Impacts of tourist megaproject Costa Pacífico questioned

By César Angulo*

The tourism megaproject known as the Pacific Coast Integrally Planned Center (CIP) located in the municipality of Escuinapa, is one of the federal government’s most ambitious projects.  It is situated in the south of Sinaloa in the National Wetlands, one of the wetland areas with a high priority global conservation status.

The project, promoted by Fonatur (the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism) is planning on a capacity of 44,200 rooms, four golf courses, a 400 boat marina, a pier, interpretive trails within the marsh, and promenades for commerical and recreational activities, among other available services.

With the promise of USD$560 million and a total of 150,000 jobs, President Felipe Calderón launched the project in February 2009.  At the inauguration, Calderón directed comments to the local residents: “I know that the fishermen here in Escuinapa are concerned, that if the wetlands are ruined what might happen.  I assure them that that’s not going to occur.  We are going to save the wetlands as a natural ecosystem, something that people have to protect.  And may this center be a magnet for their respect of the environment.”

Nevertheless, in April 2009, environmental groups presented a petition to the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention regarding the federal government’s non-compliance with the treaty’s regulations on the rational use of wetlands.

Among those signing the petition were Cemda (Mexican Environmental Law Center), the Interamerican Environmental Defense Association, Greenpeace Mexico, Wildcoast, Conselva (Sustainability Alliance of the Coastal Northwest) and the Mangrove Network.

During a public meeting held by Semarnat (Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources), the environmental groups denounced the  project’s irregularities and impacts that had not been considered in relation to the basic infrastructure of the project.

According to the press release, the project will cause a severe ecological loss for the region and have a high impact on fishing activity in the country’s northwest.

“The project is fragmented and the scope of the impacts that CIP will have on the region from an environmental viewpoint has not been disclosed,” they contend.

*Founder and director of


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Financially troubled fisherman
transforms family business

By Manti Salem Castro Hernández,
Rebeca Ochoa Viera and Iván Alberto Flores*

Las almejas chiludas

The road to sustainable development has been a challenge for fisherman Víctor Manuel Méndez.

When fishing stopped being profitable because of the high cost of supplies (such as gasoline, fishing gear and maintenance) and the low profits generated.  Méndez trained to become

Photo: Griselda Franco

a tour boat operator, commenting: “to be involved in tourism, you have to prepare yourself.” He is now certified by the Secretary of Tourism as an interpretive tour guide.  To become a guide, he also took classes in first aid, management of protected areas and tourist services.

The National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (Conanp) helped him to buy three kayaks that he rents out, because the cooperative is interested in helping to protect the environment through low-impact activities.

In his guided boat trips, Méndez uses low impact, environmentally friendly motors and recommends that everyone, including fishermen in Teacapán, buy these because they reduce pollution.

Besides giving thanks to this grandfather, one of the first guides in Teacapán, he is also grateful to Dr. Ernesto Rivera Valdés for promoting tourism since he helped Méndez to form his own cooperative, Paseos Turísticos Isla de Pájaros.

KayaksThis microbusiness carries with it many ecological and environmental benefits that help to preserve the wide variety of ecosystems, mangroves, birds and fish that can be found in the estuary.

For the future, he is contemplating the construction of guest rooms.  His project favors the creation of productive networks, the sale of local goods, the creation of new jobs and the improvement of Teacapán’s image, holding it up as an example of a sustainable development project.

CETMar (Center for Technological Marine Studies) No. 23

Local pride in Teacapán results
in healthy fun for tourists

By Severiano Patrón Morales and Karla Alicia Ramos de la Torre*

This port town of fishermen bordering Nayarit on the south is suffering from the decline in the global fisheries.  However, being located in an ecological mangrove preserve provides an alternative economic opportunity in ecotourism for fisherman Víctor Manuel Méndez Denis.

Forty-two year old Méndez Denis is from Teacapán, Sinaloa. He recently started a ecotourism cooperative out of economic necessity since he could no longer count on making enough money from fishing to support his family.

The idea of the small cooperative offering tourist services wasn’t just an impulsive one.  Méndez speaks of how his starting the cooperative makes him proud since it reminds him of his grandfather Sixto Denis Aguirre who was also a tour guide.  Méndez already has 15 years of experience as a guide in the reserve.

Currently he makes trips to Isla de Pájaros, the mangroves and the archeological zone where there are shell middens, as well as other places that tourists might want to visit.

Méndez also rents kayaks, “bananas”, jet skis and other water sports equipment.  A year ago, he started a small restaurant facing the seafront, rehabilitating a trailer park abandoned about 60 years ago to do so.


He says that he wouldn’t leave Teacapán for anything in the world because it’s a paradise where his friends and family live.  He adds that he is proud of his birthplace because tourists tell him they would love to live there and have everything that he does.

“They should come to Teacapán,” he challenges.  “They won’t be sorry.”

*CETMar (Center for Marine Technology Studies) No. 23

Grassroots Bulletin on Sustainable Development in Northwest Mexico