Cabo Pulmo wins over big development company.
This is an article from Amanda Maxwell's Blog.
We have included the article in full here and also, at the end of the article, a link to the blog.
“Victory” is a word I don’t use lightly or often.
But there are few situations I can think of for which “victory” would be more appropriate than yesterday’s landmark announcement by Mexican President Felipe Calderon to cancel the ill-conceived massive tourism project, Cabo Cortes. The project’s proponents wanted to build the equivalent of a new city next to Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, a reserve of immeasurable importance for Mexico and for the world. Cabo Pulmo contains the only living coral reef in the Sea of Cortés, and for years local, national and international voices have been campaigning to protect the vulnerable marine life there from the threat of Cabo Cortés. Yesterday, just as the Rio+20 Earth Summit got underway, President Calderón demonstrated vision and leadership by cancelling the entire project.
Cabo Pulmo is a conservation success story of local, national, and international significance. In the 1970s-80s, rampant overfishing severely degraded the reef. Local communities recognized that fact, and petitioned the government to make the area a national park, which it did in 1995. In 2005, UNESCO named Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park a World Heritage Site, and in 2008 it became a Ramsar Wetlands Site of International Importance.
Due to these efforts, the coral reef has bounced back beyond belief. A 2011 study from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography found that the biomass of the park increased 463 percent in the decade from 1999 and 2009, and called it “most robust marine reserve in the world.” It is now home to the highest concentration of marine life in the entire Gulf of California, including more than 200 species of reef fish, many of which are found nowhere else in the world, as well as migratory species like whale sharks, Pacific manta rays, humpback whales, and dolphins. Five of the world’s seven endangered species of sea turtle use the reef as a refuge. This incredible recovery is largely due to the efforts of the local communities, who took stewardship of the park and reoriented their economies away from destructive fishing practices and towards ecotourism activities.
photo courtesy of Octavio Aburto / iLCP
However, several years ago, the Spanish real estate developer Hansa Urbana laid out plans for the Cabo Cortés real estate and tourism complex. The company planned to construct 13,000 housing units, 3,655 hotel rooms (together this is equivalent to about 30,000 rooms), some 2 million square feet of office and commercial space as well as a 490-slip marina, a “private” jet port, schools, and at least two golf courses. For all practical purposes the project would have created a brand new city the size of Cancun. If it had been allowed to proceed, the project would have irreversibly damaged the reef ecosystem and wiped out local livelihoods that depend on ecotourism.
photo courtesy of Ralph Lee Hopkins / iLCP
In response to Cabo Cortés threat, local groups organized and took action. Regional and national groups joined the fight, and created a vibrant coalition called Cabo Pulmo Vivo. When Hansa Urbana stepped up its pressure on the government to approve the project, this coalition did not back down. Instead, they reached out to international groups, such as NRDC, to help protect Cabo Pulmo. Together, we made the legal, scientific, environmental, social and financial cases against the project:
- the project’s plans and the environmental permitting process it underwent both broke municipal and national laws;
- the construction and operation of Cabo Cortés would devastate the thriving marine life of the coral reef;
- it would affect the fish populations that local commercial and sport fishermen depend on;
- a resort of that size would require an incredible amount of fresh water that arid Baja California just doesn’t have;
- and it would have been a very risky investment for anyone interested in financing the progect due to all of the above reasons and the shaky financial situations of the developer.
By all accounts and measures, Cabo Cortés was undoubtedly a problematic project that should have been rejected by the government from Day One. Yet its environmental review process, which began in 2008, went on for four years. After some legal back-and-forths between proponents and opponents of Cabo Cortés, major pieces of the overall project received their approvals in January 2011. However, a few crucial parts, such as the water treatment and desalination plants, were conditioned: the company had to provide ample additional information about them within a certain timeframe (most of the 20 conditions allowed for six months). Last week, our Mexican partners made public a memo from the Sectary of Environment and Natural Resources stating that Cabo Cortés was out of compliance with many of those conditions, providing the government with the perfect opportunity to cancel the irresponsible project altogether. President Calderón’s declaration cancelling the project is an acknowledgement of the fact that big business isn’t always the best business.
