Wild Sea Review: New Book Explores Beach Culture, Conservation in California and Mexico


In “Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias,”Serge Dedina tells the real-life story of struggles, blockades and the loss of rich biodiverse land in California and the Baja California peninsula.

“Wild Sea” will host a book-launch party at the Tijuana Estuary Training Center Saturday from 6-8 p.m.

Dedina’s passion for the land started as a kid growing up in Imperial Beach, surfing the Tijuana Sloughs. Making his way up and down the coast for most of his life, this book chronicles surf culture, the elimination of native habitats, and the evolution of organized grassroots efforts to preserve what is left of one of the world’s largest and most diverse coastal ecosystems.

It is a journey into Magdalena Bay, the habitat of precious gray whale breeding habitats, sensitive fisheries and the quickly disappearing sea turtle and includes the stories of surfers, birdwatchers, fishermen, scientists, surfers and environmentalists, who all come together for a common cause.

The book gives a shoreline a view of the history of great wave riders and their evolution from surfers to activists.

It’s also a first-hand account of battles won and lost against poachers, politicians, private companies and government agencies.

Dedina holds nothing back in his judgment of bureaucratic and corporate interests that he believes can pose a threat to these habitats as they search for fossil fuels or mega tourism hotspots. He documents the damage done and pleas for global community involvement.

With strong conviction, Dedina takes a look at problems the region faces today and the decades-long struggle to fight river and ocean pollution from both sides of the border.

Dedina became a co-founder and Executive Director of WiLDCOAST in 2000. Collaborating with Mexico’s government officials, biological specialists and environmental groups, WiLDCOAST expanded its vision in Mexico, creating Costasalvaje in Ensenada. Globally his organization and its partners fight together to protect what is left of the wild sea.

“Wild Sea” is a fantastic read for all ages.

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Cabo Pulmo in the Huffington Post

Cabo Pulmo National Park in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Here is a photo essay/article I wrote for the Huffington Post.

CABO PULMO, Mexico – By the 1990s, decades of overfishing the waters of the Sea of Cortez left the coral reef at Cabo Pulmo, in the East Cape region of the Baja California Peninsula, almost void of life. To reverse this process the local community convinced the Mexican federal government to establish a marine protected area at Cabo Pulmo in 1995. Ninety-nine percent of the 17,560 acre Marine Protected Area that was established is ocean.

Today the Cabo Pulmo Marine Park is one the most successful examples of marine conservation in Mexico. Fishing was banned inside the park and local residents, along with the Mexican government, helped to bring the reef back from complete destruction.

Unfortunately, development pressures along the East Cape now threaten the fragile beauty, abundance, and diversity of the marine species for which it is famous.

Photo: Octavio Aburto

“Coral reefs are very fragile ecosystems, explains Dr. Octavio Aburto Oropeza, from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and an Associate of the International League of Conservation Photographers. “They are nurseries essential to populating the oceans. Cabo Pulmo is estimated to be 20,000 years old, and is home to 226 fish species”.

Yellowfin tuna are being fished as a replaceme...

Image via Wikipedia

A Spanish company, Hansa Urbana, plans to build a tourism mega-development on 9,875 acres adjacent to the marine park. If the development goes through, the sleepy and white sand fringed Cabo Pulmo will be joined by 40,000 new residents in a complex that will include hotels, condominiums, a 490 slip marina, two golf courses, and shopping centers.

Mexican environmental authorities had already given the green light to the Spanish company but eight months of legal and media pressures by a coalition of local residents, non-profit organizations, and researchers have made the Secretary of the Environment reconsider the project. It has temporarily revoked Hansa’s building permits pending new evidence on the impacts of the development on the coral reef.

Badly planned marina developmet at La Ribera near Cabo Pulmo. Photo: Ralph Lee Hopkins

The director of the Cabo Pulmo National Park, Javier Alejandro Gonzalez, told the media in an interview that the National Commission on National Protected Areas (CONANP) found that Cabo Cortes’ environmental-impact statement “was vague in several points” and contained figures that “had not been validated”.

“We have spoken with experts, such as Dr. Octavio Aburto Oropeza, from Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Dr Ezequiel Escurra, and others, and they all warn of dire consequences if the resort project is not cancelled’, says Fay Crevoshay, communications director of WiLDCOAST, and part of the coalition called “Cabo Pulmo Vivo!”, that is trying to raise public awareness about the threats to the reef.

Enrique Castro, whose family has lived for five generations in the small community, says, “fifteen years ago we stopped fishing and started taking care of the reef. Today we offer tourist services such as diving, snorkeling, boat rides, sport fishing [outside of the park], and lodging. And now they are going to kill the reef and what about us? Tourists will not come to see a dead reef.”

