NGOs, experts and concerned citizens denounced the threat to the Veracruz Reef System

May 29, 2014 (Santa Barbara, CA and Mexico City, Mexico)
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The Veracruz Reef System is seriously threatened because the Mexican government allows the infringement upon natural protected areas and is committing a number of violations of the law in order to extend the port of Veracruz.

NGOs and organized concerned citizens working on environmental protection as well as academics and reef scientists, held a press conference to warn of the serious economic, social and environmental effects that would be the destruction of the reef and its surroundings

Rubén Arvizu, Director for Latin America, as well as film producer and writer for Jean Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society (OFS), specifically traveled to Mexico to express both personal concern and that of OFS for this project given the international importance of this ecosystem and the relevance that it represents to combat climate change.

"This is a crucial time when the deterioration, abuse and environmental destruction is leading us to an ecological disaster without precedent in human history. Climate change is an undeniable factor and the international scientific community has certified that much is due to human actions. Mexico requires a complete reassessment of the way the government is managing their environment and natural resources, "Arvizu said.

It should be noted that on December 19, 2013 to mark the release of the expansion project of the port of Veracruz by the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), organizations such as the InterAmerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) and the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA)-with support from the Assembly Veracruzana Initiatives and Environmental Defense (LAVIDA), AC Settlers, Trails & Data for Sustainable Development Contracts (PATHS), lawyers from OLE, PRONATURA Veracruz and the researcher Dr. Leonardo Ortiz-Lozano, launched a series of legal actions at the national and international level to denounce the Mexican government's intention to amend the boundaries of the Veracruz Reef System) National Park (PNSAV).

These actions included a complaint lodged with the RAMSAR Convention for the protection of wetlands. The presentation in the court of justice included a brief (amicus curiae) with technical legal arguments to strengthen the challenge filed against the decree by the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) amending and reducing PNSAV limits.

Also, CEMDA formally requested SEMARNAT to deny the authorization of the environmental impact study to Integral Port Administration Company of Veracruz SA de CV, which was submitted last February 13. The project, "Utilization and exploitation of basaltic rock located in the ejido (communal land) Balzapote, San Andres Tuxtla, Veracruz " which aims to utilize explosives to remove rocks within the Biosphere Reserve Los Tuxtlas and to be used in the construction of the extension of the port, which contravenes the legal framework and can affect species declared as threatened or endangered.

Biologist Sandra Moguel, from InterAmerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), reported, "SEMARNAT-CONANP authorities have failed in their duty to protect the reef sacrificing part of it and have violated the principle of national and international law because it is not in compliance with the legal procedures for the amendment of the Port. They have also violated the principle of non-regression, which means that once a site has been cited for environmental protection, it may not be reversed."

To reiterate the importance of the Reef Veracruzano, José Luis Tello Mussi, biologist and professor at the School of Higher Studies (FES) Iztacala UNAM, said that 25% of life that exists on the planet can be found in the coral reefs. The absorption of Carbon Dioxide (CO 2) to build their skeletons, contribute in an essential way to combat climate change. In particular, the Veracruz Reef System is comprised of 25 well-formed reefs and has historically constituted a natural defense against hurricanes and has been a source of food and economic wealth for the whole country.

Juventino Salazar, fisherman of the village, Anton Lizardo, gave testimony highlighting the complex situation they face, which has been exacerbated by the proposed expansion of the port of Veracruz. The protected Bay of Vergara and the reef of Punta Gorda are indispensable for the proper functioning of the reef system, which are now under siege.

Finally, Professor Rodrigo Navarro, representative of Yucatán's Ocean Futures Society and project partner of Communicate to conserve, highlighted the importance of effectively communicating the value of ecosystems and the power of nature. For example, he pointed to the incredible resilience of the reef, that despite human activity for more than 500 years, the Veracruz Reef System has the highest rate of replacement of all reefs in the Gulf of Mexico.

TeleMundo NBC-Universal, the European News Agency EFE, interviewed Ruben, as well Chanel 11 from the National Institute of Technology, several other local TV stations and major newspapers.

About Ocean Futures Society
Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society was founded to explore the oceans, inspiring and educating people throughout the world to act responsibly for their protection and to celebrate their vital importance to the survival of all life on the planet. Ambassadors of the Environment represents the Society’s commitment to prepare the next generation for the responsibilities they will inherit to manage the planet’s biosphere. For more information, visit the website at