Published On: Wed, Jul 18th, 2018

A unique nature insurance policy aims to preserve Mexico’s Great Maya Reef

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Part of the Mesoamerican Reef has just come off the list of endangered UNESCO heritage. In Mexico, mass tourism is to fund a first-of-its-kind insurance plan to restore its reefs after hurricanes. But challenges remain.

“Welcome to my office,” shouts guide Herlan to his crew of tourists before diving into the crystal clear waters off Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

This 35-mile (60-kilometer) stretch of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System is among the attractions drawing millions to the booming Riviera Maya tourism hub in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, generating around $10 billion (€8 billion) annually and contributing nearly 8 percent of Mexico’s GDP.

Mass tourism to towns Cancún and Playa del Carmen in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, though making money, has also degraded the region’s reef.

Travelers are discouraged from using non-biodegradable sunscreen in order to safeguard against fragile aquatic ecosystems (Photo: DW)

The 600-mile Mesoamerican Reef stretches down to Honduras, and is the second-largest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef off Australia.

The United Nations World Heritage Committee recently removed the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System from the list of world heritage sites in danger, after determining that Mexico’s southern neighbor had effectively safeguarded its section of the reef by checking oil extraction and unsustainable development.

And despite the impacts of tourism on the Mexican portion of the Great Mayan Reef, this is not the only threat.

“Some of the biggest challenges to the reef are pollution, global warming and overfishing — another major reason for its decline is hurricanes,” Fernando Secaira, global coastal risk and resilience lead in Mexico for United States-based environmental group The Nature Conservancy (TNC), told DW.

Sign in Spanish prohibiting sun screen from being worn (DW/S. Meinecke)

Click here for full article on DW



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