretariat requested a response to submission SEM-13-001 (Tourism Development in the Gulf of California) (PDF) from the Government of Mexico. On 24 February 2014, the Secretariat received the requested response (PDF). In submission SEM-13-001, a group of organizations, represented by the Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA) and Earthjustice, assert that the development of four large tourist resorts in the Gulf of California are causing significant impacts to the Bay of La Paz, the El Mogote nesting area, the Cabo Pulmo coral reef and the Marismas Nacionales wetland, and that proper environmental impact assessment and permitting procedures were not followed, among other alleged environmental law enforcement failures. The Submitters maintain that the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales—Semarnat) is failing to enforce the Ramsar and World Heritage Conventions as well as provisions of the General Law of Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection (Ley General del Equilibrio Ecológico y la Protección al Ambiente—LGEEPA) and its Regulations on Environmental Impact Assessment (REIA), the General Wildlife Law (Ley General de Vida Silvestre—LGVS) and Official Mexican Standards applicable to wetlands protection and endangered species. In its response, Mexico states that that the Secretariat should not have considered resolutions to the Ramsar Convention because these do not meet the definition of environmental law. Mexico considers that since the environmental impact assessment permit was revoked for the Cabo Cortés project, there are no grounds for developing a factual record concerning it, and that a pending proceeding on the Paraíso del Mar project should partially terminate the process with respect to the submission. Mexico also maintains that, with respect to the CIP Playa Espíritu, Entre Mares, and Paraíso del Mar projects, Semarnat enforced provisions applicable to the preparation of environmental impact statements (manifestaciones de impacto ambiental), which included consideration of best available information, assessment of cumulative and residual impacts, technical opinions from other agencies, protection of mangrove species, and conservation of protected species. In its response, Mexico also considers the applicability of sustainable forestry laws, the Ramsar Convention, the World Heritage Convention, and enforced corrective measures against the Paraíso del Mar project. The Secretariat will now analyze the submission in light of Mexico’s response to determine whether it will notify the Council, pursuant to Article 15(1) of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), that development of a factual is warranted. For further information, please visit the CEC Submissions on Enforcement Matters website and the registry of submission SEM-13-001 (Tourism Development in Baja California)