photo courtesy of Ralph Lee Hopkins / iLCP
Cabo Pulmo truly is a treasure worth preserving, and a model of environmental stewardship and local economic growth worth replicating. After years of effort from many parties, yesterday’s victory –and certainly it is a victory— is remarkable news for the people of Cabo Pulmo and Mexico, and for other countries, too. It is proof that these battles can be won, and that when they are won, they have impacts far beyond the immediate area. Of course, there is still work to do to ensure that new projects similar to Cabo Cortés do not threaten Cabo Pulmo again, as surely they will, and that the region is able to grow economically and sustainably. But now is a time for celebrating – and to say “Gracias” to President Calderón for making the right decision.
To read the blog on Ms. Maxwell's site, click here.
We are truly thankful for all of our visitors and our staff!
The people that visit Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort are some of the coolest, greatest, most fun people on earth! We have made so many new friends this year. We want to thank you for the conversations, the laughter and the stories. You have taught us new ways of thinking and expanded our horizons. You have brought us a piece of your world and it has helped our resort to become a better place for all travelers. We thank you and we hope you visit us again!
Our staff is an international A-Team! We are so fortunate to work with some of the most talented people in the world. They give their heart and soul each and every day. Their passion in what they do is obvious in the way they interact with clients, tourist and one another. We are so proud of and thankful for the staff here at Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort!
We hope you come visit us soon and see for yourself how fantastic Cabo Pulmo, Baja Mexico is!
"This National Marine Park, 90 minutes north of the
International Airport, is indeed a precious aquatic paradise."
After fueling up with a savory breakfast at the Cabo Surf Hotel, photographer Paul Papanek and I jump into his Vanagon and we’re on our way to a southern Baja destination with a distinctive literary connection. Like the beat-era writer, Jack Kerouac, we’re on the road, but we have set our sights on a location that was documented by another literary lion, John Steinbeck, famed Grapes of Wrath author. Steinbeck stopped at Cabo Pulmo during his epic voyage around Baja California and documented his findings in the landmark book, The Log from the Sea of Cortez.
Cabo Pulmo has a certain mystique to those who still appreciate remote areas and access to pristine water and a diverse selection of marine wildlife. Part of that mystique is the fact that the last 16 miles are unpaved, which keeps out those who tend to avoid the possibility of occasional washboarding or a surprise washout along the way. Another part is access to unspoiled natural resources and one of only three living coral reefs in North America.
Taking Mexico 1 toward the East Cape, we come into Miraflores surprisingly quickly, followed by Santiago and its charming home grown zoo. But we’re looking for a different kind of wildlife, and press on into La Ribera and the junction with the road to Cabo Pulmo. Not sure of the turn, Paul and I stop alongside a group of men who are sitting out the heat in their front yard. “Cabo Pulmo?” Paul asks, and we get waved on, connecting to the road and its 16-mile long dirt terminus.
We’re in the final stretch. We’re lucky enough to have an invitation from our friend out at the Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort, Cole Barrymore, whose father, ski movie pioneer Dick Barrymore, discovered the area in 1970 and decided to settle in. Building up the small resort literally by hand, the Barrymores created a small community of palapa-styled casitas that they furnished with their own hand made furniture and cabinetry. Cole settled in permanently in 1993, married a local girl, Maribel, and decided to make Cabo Pulmo his base of operations.
Cabo Pulmo’s offshore resources were designated a National Marine Park in 1995, meaning that things are pretty much the same as they have always been there, and the reef-building corals have produced the only living reef on the western shores of North America, a structure that fans out in eight distinct fingers just off the beach. It’s a refuge for an awe-inspiring collection of wildlife ranging from brightly-colored fish, turtles, moray eels, pelagic gamefish like tuna and marlin, and, if you’re lucky, schooling manta rays or the occasional whale shark. Another dive spot is the nearby wreck of the El Vencedor, a tuna boat that sank in1981, now a well-populated artificial reef. The area has become a Mecca for divers and water enthusiasts who want to spend time in a place that Jacques Cousteau has described as “the aquarium of the world.”
