Mitsubishi Project to Sacrifice Gray Whales for Profits. What's ours could be a MINE !

The Eastern Pacific gray whale holds great significance in the fight for endangered species preservation as a symbol of success. Once hunted to near extinction by commercial whalers, gray whale populations are only now regenerating to their original numbers. This recovery is a result of five decades of protective stewardship and joint cooperation by US, Mexican and Canadian groups and individuals. While many people on the pacific coast refer to this species as the "California" gray, these migratory whales are in fact born in the Mexican lagoons of the Baja Peninsula. It is here where the gray whale species is again threatened with potential extinction in a plan to destroy the most fertile of its' habitats.

Mitsubishi Corporation and Mexican government owned Exportadora de Sal (ES), a salt export company of which Mitsubishi owns 49%, are threatening to expand salt mining operations in the Vezcaino Desert Reserve, part of the UN's Biosphere Reserve Program. Specifically this project would be ecologically devastating to the San Ignacio Lagoon area, the most pristine of four bays where migrating gray whales spend their winter months.

The Mitsubishi/ES project would directly sacrifice 21,000 acres of protected land surrounding the lagoon for an industrial complex. Plans call for the building of a mile long pier, located 12 miles from mouth of the lagoon, to facilitate a rotating flotilla of ocean going ships. Damage to this pier from winter storms and summer hurricanes could necessitate the dredging of the lagoon itself in order to accommodate ship traffic. Operation of the saltworks will demand the nonstop pumping of sea water from the lagoon at the rate of 6,600 gallons per second, adversely lowering the lagoon's temperature and salinity. The surrounding network of roads needed to service the saltworks would, by the company's own admission, have a permanent physical impact on 86,000 acres of the Reserve.

Temporary Stay of Execution

The National Ecology Institute of Mexico recently halted this project by rejecting the EIA submitted by ES. The rejection cited the saltworks' incompatibility with the biosphere reserve and its proximity to the lagoon. This temporary victory is largely a result of pressure from the Mexican environmental organization Grupo de los Cien (Group of 100). Juan Ignacio Bremer, director of ES and coincidentally Mexico's Secretary of Commerce, has filed an appeal with the Mexican government regarding this decision. This issue will be heavily influenced, if not decided, by international public opinion. We must take action! This issue is crucial for gray whale protection as well as a critical test for the working partnership between the Mexican and US environmental communities. The decision making powers in Mexico need to hear from you. Don't let your silence send a counterproductive message!

Gray Whales

Go to IMMP table of contents.

Earth Island Home Join Email