Protecting the rich marine life of Cabo Pulmo Reef | Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) Skip to content Skip to navigation

Protecting the rich marine life of Cabo Pulmo Reef

Cabo Pulmo Reef, a 20,000-year-old ecological treasure in Baja California Sur, Mexico, hosts many of the 800 marine species in the Sea of Cortez.

Overfishing almost killed it in the 1980s. But the Mexican government intervened in 1995 to declare it a national park. Since then, the reef has grown, and the surrounding ecosystem has prospered.

Developers repeatedly try to build enormous tourist resorts at Cabo Pulmo. The proposed resorts typically include tens of thousands of hotel rooms, golf courses, an airport, sports clubs, and more—and require new housing development for thousands of employees.

Coral reefs like Cabo Pulmo are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of such poorly planned development. Sewage and wastewater runoff cause a surge in the growth of algae that blocks sunlight, causing the reef to bleach and die. Fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides from golf courses contaminate ocean currents and upset the delicate ecological balance of the area. Boating, fishing, and diving stress and break reefs, too.

Meanwhile, the reef faces a new challenge: the municipality of Los Cabos has proposed to expand the town of La Ribera, with a new urban development plan. 

AIDA has been instrumental in defeating these projects. We continue monitoring the situation and working with national partners to make legal protections for the reef stronger and permanent.

What AIDA is doing: 

  • Advocating tighter restrictions on development, water quality, fishing, shipping, and tourism in the Cabo Pulmo Marine Park Management Plan.
  • Recommending improvements to urban zoning plans.
  • Promoting best practices in reef management as a member of the National Wetlands Commission.
  • Educating legislators and government personnel about threats and solutions.
  • Conducting media outreach to publicize the need for coral reef protection and build support for reform, especially in relation to sustainable tourism and coastal land development.
fishermen loading a boat at sunrise

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