MEXICO CITY – The port of Veracruz expansion project threatens reefs off the Mexican Gulf city, the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) said.
“By putting at risk the Veracruz Reef System – the largest in the Gulf of Mexico, whose protection is a matter of public interest – the government also threatens the right to a healthy environment of the people who depend on it,” AIDA attorney Camilo Thompson said.
AIDA filed an amicus brief backing Veracruz residents who are trying to block the port expansion to protect the reefs.
“The expansion project was authorized without an adequate evaluation of the impacts it would have,” Thompson said.
The government issued an environmental permit for the project on Nov. 21, 2013, but officials had reduced the reef area in November 2012 to make the port expansion project viable.
“In authorizing the project, the government breached international obligations to protect its natural environment and the people that depend on it. Many of those obligations are outlined in treaties to which Mexico is party,” AIDA said.
Among the agreements violated by the government are the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the American Convention on Human Rights, the environmental group said.
“The reefs of Veracruz contain a rich natural wealth that must be protected,” Thompson said. “The expansion project would destroy part of that habitat and lead to the loss of a great amount of biological diversity. It also could lead to stranded vessels, contaminating spills, and the loss of fishing resources that sustain the local economy.”