Once the area became a National Marine Park it attracted a lot of attention from enthusiasts who wanted to experience the reef and its natural aquarium environment. With the increasing interest, Cole decided to put up a website and offer tours of the area, and a friend, a buddy by the name of John Friday, suggested that they start a diving program. The rest is local history.
We pull up in front of the Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort, where a group of divers are cleaning up their gear, regaling each other with dive stories. One group is speaking French, Henri, a dive guide, is from Holland, several other divers are from England. It’s a diverse, multinational group, sitting around in the mid-morning heat, drinking cold cervezas, clearly enthused about what they’d seen offshore.
“It all started with ten tanks,” Cole says over a plate of fresh fish tacos on the terrace outside the resort’s Coral Reef restaurant. “Today we’re one of the most popular and professionally equipped dive facilities in Baja. We get them coming here from all over the world. That’s because of the numbers of fish and marine mammals that can be seen in the area. We have 60 to 70 feet of visibility here all the time, and it’s not unusual to see the bottom from the boat. Water temperatures are consistently 85 degrees until the end of October. It’s just a comfortable way to see an awful lot of wildlife in the water we have here.”
Time to gear up. Paul loads his Nikon into the protective waterproof housing, and we get fitted for fins, masks and snorkels. We head out to the beach, get in the panga, and then get launched by a pickup with a padded push bar.
As we approach the entry spot, Henri, our dive instructor, gives us some basic guidelines, and the scuba team is ready to hit the water. Paul and I are snorkeling, so we’ll hit the water after they’re in and follow the bubbles.
The first impression of the water at Cabo Pulmo is its transparency. Not only in the visual sense, but also because of its temperature. It’s almost as warm as the human body, close enough that you don’t really feel it. You just feel suspended in a neutral, liquid environment, and then you start to look around. Suddenly a group of brightly colored fish with bright yellow fins and tails, a school of gafftopsail pompano, appear next to us, then move away slowly, oblivious to our presence. They’ve seen this many times before.
Down below the divers are trailing bubbles, which come up like pulsating blobs of mercury, as they head for the fingers of the reef. I can hear the amplified click of the Nikon in the water. There are fish everywhere it seems, some stratified at a certain depth, suspended in their part of the park, while groups of schooling fish come and go at other levels of the aquatic playground.
Down below the divers are exploring the crevices and the coral reef close up. Here are the breeding grounds of the nurse shark, a group of moray eels, large triggerfish, schooling jacks, and an uncountable number of other fish, some curious, some quickly on their way to another part of the reef. A group of small, iridescent fish envelops one of the divers, leaving a perfect cavity in their midst as they move around him, and then they’re gone. It’s a small but miraculous moment of the kind that seems to happen here all the time.
After about forty-five minutes we’re back in the boat. A gasping diver pulls off his gear. “I’ve never seen as many moray eels as I just saw down there!” he says. He repeats it to himself, and you suspect it’s an experience he won’t soon forget.
In his book The Log from the Sea of Cortez, John Steinbeck recounted a visit to Pulmo during a 1940 boat trip to collect biological specimens: “The complexity of the life pattern on Pulmo reef was even greater than at Cape San Lucas. Clinging to the coral, growing on it,burrowing into it was a teeming fauna. One small piece of coral might conceal 30 or 40 species, and the colors of the reef were electric.”
It may be hard to believe, as we live on a planet that sometimes verges on environmental catastrophe, but Cabo Pulmo may be one of the places where things are pretty much like they were described in 1940. The waters are still clear and clean a necessity for a living coral reef that can’t tolerate any clogging sediment in the water. The condition of the park is due, in large part, to the respect that Cole Barrymore and other water enthusiasts have for this area. With care and proper management, Cabo Pulmo and its spectacular sights will always be available to those willing to take the trip along the proverbial dirt road less traveled.
