Mexico acts on polluting industries and loss of biodiversity

Mexico has announced that it plans to force all industries to document their emissions and the transport of hazardous waste, and is attempting to improve public consciousness to protect the rapid loss of species in the world’s fifth most biologically diversified nation.

The Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources, Víctor Lichtinger, announced that he will introduce a proposal for a compulsory register of contaminating emissions to Congress to begin next year, bringing Mexico into line with its partners in the North Atlantic Free Trade Association (NAFTA), the US and Canada. Under the proposal, one data base would contain information on every contaminating firm listing pollutant type and quantity emitted or produced and tracking the resulting pollution, whether it be from emissions or transported waste.

A voluntary system already exists, but has few contributing firms and NGOs complain that only a compulsory system will force industry to begin to tackle its noxious emissions problem which has contributed to make Mexico City one of the world’s most polluted, constantly obscured by smog, and has helped give many northern industrial cities their dusty and grimy image.

In the same week, the head of the Mexican environmental protection agency, PROFEPA, José Campillo García announced that in the last two years 40,000 specimens of endangered species have been seized by the agency. García spoke whilst opening an exhibition in the capital’s international airport to focus public attention on the protection of wildlife in the world’s fifth most biologically diverse nation. The agency head said that while, on average, the world’s nations lose 1.5 species each annually, Mexico loses five, and that there are 500 animal species in serious danger of extinction in the country.

Although Mexico has 17 million hectares under protection and another 14 million managed in a sustainable way, it is still insufficient to combat the loss, García said, urging all citizens and the nation’s booming tourist industry, attracting 20 million visitors every year, to be aware of species at risk and to report anyone trying to buy or sell them. The exhibition is designed to show travellers the most ‘at risk’ species and products made from them, and to remind people of the severity of trafficking in endangered wildlife. Exotic birds, lizards and wild cats are the sought after Mexican species by criminals, he said.

From now on, there will be offices nationwide to report those trafficking in endangered species as well as a freephone number. All national airports are also to implement extra measures to survey animal exports and transporting.

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