“Following 15 years of protection the Cabo Pulmo coral reef has recovered from overfishing, becoming the marine area with the highest concentration of fish in the Sea of Cortez,” said Serge Dedina, Executive Director of WiLDCOAST and author of the forthcoming Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias.

Photo: Carlos Aguilera

The Baja Boys Surfing Survival Tour 2010

The Baja Boys have been exploring the back roads and surfing the point breaks of Baja California since they were micro-groms. In this video, they break down in the middle of the desert. Stranded and surrounded by scorpions, they find perfect point waves and make friends with the locals.

 

The Baja Boys-Israel, Daniel and Josh take a break from the water.

Field camp in Baja. Good equipment is the key to having fun in Baja. The wind shelter didn't survive a later winter trip.

 

Daniel gets a good one. We almost never encounter crowds where we surf in Baja. We never saw anyone else surfing this spot at all.

Israel got a little tired of going right all the time. Unfortunately our trip to Conejo was marred by big winds.

On this day the groms surfed literally until they dropped. All we do in Baja is surf all day, get up early and go to bed early. A grom paradise.

KILLING BAJA

Five reasons the Baja we know and love will be gone in a decade — and what you can do to save it

Winter is here and just about everyone who lives for the long point waves of Baja believes in the Pristine Myth — the conviction that Baja will be empty, desolate and wild — forever. This delusion is at erroneous at best and dangerous at worst. The Baja California that drives us to live for that frenzied first round-the-bend glimpse of a pumping swell at a “secret” point we’ve surfed for the past quarter century is going fast and could disappear in ten years.

Here are five reasons why the Baja you love, the Baja you dream of, the Baja that makes you feel like a primeval surf explorer will no longer exist in a decade — unless you take action to save it:

cruise99ens14 Ensenada Coast, Baja California 1999

Image by CanadaGood via Flickr

Energy/Desal Development. In the past decade some of the world’s biggest energy companies — Sempra, Shell, Chevron-Texaco, and Marathon Oil — have either built or proposed the construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals along Baja’s Pacific coast. And now California water companies are planning to build desal plants on the Baja’s coast, in order to purchase the water back. Makes sense? It doesn’t to me either.

Port Construction. Taiwanese investors are still planning a five billion dollar massive industrial, LNG and urban complex on one of the last pristine stretches of coastline between Ensenada and San Quintin at Cabo Colonet. This new port will be larger than the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles combined. The city associated with the Port will eventually rival Ensenada and will envelop every surf spot around Cuatros.

Marinas and Mega-Resorts. In 2003, John McCarthy, Mexico’s Chief of Tourism Development (FONATUR), announced plans to roll back a plan to build marinas at six point breaks on Baja’s Pacific coast including Scorpion Bay and Punta Abreojos.  While these projects have been cancelled, major resorts and marinas are also now on deck along the East Cape and now along the surf coast of Sinaloa.

The Baja Boom/Bust. With the detonation of the second home market in Baja and the availability of once previously locked off coastal property (due to previous inability of ejidos or collective agrarian cooperatives to sell land), the race is on to buy up and develop every speck of coastal Baja. Even though under Mexican law coastal access is a right, after all of this development occurs, entry to the coast for visiting surfers and local rippers will become almost impossible.

Tijuana River seen from a pedestrian bridge in...

Image via Wikipedia

Coastal Pollution. Runoff from the Tijuana River has made Imperial Beach, Coronado some of the most polluted surf breaks in California. Just north of Baja Malibu, a creek at San Antonio delivers about 30 million gallons of sewage to the coast every day, 365 days a year. Development around San Miguel sends sewage right into the lineup after it rains. Expect new coastal development to pollute your favorite wave in Baja.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Protect the Coast. You can protect the coastal property you own or plan to buy in Baja through a conservation easement — a dedicated legally valid document that prohibits your land from ever being developed into a mega-resort even after you sell it.

Leave No Trace. Pack it in and pack it out. There are no suitable landfills anywhere in Baja at all. The accumulation of plastic from cities and from surf spots is a major source of ocean pollution. Every surfer who visits Baja can make a difference just by packing out trash. Go to www.lnt.org and learn about how to save your favorite Baja break from being overrun with garbage.

Clean up the Tijuana River. WiLDCOAST and our community partners on both sides of the border have launched an effort to clean up the Tijuana River (yes it can be done) and reduce beach closures in Playas de Tijuana, Imperial Beach and Coronado. Email Benjamin@wildcoast.net to have your surf club or business endorse our Clean Water Action Plan.

Party at the Waterman’s Weekend. For the Surf Industry, the annual social calendar is capped by this summertime gala that provides a serious source of funding for organizations working to save Baja’s surf breaks.

