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January 2012    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 27, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Showdown in Cabo Pulmo

from the January, 2012 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In one corner are the villagers of this tiny Baja California village near Cabo San Lucas, and an international coalition of environmentalists. In the other are Spanish developers of a mammoth resort planned for the edge of Cabo Pulmo's coral reef, a crucial fisheries breeding ground and a favorite of Undercurrent divers (see our February 2010 travel story).

Since Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park was created 16 years ago, the once-depleted waters are now home to vast schools of spawning big-eyed jacks, huge groupers, tiger sharks and nesting turtles. In August, scientists reported that the biomass of fish in the no-take marine reserve had increased by an unprecedented 463 percent in 10 years. But if the resort is built a few miles to the north, all that good news could disappear, say ecologists, with pollution destroying the reef and its sea life.

The developers argue that Cabo Cortes - - where they envision a 490-berth marina, golf courses, and 30,000 bedrooms in hotels, condominiums and villas - - will bring eco-friendly jobs and tourist dollars to a backwater in need of both.

While financiers usually prevailed in past such skirmishes, this time the fish might have a chance. Mexican officials, who approved Cabo Cortes four years ago, might be reconsidering. And Hansa Urbana, the financially-strapped Spanish developer, has lost control of the project to its lender, which in turn has been taken over by Spain's central bank. No one knows what a new owner of the project can or will do, so opponents are pouring the pressure on President Felipe Calderson, who prides himself on environmental sensibilities.

As divers and tourists, you too can put the pressure on Mexican officials to keep Cabo Pulmo pristine and free of mega-resorts. Sign petitions at the websites for Cabo Pulmo Vivo ( www.cabopulmovivo.org ) and WildCoast ( www.wildcoast.net/take-action/petitions/3 ) to help the locals and environmentalists keep the big developers at bay.

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