After the dive, we wander the streets of the town, a remarkably open place with a frontier-like atmosphere, where horses roam the streets and beaches unattended and nobody really locks their doors. “The honor system is still alive and well here,” Henri says. Local restaurants are also wide open, sometimes more occupied by sleeping cats than customers. We stop at Nancy’s, across from the resort, which has a reputation for good food, when you can find the proprietor, an American who moved here to be with her daughter, and ended up cooking for the entire town. Could be our timing today, but no one is there. When Nancy is on hand and at the stove, this is the place for fresh seafood, pizza and home cooked meals in a cozy palapa setting with a full bar.
It doesn’t take long to cover the town, and we make the rounds over to El Caballero, which is where Cole met his wife. Run by a local family, El Caballero offers traditional Mexican plates on a large outdoor patio and is the place to go for breakfast huevos rancheros. Another favorite stop is Tito’s, an unassuming place with a reputation for good fish and shrimp tacos, world class chile rellenos, and cold cervezas. Don’t ask for a menu, as they don’t have one, but the prices are a bargain and the service is friendly.
The sun is setting as we pull out of Cabo Pulmo. It’s been a good day full of new experiences, and a trip that both Paul and I had always wanted to make. Cabo Pulmo seems to be a world unto itself, a small sleepy Baja village, almost unchanged since Steinbeck made his stop, with friendly people, good food, cold beer, and one of the world’s most beautiful natural aquariums just offshore. You couldn’t ask for anything more.
For more information, please visit:http://www.cabopulmo.com
Travel Warning U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Mexico - February 08, 2012
We have all heard the horror stories of travelling to Mexico. Carjackings, drugs, kidnappings, etc, etc...These warnings are greatly exaggerated and put in place by government officials that are discouraging travel outside of the United States.
Mexico is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It depends on American and Canadian tourists to help sustain it's economy.
I have lived and worked in Mexico for over 6 years. I have a beautiful Mexican wife who has been here her whole life and we have never experienced any problems out of the ordinary. Of course you'll run into problems if you put yourself in a bad situation. The key is to be smart. Just remember all the things you were taught as a kid. The Mexican Government is doing their best to combat criminal activity. That said, there are places here in Mexico that I won't even visit. But rest assured that areas like Baja California Sur (Los Cabos, Cabo Pulmo, La Paz, Loreto, Mulege, etc...) are very safe and secure. The Army, Marines and local law enforcement, along with US law enforcement have really kept Baja Sur clean from drug traffickers.
The below statement comes directly from the US Dept of State:
Baja California (South): Cabo San Lucas is a major city/travel destination in the Southern portion of Baja California - No advisory is in effect.
So what are you waiting for - Give us a call and get ready to dive cabo, surf cabo, snorkel cabo, mountain bike cabo, relax in cabo, hike cabo, bird watch cabo.
Check out our website www.cabopulmo.com and check our SPECIALS !!!
US: 562-366-0722 (the call is free) MX: 624-141-0726
Tell 'em Rick sent you. See you soon!
The managers at Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort finally get married. After living and working together as managers of dive resorts, managing boutique hotels and travelling around Mexico Rick and Getse tie the Knot on the 4th of May, 2012. They have been working together at Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort running Cabo Dive Center & Coral Reef Restaurant for nearly three years. Let's wish these two newlyweds a long and prosperous life and lifelong marraige. having said all of that. if you'd like to dive cabo, snorkel cabo or inquire about bungalow rentals, these are the 2 to talk to. Feel free to give them a buzz at US: 562-366-0722 or MX: 624-141-0726 Ask for Rick or Getse and tell them you saw this post for 50% discount on your stay.
October 6, 2011
"NGO questions the profitability of new tourism development in Baja California Sur (Mexico)."
EFE (Spanish News Agency with coverage in Spain and Europe) by Juan David Leal.
