Posted by: ecodestination | May 2, 2009

Are eroded beaches in MX screwed?

Beach erosion in Cancun (pic usurped from Trip Advisor, sorry)

Beach erosion in Cancun (pic usurped from Trip Advisor, sorry)

Understandably, since it would cause environmental problems, inhabitants are against sand extraction in their vicinity. So where should the sand come from that is needed to fight beach erosion in Cancun, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen?

The Mexican state government has begun analyzing other sources in the area and guarantee they will continue with the “beach rescue project” despite the swine flu, sinking economy, and whatever else. The govt is awaiting the approval (or not) of the regional Environmental Impact Manifestation (MIA) by the Secretary of Environmental and Natural Resources (Semarnat).

State Governor Félix González Canto said last week that “we all have to do our part.” Although the technical and financial aspects of the project are set, “the environmental issue is a legitimate concern.”

There seems to be some real interest in remaining eco-friendly here. You know, to quit pissing so many people off, is my guess.

So, he said, sand will be extracted from across the Cozumel coastline only if Semarnat approves the MIA. Experts are seeking other sand banks among numerous options between Cozumel and Isla Mujeres.

If Semarnat says NO, well, they’re going to try again. Quite optimistically, even if they fail to get Semarnat’s OK, they hope to get the project going by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Cozumel authorities show ambivalence and refrain from taking an official stance of the issue. Awesome.

Oh, and tourists have been complaining about the eroded beaches in the Mexican Caribbean, since, you know, perfect ones show up in the pamphlets…

The mayor of Cozumel, Juan Carlos González, said he understands he needs to speak up but he feels caught between “a sword and the wall.” The locals are against it because they fear it would affect the harvest of pink snails and would make the area more vulnerable to hurricanes.

The area from which the sand would be extracted, moreover, is about to be decreed a Protected Natural Area, which would conflict with the sand extraction project. With the lack of a positive MIA, there is no way to convince the community that no negative effects will be felt.

What do you think? Can a compromise be reached? Does one evil outweigh the other?



  1. hi there – your photos look dramatic and I am sure that people are very concerned ….. however this is may or may not nescessarily be an EROSION problem but it sure as anything is a PEOPLE PUTTING ASSETS TO CLOSE TO THE SEA problem. The real challenge here – and for so many coastal resorts around the world – is to manage the debate about what to do next. Can people work together to really address the issues causing the problem or will they just go straight for the concrete or rocks “solution” to the perceived problems. If that happens then you’ve just lost the reason to go the beach… cheers Harley

  2. hi harley –

    thank you for that explanation!

    i think you’re right, these are dramatic photos and many people are concerned, and likely should be. and it makes tons of sense that building right by the water would be a large cause of this problem (we basically cause all the others, right?).

    that’s interesting. and more depressing, maybe, than the alternative reason. heh.

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