THE INTEGRATED ENVIRONMENTAL PLAN FOR THE BORDER AREA UNDERLINES
MEXICO'S COMMITMENT TO THE PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT
WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Mexico and the United States announced yesterday an Integrated Environmental Plan for the Border Area aimed at solving the most pressing ecological needs of the border region and protecting the environment and quality of life of its inhabitants.
The Integrated Environmental Plan was made public yesterday in Tijuana, Baja California, by Patricio Chirinos, Mexico's Secretary of Urban Development and Ecology (SEDUE), at the same time that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the plan in Los Angeles.
The Integrated Environmental Plan covers the most important problems that affect the border region, including protection of transboundary resources, waste water treatment, handling of municipal solid waste, monitoring water and air pollution, cooperation to improve the enforcement of environmental regulations, contingency plans to face emergency situations, among others.
To fulfill the objectives of the Integrated Environmental Plan, Mexico has announced a U.S.$460 million public works program for the 1992-1994 period that include: U.S.$220 million for waste water treatment, U.S.$25 million for municipal solid waste, U.S.$168 million for transportation and road infrastructure, U.S.$43 million for territorial reserves and U.S.$4 million for a contingency fund to allow immediate response to any environmental emergency. For 1992, $147 million already has been allocated to address the most pressing needs of the border communities.
Secretary Chirinos reaffirmed Mexico's commitment to the protection of the environment, and stating that "Only more and better economic development will generate the resources needed to protect the environment. There is no environmental solution possible in economic backwardness, poverty and economic stagnation."
Other Environmental Measures
Mexico's commitment to the protection of the environment goes beyond the border region.
-- In 1990 Mexico announced its 1990-1994 National Plan for Ecological Protection whose purpose is to coordinate the actions of the government to harmonize the demands of society for a cleaner environment with the economic trends that affect the ecological equilibrium. The plan addresses issues such as national parks and ecological reserves, water quality, elimination of polluting activities and enactment of measures to regenerate areas whose environment has been damaged.
-- In support of these activities, SEDUE's budget for 1992 was increased by 42 percent in real terms with respect to 1991.
National System of Protected Natural Areas
-- There are 68 protected natural areas: eight biosphere reserves that amount to 10,000 hectareas, 14 special biosphere reserves, 44 national parks, a protected wildlife area and a natural monument. In total, 14 million acres are protected, a surface similar to that of West Virginia.
Two of the Biosphere Reserves, Montes Azules in the state of Chiapas
and Calakmul in the states of Campeche, are of major importance for
humanity because they host several endangered species. The rain
forest in Chiapas holds what is considered to be the richest and
most complex vegetation in the world.
The Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve in Quintana Roo protects a 110
kilometer-long reef, the second largest in the world.
The largest natural reserve in Latin America is El Vizcaino, in Baja
California. A 2.5 million hectare reserve that, among other things,
serves as refuge for hundreds of gray whales that arrive every year
to breed. The protection of the reserve has allowed the gray whale
population to show significant gains.
Protection of Specific Species
-- These regional efforts are complemented and strengthened by measures to protect specific species such as turtles and dolphins.
-- Mexico is a signatory of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Mexico's Protection of Marine Turtles
-- Mexico is the breeding ground for seven of the eight species of marine turtles in existence, two of which spawn only in Mexico. For more than 25 years, Mexico has been dedicated to marine turtle research, conservation and protection. In the last five years alone, Mexico's 56 turtle-camp-network protected more than 43 million eggs; 23 million hatchlings have been freed, ensuring the survival of 2 million reproductive females.
-- The legal framework that supports these efforts also has been reinforced. Therefore, in June 1990 Mexico announced the total, permanent hunting ban on marine turtles and a Program to Protect and Conserve the Marine Turtles. The program aims at increasing protection of marine turtles that nest on both coastlines of the country while providing financial resources and training to the Mexican communities that depend on turtle trade so that they can develop new fishing activities and sources of income.
-- Mexico's effort to protect marine turtles has had a clear international impact. Between 1977 and 1989, Mexico donated an average of 2,000 Kemp's Ridley turtles eggs a year for re-population and incubation activities in the United States. To date, more than 16,590 Kemp's Ridley turtles have been released into the Gulf of Mexico as part of the U.S.-Mexico Kemp's Ridley Recovery Program.
Mexico's Efforts to Protect Dolphins
-- Mexico is concerned with dolphin incidental mortality related to the capture of tuna. Since 1977, the government established specific regulations to reduce dolphin mortality and Mexico's tuna industry has developed and implemented new techniques to fulfill the regulations. The efforts have paid off. Mexico has reduced dolphin incidental mortality by 67.5 percent in the 1986-1990 period, an accomplishment that took the U.S. tuna industry 15 years to achieve. In the first six months of 1991, dolphin mortality rates were 44.6 percent lower than in 1990.
-- Mexico considers that a permanent solution to dolphin mortality has to be sought at the multilateral level. That is why Mexico has firmly opposed the use of drift nets and supports the 1989 United Nations resolution calling for a worldwide ban on large-scale drift netting.
-- On Sept. 27, 1991, Mexico announced the 10-point Ensenada Commitment to strengthen its effort to protect the dolphins. Among others, the objectives of the program include a 100 percent official observer coverage of the Mexican tuna fishing fleet; stronger regulatory standards issued by the Fisheries Secretariat; amendments to Mexico's fishing laws permitting stronger punitive sanctions to those who harm dolphins and U.S.$1 million in research grants for the development of dolphin-safe technology.
To address the environmental problems of Mexico City, the Mexican government has developed a U.S.$4 billion program. Among some of the measures taken to reduce air and water pollution, are the following:
-- The creation of Commission for the Prevention and Control of Pollution that will coordinate the efforts of different government agencies and institutions involved in pollution control. In its first stage, U.S.$167 million will be allocated to the commission, 50 percent covered by the World Bank and the Japanese government, and 50 percent by Mexican federal funds.
-- Increased its production in Mexico of low-sulphur diesel, unleaded gasoline and gasolines rich in oxygen. The government also ordered the closure of the Azcapotzalco oil refinery in March 1991.
-- The temporary or permanent closure of polluting factories, as well as incentives for their relocation and for the installation of anti-pollution equipment.
-- The requirement that all new vehicles from 1991 on, are required to have catalitic convertors installed.
-- Extension of the Metro by another 34 kilometers.
-- The renovation of public transportation with low-polluting units.
-- In less than four years, all public transportation will be burning gas instead of gasoline or diesel.
These actions underline Mexico's effort to protect the environment and raise the quality of life of present and future generations of Mexicans. They also express Mexico's belief that its economic development and the protection of the environment go hand in hand.
/CONTACT: Javier Trevino, Roy Caple, Jorge Reyes or Antonio Ocaranza of the Embassy of Mexico, 202-728-1650/ CO: Embassy of Mexico ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:
PS -- NY093 -- 3045 02/26/92 19:56 EST