The federal environmental agency Profepa has closed down 36 tourism-related projects on Isla Holbox in Quintana Roo, calling them illegal.
The developments were located in coastal areas of the island and within the limits of the natural protected area of Yum Balam. Officials described them as being “outside the law.”
Profepa chief Guillermo Haro Belchez flew over the island to assess the environmental impact in several areas, including one where a brush fire took place last year.
Profepa issued a statement saying Haro had confirmed that area’s “natural recovery” after a case of arson last September that consumed 87 hectares of the natural protected area.
Haro’s visit came two weeks after a fire in a solid waste transfer center whose capacity has been overwhelmed and serves mostly as an open-air landfill.
The toxic fumes that were released during the large fire, which burned for five days, created health problems among residents, charged a group of non-governmental organizations.
The environmental groups also denounced issues they believe are affecting the island, including the indiscriminate clearing of jungle and mangroves, illegal development and construction, pollution of the subsoil and the ocean caused by the lack of storm drains and sewage disposal and unsustainable fishing practices.
In its statement, Profepa declared that between 2014 and 2017 it performed 40 inspection visits to the island, ordered 30 suspensions and attended to 34 citizens’ complaints.
But the NGOs claimed the situation was rather different and reproached all three levels of government for neglecting Isla Holbox.
The groups said they have filed 50 formal complaints before Profepa this year, of which only six have been attended to.