Plans for a fourth cruise ship dock on the island of Cozumel, Quintana Roo, have been criticized by residents and environmental groups for the damage they claim it will do to coral reefs.
Before the pandemic Cozumel was ranked as the world’s busiest port of call for cruise ships, but has not welcomed a single passenger since last June.
The US $25-million project is backed by the president.
Residents complain that the plan is antithetical to a coral reef restoration project on the sea floor.
The environmental group Global Coral Reef Alliance agrees. “The new proposal to build the fourth cruise ship dock on Cozumel will destroy the most important project to regenerate coral [on the island],” it said in a statement.
Activists say that volunteer divers have worked for years to transplant small chunks of living coral anchored to seabed structures to grow new reefs. They say that thousands of corals have been transplanted so far, repairing damage from human activity and hurricanes.
A Change.org petition has gained over 40,000 signatures.
The company behind the project tells a different story. Its building proposal says the location for the new dock was chosen “in order not to affect coral reefs … This was backed up by field work on the sea floor, which found no presence of coral reef structures.”
It says the cruise industry, which normally brings in US $480 million a year, is expected to grow.
Tens of thousands of tourist jobs were lost in Quintana Roo in the pandemic, in a sector which accounts for 87% of the state’s economic activity.
Source: Associated Press (en)