So get a reality check. Get active. Just don’t pretend that the spot south of the border you live for with its once endless supply of crystal clean water and righteous wave is going to wait for you forever.

Originally published by Surfline


The Race to Kill Baja and the Sea of Cortez

Here is basically a press release from a yachting publication–announcing the plans for a new mega-resort marina scam on areas that are unsuitable for this type of development. The failure of the Baja Boom (turned Baja Bust) has not dissuaded the state-financed tourism development machine in Mexico to think rationally about Development. Instead there is development any cost for projects that have little relationship to the overall infrastructure and investment needs of the Mexican economy.

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Bird’s-eye View — This aerial photo shows the Sea of Cortez entrance to Rio Teacapán and Laguna Agua Grande, near where Fonatur plans two new marinas by the end of 2012, and a mega-resort similar to Cancun to be completed by 2015.

Two Marinas Planned for Huge New Sea of Cortez Resort in 2012
By: Capt. Pat Rains | Thursday, December 09, 2010 10:29:00 AM
Last updated: Thursday, December 09, 2010 10:29:00 AM

Mexico president Felipe Calderon announced plans for a huge new tourist development, including two marinas on the mainland side of the Sea of Cortez.

Bird’s-eye View — This aerial photo shows the Sea of Cortez entrance to Rio Teacapán and Laguna Agua Grande, near where Fonatur plans two new marinas by the end of 2012, and a mega-resort similar to Cancun to be completed by 2015.

Described as twice the size of Cancun, the new beachfront development will initially cover 7.5 miles of Sinaloa coastline in an area about 80 miles south of Mazatlan. Stretching over 5,884 acres, the mega-resort will encompass the vast Laguna Agua Grande waterway and several canals, plus the seaside towns of Isla del Bosque and Teacapán at the border with Nayarit.
The fishing port of Teacapán lies about 40 miles north of Isla Isabela, which is a protected nesting zone for frigate birds and blue-footed boobies. Although Isla Isabela is a popular cruising and fishing destination, the tiny island has room for only a handful of oceangoing yachts in two small fair-weather anchorages.

Logistically, new marinas nearby on the Sinaloa mainland would provide recreational boaters with safer berthing, fuel, shelter from bad weather and shorter offshore passages between existing destinations.

The two new marinas will provide a total of 1,000 slips designed “in harmony with the Escalera Nautica marina model,” according to Fonatur, the federal agency tasked with developing tourism infrastructure. Fonatur completed nine other full-service marinas now operating under the Singlar banner, and most of them are currently for sale or have been sold to private investors.

According to Barnard Thompson of Mexidata.info news service, the project is “provisionally called the Pacific Coast Integrally Planned Center.” Thompson said the first phase of the Sinaloa CIP is slated for completion in 2012, and will cost an estimated $139 million.

“The final stages of the phased developments are to be completed by 2025,” Thompson said. “This is much the same way that other Fonatur master-planned seaside resorts — such as Cancún, Los Cabos, Ixtapa, Loreto and the Bays of Huatulco — have been done.”

Besides the two big tourist marinas, the plan calls for four golf courses, about 44,200 hotel rooms (including hotels and condominiums), a 5-mile beachfront walk and a light railway (an existing rail line runs from Hermosillo to Puerto Vallarta), plus a new airport.

“Based on what has been learned from other CIPs such as Cancun,” Thompson reported, “hotels will not be allowed right on the beach. The required buffer zone will be 300 meters. Hotels will also have a maximum height limit of four stories.”

This huge new development “will be in the midst of the Sinaloa National Wetlands, in part on the near-5,000-acre Rancho Las Cabras, owned by former Sinaloa governor Antonio Toledo Corro,” Thompson’s report stated.

“Fishing is big in the region, commercial fishing (and shrimp farming), and of course sportfishing,” the report continued. “Several species of protected sea turtles come to area beaches; and, at sea, among the many species found are billfish, humpback whales and white sharks.

“Of historical significance, there are large oyster shell mounds near Teacapán that experts say were harvested by indigenous peoples living in the area as long as 4,000 years ago,” the report said.

Local fishermen and panga boat operators at first protested against this development, fearing they would not be allowed to chauffeur the avalanche of new tourists to the indigenous villages, historic oyster mounds and other ecological tours. After agreements were reached last year with hundreds of local ejido members, the resort plans have gone forward. But it still has to clear environmental hurdles.

On the Road in Baja

We are on the road in Baja with Chris del Moro of Surfers for Cetaceans.

And shocked to hear the news about the death of Andy Irons. Baja is as always a welcome respite from civilization.

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