Victory for Reefs & Wetlands in Veracruz

Still from ‘La batalla por los arrecifes veracruzanos’ video. CEMDA

ELAW partners at the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA) announced a stunning victory Wednesday, protecting a critical coral reef system in Veracruz from short-sighted plans to expand the Veracruz Port. Mexico’s Supreme Court canceled the environmental authorizations for the port expansion project, sending developers back to the drawing board.
“The court decision is fantastic!” says Xavier Martinez, CEMDA Technical Operations Director.
Last year, ELAW, AIDA, and Earthjustice submitted amicus briefs. In the amicus, ELAW Scientist Dr. Melissa Garren described the critical role coral reefs play in a healthy ecosystem and ELAW Staff Scientist Dr. Heidi Weiskel highlighted the plight of thousands of fishers who depend on the Veracruz Reef System for their livelihoods and food security. ELAW Attorneys Pedro León and Alejandra Serrano Pavón shared examples from countries around the world where courts and legislatures have recognized that people and civil society organizations can initiate a legal action to protect the environment.
The court annulled the authorizations for the port expansion and Mexican authorities must now consider the project’s full impacts on reefs and wetlands in the broad area impacted by the project, and 1) elaborate plans for mitigation and restoration, 2) implement those plans, 3) seek advice from the National Council of Natural Protected Areas, and 4) request that the National Wetlands Committee require the International Wetlands Committee (RAMSAR) to appoint a group of experts to evaluate the site and ensure that it is protected.
Xavier says Dr. Weiskel helped CEMDA with one of the most important parts of the case – proving that the cumulative impact of all parts of the proposed port project must be taken into account. “She analyzed project plans and showed how the environmental authority did not evaluate the full risks of the project,” says Xavier.
Congratulations Xavier and the CEMDA team on this victory for communities, reefs, and wetlands!
For more information, see:
February 9, 2022
The Supreme Court of Justice Orders Protection of Veracruz Reefs and Wetlands 

Bern Johnson
Executive Director
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide