Baja California Sur Bans Plastic Bags, Straws & Sytrofoam

Plastic Straw Pollution (image source: Waterways Charity Thames 21)

“New state law in Baja California Sur banning use of plastic bags, straws and styrofoam. In the following 12 months stores, restaurants and food venders will be given time to use the plastic they have and then after that it will be prohibited. In the following 18 months venders for plastic containers (plastic bags, straws, and styrofoam cups, plates, bowls) will be given to change for organic and compostable options now available in BCS and in general in Mexico. Basically, the government gives a certain time to vendors and clients to adjust to a now widely known fact: plastic kills our wildlife, pollute the marine and terrestrial wildlife we eat and over fills our limited land. The complete press bulletin in Spanish is attached. The attached pictures are from the young folks who made it possible in La Paz at the State Congress – the law was passed unanimously. In 34 years of living in BCS, I never thought I would see the day. I am so happy to see this time come! Every time that as a consumer you showed up with your own canvas bags, or your own container, or said “no straw please” – it made a measure difference. Thank you for helping us get here. Desplasticate = take plastic out of your life – is the state coalition of business that achieved this law.”

– Thanks to Cecilia Fisher for posting this on Facebook.

La parte sustantiva de la ley es:
“El Congreso del Estado aprobó por unanimidad una reforma a la Ley de Equilibrio Ecológico y Protección al Ambiente del Estado de Baja California Sur, mismo que establece la eliminación del uso de bolsas plásticas, contenedores de unicel (poliestireno expandido) y popotes plásticos.
Cabe mencionar que a partir de que la Ley entre en vigor se dará un lapso de 12 meses a supermercados, tiendas de autoservicio y conveniencia, mercados y restaurantes, para utilizar el producto con el que ya cuentan e ir desplazándolo por otras opciones. Mientras que los distribuidores de menudeo y mayoreo de dichos productos contarán con 18 meses”

Season of Clouds

Sky on Fire

Humid & hot.

The weighted sky water of summer. A thousand wardrobe changes in the day (and that’s just the sky!).

Color palettes shift from frothy white to angry greys with blasts of orange and red and gold sprinkled between.

The wind carries them from the north east, from the south .. back around again from the west. It shapes them— along with temperature, pressure, underlying terrain — into ragged forms, soft cumulous curls, a streaking line of stratus.   Thunderheads build .. threaten .. and then simply drift away …

The season of clouds. The heart of summer in Baja.

Homage to the Home Planet

Earth Day-Loreto Pride 2011

Earth Day – Loreto Pride were celebrated on April 10, 2011 with a community cleanup of the Arroyo Candeleria.  The event was sponsored by the Waterkeeper Alliance, Parque Nacional Bahia de Loreto, Loretanos por un mar lleno de vida, and Eco-Alianza de Loreto. A.C.

As in years past, the arroyo had been used by those less educated about the affects of garbage as a dumping ground for unimaginable waste.  During the dry winter season, the arroyo serves mostly as a road from Mex 1 into the beach front community, but in the rainy season, it can/does become a roaring torrent, pushing everything in its path into the Sea of Cortez.  Hence, the need to remove the accumulated refuse, and save the waters from unnecessary pollution.

Discarded Refuse in the Arroyo Candeleria

There was grousing in the community about ‘cleaning up “that” place again’ … accompanied with ‘they’re just going to fill up up with trash when we’re finished’ … but the choice of the arroyo was the right one.  Intelligent and needed, no matter who caused or created the refuse.  At the end of the day, it was the sea that won – and those who live near it and call upon it for their livelihood.

Waste management is an on-going concern for every community, not only pickup, but what to do with our collective garbage once it leaves our doorstep?  It’s not only a residential problem, but a commercial one, as well.  The nuclear fuel crisis in Fukishima, Japan heightens awareness of exactly what we humans create, and the havoc we face in disposal.  Batteries, florescent tubing, toxic motor oils, paint thinners, industrial cleaners, acids …substances poisonous enough to cause serious and even deadly harm to man.  We create them, we use them, but what do with do with them when we are ‘done’?

On Earth Day this year in Loreto, something wondrous happened.  Over 200 school age youth arrived at the registration desk, ready to put their energies into their community.  They were not the creators or the garbage mess, nor did they necessarily live in close proximity, but there they were, ready to put muscle and heart into protecting the waters that they love.

Over 200 Local Youth Signed Up to Help with the Cleanup!

Rubber gloves and contractors trash bags were disseminated at both registration, and along the cleanup route.  There was a water truck to make sure that everyone was hydrated, and multiple pickup trucks to cart the collected refuse to the dump – where is should have been deposited in the first place.

They brought friends, cellphones, and great attitudes.  In fact, I don’t think the arroyo has ever been cleaned as quickly as with this small energetic army!  There were expected ughs and gags.  I mean, not only garbage but dead animals were in the mix.

Some of the things I personally picked up : plastic, plastic, plastic (remind me NEVER AGAIN to use a plastic bag to carry something)((when it sits in the sun, plastic doesn’t degrade, it merely hardens – so that when you go to pick it up, it breaks into millions of itty bitty pieces of plastic!!)), dirty diapers, plastic bottles (yes, more plastic), tin cans, empty food containers, partially full food containers, cigarette boxes, broken and unbroken bottles, cardboard boxes, broken plastic cracks, broken trash cans, toilet paper, Kleenex, more plastic bags wrapped around cactus and trees, building materials, old bits of rubber piping, florescent light bulbs shattered into millions of pieces –

SIDEBAR : As I sat in the dirt trying to pick up as many tiny fragments of glass as possible, I was struck by the beauty of the sunlight on the shards, and my thoughts was – wow – if I were a fish or a dolphin or whatever – I’d be attracted by the shimmering beauty and for sure take a bite!  Sudden – or maybe agonizingly slow – death.

… and still more : old bricks, broken tiles, trashed appliances – and/or parts of appliances, motor oil cans, paint cans, foam cups, foam bits and pieces, school books, notebooks, papers, cigarette butts, plastic trays (does the uses of plastic never end?), plastic water bottles, lamp shades …… There was more – over 30 filled trucks and trailer trips to the dump!

Students Created a Demonstration Board on Value of Clean Seas

And when we were done?  Amazing.  A clean arroyo, just as it should be.  Filled with mesquite and paloverde.  For a few minutes, we all sighed, smiled, and congratulated ourselves on our work… and then set to thinking how to educate those who do not understand the relationship between their actions and the health of the seas.

The crowd of dusty dirty volunteers headed up the beach to Rancho Jaral, where a celebratory barbecue was held.  Hats off to all community volunteers, including the Marine Park, ZOEFEMAT, Hugo Quintero, Tony and Linda Kinninger, Pam and Kent Williams, Mary and Nick Lampros, Catharine Cooper, the students and their participation in the EAL workshop under the direction of Edna Peralta, Program Administrator for Education and Outreach, Horacio Gabrera – Exectutive Director of Eco-Alianza, and Gaby Suarez – Program Director for the new Waste Management Program.

Pescadores Vigilantes

On June 1, 2009, the foundation for “Pescadores Vigilantes” (vigilant fishermen) was established in Loreto, BCS.  To address issues concerning conservation of the fishing industry and the National Marine Park, local commercial and sport fishermen were invited to a meeting sponsored by Eco-Alianza de Loreto. Participation was strong as over 100 responses were received by the organizers.

The meeting was held at Mediterraneo Restaurant to coincide with the celebration of Mariner’s Day. Laura Escobosa, the Director of Eco-Alianza, was introduced by Pam Bolles of Baja Big Fish, who expressed her thanks for organizing the event. The purpose of the evening was to communicate the need for the fisherman to work together to protect the sea and thus their livelihood.  Fishing is one of the economic pillars in the community of Loreto, and protecting the sea must be seen as “good business” by everyone. The meeting was designed to create solutions that will insure the stability of the local industry.

Conservation regulations are in place in the Loreto National Marine Park, but there is little enforcement and insufficient resources to protect the area.  Local fishermen complain of the fleets from Sinaloa that drain the resource without permit or conscience, but there seems to be no one to stop them.  Loretano commercial and sport fishers pay fees and licenses that are not charged to those from outside areas.  American sport fishers are often overloaded with guests – and fish without permits that local charter companies are required to purchase.  The system is unjust and not well managed.

Pescadores Vigilantes is designed to address these issues.  Acting as one, instead of isolated voices, is it hoped the local fisherman will be able to increase the weight of their ideas and establish a more powerful position in the future of their industry.

At the heart of the formation of the group is a vehicle for reporting illegal activities.
One of the previous stumbling blocks has been a fear of identification and possible retribution, but channels are now in place to provide complete anonymity.  Fishermen can make a simple phone call or visit the office of Eco-Alianza to report illegal activities, with complete assurance that their names will never be revealed.

Protection of the Park and its resources is everyone’s responsibility – those who live in Loreto and those who visit.  But it is the fishermen, who are on the water daily, who must assume a leadership role.

The Park and all its beauty cannot defend itself against human intrusion as environmental abuses such as dumping of trash, oils, paints and other waste products – both at sea and on land – threaten the health of the marine life.  As the sea becomes over-fished and polluted, the ecosystem will collapse, and the economic effects on Loreto will be devastating.

To further support the Pescadores Vigilantes, Eco-Alianza pledged to develop a clearly delineated map of fishing zones and no-take areas, plus  produce a simple version of current regulations and guidelines inside the park, using information from the recently generated “Ordenamiento Pesquero”.

The meeting provided an opportunity for the fisherman to share their ideas and develop an on-going dialog.  Ms. Escobosa sat with several of the attendees after her presentation, and listened to their questions and suggestions.  They expressed a willingness to help with surveillance, but more than that, they wanted their voices to be taken into consideration when decisions about the future of Loreto are made.  As fishermen, they understand their importance to the tourist economy.

Some of their other ideas included having a booth at the Marina open from 6 AM to 6 PM where visitors could purchase FONMAR fishing licenses and CONANP bracelets.  Currently, nothing is available until after 9 AM.

There was an extended conversation about limiting the number of fishing permits that are available.  If the number were fixed, that would limit outside fishing interests from taking from the park.  Permits could then be sold or inherited by relatives.  This is a technique that has been proven to work as a conservation tool in Canada and Alaska.

Some of the fishermen in attendance included: Loreto Velis Murillo, Alejandro Davis, Victor Manuel Villalejo, Ramon Mayoral Baeza, José Luis Davis Meza, and Octavio Acosta.

It is hoped that different leaders in the community will emerge after the event, and that strategies can be developed to strengthen the fishing sector. A follow up meeting is planned in three months.