“The conservation organization, WiLDCOAST/ COSTASALVAjE, criticized today the Mexican Government for supporting the construction of new development in the state of Baja California Sur, in the small town of Cabo Pulmo - given the fact that several recently build projects remain abandoned or on sale (without buyers) in the region. Director of Communications for WiLDCOAST/COSTASALVAjE, Fay Crevoshay, said to EFE, that the hotel occupation in Baja California Sur, which is an important tourism region where Los Cabos and La Paz are located “is not very high” and yet the Mexican authorities award new construction permits. According to official data, Los Cabos, a main tourism destination for Baja California Sur, with more than 10,000 hotel rooms, closed the year 2009 with 56% occupation and 2010 with 60%.
WiLDCOAST/COSTASALVAjE, in conjunction with Greenpeace, WWF, Niparaja, ProNatura, and Amigos para la Conservacion de Cabo Pulmo are opposed to the tourism Project Cabo Cortes which is being built by the construction company Hansa Urbana, because they fear it will affect Cabo Pulmo, the only coral reef in the Gulf of California.”
November 10, 2011 "Plans for Resort in Mexico Ignite Concern about Reef"
Washington Post By William Booth
“CABO PULMO, Mexico — where once the local waters were almost barren of life, there are now vast schools of randy and spawning big-eyed jacks. The grouper lurking in the thriving coral have reached the size of overindulged toddlers. The tiger sharks are big enough to star in scary movies. The nesting turtles, devil rays and sea lions have returned, too, alongside a few tourists wearing flippers and masks. Marine scientists express pure astonishment at what has happened in the 16 years since Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park was created at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California state, 60 miles north of Cabo San Lucas.
In August, researchers reported that the biomass of fish in the no-take marine reserve had increased by an unprecedented 463 percent in 10 years, offering hope that, if just left alone for a little while, the planet’s depleted seas can rebound.
But all is not well in Cabo Pulmo. These days, the talk in the little solar-powered village of 200 Mexicans and expats is not the vigor of the reefs but, of all things, the European debt crisis”
To read full article [in English], please click here.
November 17, 2011 "NGOs working to protect Cabo Pulmo" WiLDCOAST News Center
"On November 15th, 2011, NGO groups presented in La Paz, Mexico to a joint mission of UNESCO, RAMSAR (Convention for Wetlands of International Importance) and the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) on the current development threats to Cabo Pulmo. AIDA, CEMDA, WiLDCOAST, Greenpeace, Niparaja, Amigos para la Conservacion de Cabo Pulmo, NRDC, ProNatura, Cabet Cultura y Desarrollo, and Iemanya presented their arguments for the protection of Cabo Pulmo. Although there are many reasons to protect this globally unique coastal and marine ecosystem, the underlying message was clear: the Cabo Cortés development would devastate the remarkable marine life in Cabo Pulmo as well as the local communities".
To read the full article in English, please click here.
November 16th, 17th, and 18th Special Series about CABO PULMO on Televisa.
Mexico’s largest broadcasting corporation Televisa aired a feature story on Cabo Pulmo National Martine Park in Baja California Sur, Mexico. This three part series included an in-depth explanation about threats facing the Marine Park’s reef as a result of the proposed mega development of Cabo Cortes. Featured interviews included Cabo Pulmo residents, WiLDCOAST, Greenpeace, CEMDA, as well as the developers of Cabo Cortes. In an interesting and confrontational dialogue, Star reporter Mario Alberto Tinoco Valderama challenged Mexican authorities from the Ministry of the Environment about the permits granted to developers, despite internal opposition from their scientists and an inadequate environmental impact assessment. The series on Cabo Pulmo aired for three days on national prime time in the morning news program “Primero Noticias,” with Carlos Loret. Additionally, the broadcasting of the story coincided with the arrival of the Special Joint Mission of representatives from The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and Convention for Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR)to support further protections for the park. The three part story is called “Destroying Paradise” and uncovers a staged strategy between the Mexican Ministry for Environmental Protection and Spanish developers Hansa Urbana. The piece also describes the illegal construction permits and ill planned marina, golf course and housing development that will surely threaten the most robust marine reserve on the planet.
To see the three videos in Spanish, please click on each link: First Part, Second Part, Third Part