Defending the Veracruz Reef from a port expansion project | Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) Skip to content Skip to navigation

Defending the Veracruz Reef from a port expansion project

In the Gulf of Mexico, 27 coral reefs form a submarine mountain range running for miles between six islands. Hundreds of colorful fish species, sea urchins, starfish, and sea grasses share the reef with an abundance of other life forms. Fishing, sport diving, and beach tourism thrive along the coast. This is the magnificent Veracruz Reef, the largest coral ecosystem in the Gulf.

In 1992, Mexico’s government declared the Veracruz Reef System a Natural Protected Area. In 2004, it was listed as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention, a treaty for the protection of wetlands including reefs.

Despite the reef’s recognized significance, in 2013 the government reduced the size of the Natural Protected Area and approved a port expansion project. Construction will damage not only Veracruz Reef, but also the nearby Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve, a jewel of Mexico’s Emerald Coast, which developers will mine for rock to build the port.

What AIDA is doing: 

  • Appealing to the Convention on Biological Diversity to: assess the harms that the expansion will cause, and ask Mexico to revoke project authorization.
  • Advocating with the Mexican Ministry of Environment to compel the government to: compensate for the loss of the Natural Protected Area by selecting a similar portion of reef to protect, and provide adequate financing to remediate the damage from port expansion.



The Latest

Oceans | 2 August 2023

Mexican environmental authority violates Mexico’s highest court and international obligations when reissuing a permit for a port expansion that threatens the Veracruz Reef System

In a legal brief, AIDA and Earthjustice argue the Secretary of the Environment failed to properly evaluate the environmental impact of the project to the reef as required by Mexico’s highest more

Human Rights, Oceans | 9 February 2022

Supreme Court orders protection of Veracruz's reefs and wetlands

Mexico’s high court unanimously ruled that authorities violated the right to a healthy environment by authorizing the expansion of the Port of more

Coral reefs, Oceans | 7 January 2019

Six advances for Latin America’s reefs in 2018

In 2018, we joined people and organizations around the world in celebrating the International Year of the more


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