Case Study: Salt vs. Whales

Michael Williamson (
Mon, 29 Mar 1995 15:20:21

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Date: Wed, 29 Mar 1995 15:21:30 -0500 (EST)
From: Michael Williamson <WHE_WILLIAM@FLO.ORG>
Subject: Case Study: Salt vs. Whales
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Subj:	Mexico salt plan threatens wha
Date:         Tue, 28 Mar 1995 11:33:00 UTC
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Subject:      Mexico salt plan threatens wha
To:           Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
Mexico salt plan threatens whales, ecologists say
    MEXICO CITY, March 27 (Reuter) - Government plans to develop
a salt production facility in northern Mexico threaten a key
breeding ground used by migrating grey whales, a prominent
Mexican environmental group said on Monday.
    Mexico's Commerce Ministry is battling federal ecology
officials over the planned state-owned facility at a bay used by
migrating whales in Baja California Sur state's Vizcaino Desert
Biosphere Reserve.
    While ecology officials have blocked the plan for now,
ecologists say they fear economic interests will eventually win
the day.
    ``The plan is very much alive and interests within the
Mexican government want to see it through,'' Homero Aridjis, the
head of Mexico's Group of 100, an ecology organisation made up
of intellectuals and authors, told a news conference.
    Mexican Commerce Minister Herminio Blanco, Baja California
governor Guillermo Mercado Romero and local officials say the
project's $120 million investment would provide badly-needed
relief for the state from Mexico's economic crisis.
    But ecologists say the project threatens one of North
America's most important breeding grounds for whales which
travel every winter from Alaska's frigid waters to four breeding
grounds in Mexico.
    At a nearby bay in the state where the government already
operates a salt-production factory, no grey whales had been
spotted in two years, Aridjis said.
    ``This battle pits major economic interests against Mexico's
environmental policies including protection of the grey whale's
winter habitat,'' Aridjis said.
    Mexican ecology officials say they may have to fight it out
with commerce officials in court but concede they can only block
the project as long as it does not meet Mexican environmental
    ``We will have to abide by what the law says,'' Gabriel
Quadri, a top ecology official, told reporters.
    Aridjis said he fears the law is not strict enough to
prevent the project.