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Salvemos Punta Conejo

Oaxaca, Mexico

 Support the Punta Conejo Protected Area and help preserve over 3,500 acres of outstanding Oaxacan coastline for generations.

The proposed Punta Conejo Protected Area will preserve and safeguard over 3,500 acres of land, 6.5 miles of coastline including 3 surf breaks (Punta Conejo, Punta Chivo and Punta Escondida), and 1,277 acres of mangrove forest. Preserving this surf ecosystem would also conserve habitat for over 40 species of bird and 4 species of turtle, several of which are endangered.

Punta Conejo is a renowned surf break along the coastline of Southern Oaxaca and has been at risk from multiple threats, including a proposed construction of an industrial port project.

Save The Waves has been working with local partners – Reservas de Surf Mexico, A.C., Wildcoast, and Union de Surfistas y Salvavidas de Salina Cruz, A.C. – to conserve both the surf ecosystems and the local economies that depend on it. 

Overview

Responsible Parties

Mexican Federal Government

Coordinación General de Puertos y Marina Mercante

Administración Portuaria Integral de Salina Cruz

On the Ground

Reservas de Surf México, A.C.

Salvemos Punta Conejo

Wildcoast / Costasalvaje

Union de Surfistas y Salvavidas de Salina Cruz, A.C.

Save The Waves Coalition and our local partners are proposing the first-ever coastal “Área de Protección de Flora y Fauna ” in Oaxaca. The Punta Conejo Protected Area will preserve and safeguard: 

  • 3,503 acres of land
  • 6.5 miles of coastline
  • 3 surf breaks – Punta Conejo, Punta Chivo and Punta Escondida
  • 1277 acres of mangrove forest
  • 4 local communities
  • 500+ fishermen and salt workers benefiting from the nearby lagoons
  • 40+ species of bird
  • 4 species of turtle, including the endangered Olive Ridley

Punta Conejo is a national treasure and should be protected.  While we recognize that a port expansion in the area may be necessary, we implore that the authorities pursue other viable project alternatives and recognize the cultural, biological, and economic resources that Punta Conejo provides.

Mara Arroyo

Surf Protected Area Network Manager, Save The Waves Coalition

Punta Conejo is a national treasure and should be protected.  While we recognize that a port expansion in the area may be necessary, we implore that the authorities pursue other viable project alternatives and recognize the cultural, biological, and economic resources that Punta Conejo provides.

Mara Arroyo

Mexico Regional Manager, Save The Waves Coalition

CAMPAIGN UPDATES

MORE INFORMATION

Punta Conejo surf break is located in the municipality of Salina Cruz in Oaxaca on the Pacific Coast in Southeast Mexico. Salina Cruz is part of a region with a great diversity of flora and fauna and coastal ecosystems, which makes this entire area an attractive destination for ecotourism and adventure tourism.

Salina Cruz started as a small fishing village, but due to its strategic location in the Gulf of Tehuantepec, since 1842, it has been part of a project that aims to connect the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. In December 2018 the Mexican Federal Government announced the “Development Plan for the Isthmus of Tehuantepec”, which integrates the construction of the Interoceanic Corridor connecting the ports of Coatzacoalcos, in Veracruz, and Salina Cruz, in Oaxaca, and the introduction of new coastal infrastructure in Salina Cruz. One of the concerns for the local community and the global surfing community is that the area proposed for the New Industrial Port will impact not only the surf break, but important ecosystems, including Playa Azul, Playa Brasil and the Salinas del Marqués lagoon. This lagoon is classified as wetland # 48 by CONANP in its State Coastal Wetlands Program of Oaxaca (http://www.ordenamientoecologico.oaxaca.gob.mx).

Playa Brasil, Playa Azul and Salinas del Marqués lagoon not only provide habitat for endemic animals and plants, but are also economically vital for local fishermen. In the lagoon, artisanal shrimp fishing is a tradition and part of local livelihoods. When the lagoon dries up, the local fishermen extract salt. With the construction of the new port, this wetland will be destroyed. The entire habitat that surrounds Punta Conejo surf break is a permanent and temporary home for the reproduction and breeding of vulnerable species found on the IUCN Red List, including the leatherback and olive ridley sea turtles. Both species are in NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010 and NOM-162-SEMARNAT-2012 in Mexico, which establish the specifications for the protection, recovery, and management of sea turtle populations in their nesting habitat.

In addition, Punta Conejo is an internationally recognized surf break, and the development of the new port would have a direct impact on the wave. At Punta Conejo, sand build up around the headland is integral to the way in which the wave breaks. This wave sometimes is suitable for beginners, but also very conducive to advanced surfers making it very valuable to the surfing community. Adding hard structures to a dynamic environment, that in this case is dominated by sand, will interrupt the natural equilibrium between sediment and waves/currents. The construction of breakwaters, 500 m from the seaward end of Punta Conejo, will interrupt the current sediment transport regime. These interactions together with swells from the Southwest are important for the redistribution of the sand in Punta Conejo that allows the ideal conditions in the surf for long barrels. 

Internationally, surf breaks with high-quality waves, such as Punta Conejo, are incredibly rare and highly sensitive to changes in the environment. Today, there is a global concern for the protection of surf breaks and the habitats that surround them. Punta Conejo is an ecosystem of great biological, economic and cultural importance. This area provides ecosystem services to the local community, is the habitat of vulnerable species, has great socio-economic value for the local population, as well as geological and cultural value for ecotourism and surfing.

The local community recognizes the importance of a new port for Mexico but asks the government to explore other alternatives that avoid significant impacts for local ecosystems and waves. The community and environmental conservation groups seek to establish a dialogue with the government to explore alternatives for this project. Save The Waves and Reservas de Surf México, A.C. have partnered with the local community to study the issue and advocate for alternatives to the proposed project.

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