PLAYA DEL CARMEN – The lack of coastal management programs and an ineffective strategy to monitor hotel developments are causing serious damages to the Riviera Maya’s coasts and ecosystems.
Eroded beaches, sediment pollution, damaged coral reefs, as well as the killing of sea turtles and other species are some of the problems that take place during the construction of these resorts, say specialists, environmentalists and local fishermen.
“The federal authorities approve these projects long distance, from behind a desk in Mexico City, and then, they only sanction these companies with economic fines, without the real knowledge of how to take care of our beaches. There are murky waters on the coasts, areas of sand with sediments, that subsequently become eroded. Developers only recover beaches on their own interests”, claims Laura Artemisa Esquivel Patiño, head of the civil association “Moce Yax Cuxtal”.
After a drone inspection organized by several local associations along with the fishermen cooperative of Playa del Carmen, who are worried and concerned about the federal and state authorities’ lack of interest on these matters, at least eight affectation points were detected at several hotel resorts, where 15 geotubes (geotubos) are currently used allegedly to protect the coastal area, but instead, these structures are causing more damage to the ecosystem around them.
Geotubes are prefabricated tubular structures, made of special geotextiles, that are used in the construction of hydraulic and marine structures. Hotels along the coast of Quintana Roo are utilizing these structures without conducting the proper environmental impact studies.
Specialists and environmental defenders emphasized the urgency of consolidating “a Comprehensive Coastal Management Council” that will involve municipal, state and federal authorities, taking into account the opinion of qualified specialists, in order to grant or deny permits to developers when it comes to coastal environmental impact.
Orquídea Trejo Buendía, municipal director of Environment, reported that projects such as Mayakobá have individual permits granted by Semarnat for the extraction of sand and to carry out the work of recovery of beaches and that if there was any collateral damage such as erosion or the killing of marine species, it is the responsiblity of the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) to investigate and impose sanctions or fines.
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