1.         Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino (Mexico) (N 554)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1993

Criteria  (x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/554/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/554/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/554/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1997

The Committee, at its twentieth session (Merida, 1996) reviewed a report on a project for industrial salt production at the site and its potential threats to the site's whale population. The Delegate of Mexico and the Director of the Whale Sanctuary of El Viscaino informed the Committee that the project for industrial salt production has not yet been authorized and that a Scientific Committee to review the proposed project has been established by the Ministry of Environment.

In a letter dated 7 March 1997, the Mexican National Commission for UNESCO has provided the terms of reference for the work of the seven-member Scientific Committee and the environmental impact study of the proposed San Ignacio industrial salt production project. The terms of reference established for the work of the Scientific Committee are quite rigorous and comprehensive; the Scientific Committee is expected to document the actual situation of the World Heritage area prior to the commencement of the industrial salt production project, assess the impact of the project's proposed construction and operational activities on the ecological, biological and protected area management aspects of the World Heritage area and undertake a 26-issues driven socio-economic evaluation of the proposed industrial salt production project.

The Scientific Committee has had consultations with the general public in developing the terms of reference for its work and has, in its preliminary report, indicated that the proposed industrial salt production project will only be authorized if it finds that the project will not compromise the conservation of natural resources in the region and does not pose a risk to the protection of the biological heritage of the Mexican people.

A copy of the letter dated 7 March 1997 from the Mexican National Commission for UNESCO and the attached preliminary report of the Scientific Committee, including the terms of reference for the work of that Committee, has been transmitted to IUCN for review.

Action Required

The Bureau registers its appreciation for the State Party's efforts to ensure a rigorous evaluation of the environmental impacts of the proposed industrial salt production project and requests the State party to provide a progress report on the work and findings of the Scientific Committee for the consideration of the World Heritage Committee, at its twenty-first session in December 1997.


21st extraordinary session of the Bureau in 1997:
At its twenty-first ordinary session in June 1997, the Bureau noted with appreciation the State Party's efforts to ensure a rigorous evaluation of the environmental impacts of the proposed industrial salt production facility at this site. The Scientific Committee, set up by the Mexican Government to carry out the environmental impact study of the project, had assured that the industrial salt production project will only be authorised if the Scientific Committee found that the project will not compromise the conservation of natural resources of the region and does not pose a risk to the protection of the biological heritage of the Mexican people.
The Bureau requested the Scientific Committee to keep the Centre and IUCN informed of its work to review environmental impact assessment, undertaken in accordance with the terms of reference set by the Scientific Committee, expected to be submitted by the proponents of the industrial salt production project. The Bureau took note of the communication of 14 October 1997 of the Government of Mexico, confirming that no new project for salt production at El Viscaino had been proposed since July 1996. The Bureau decided to recommend that the Committee request the Mexican authorities to keep the Committee informed of the work of the "International Committee for the Protection of El Viscaino" regarding the evaluation of any new project for industrial salt production.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1997

At its twenty-first ordinary session in June 1997, the Bureau noted with appreciation the State Party's efforts to ensure a rigorous evaluation of the environmental impacts of the proposed industrial salt production facility at this site. The Scientific Committee, set up by the Mexican Government to carry out the environmental impact study of the project had given assurance that the industrial salt production project will only be authorised if the Scientific Committee found that the project will not compromise the conservation of natural resources of the region and does not pose a risk to the protection of the biological heritage of the Mexican people. The receipt of a progress report of the findings of the Scientific Committee, requested for 15 September 1997, is awaited.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The Bureau may wish to examine the information that may be provided at the time of its session and take appropriate action thereupon.

Decision Adopted: 21 BUR IV.B.27

The Bureau recalled that the Committee, at its twentieth session (Merida, 1996) reviewed a report on a project for industrial salt production at the site and its potential threats to the site's whale population and noted that the project had not yet been authorized and that a Scientific Committee to review the proposed project had been established by the Ministry of Environment.

The Bureau was informed that the seven member Scientific Committee has elaborated, through consultations with the public, rigorous and comprehensive terms of reference for its work and for the environmental impact study of the proposed San Ignacio industrial salt production project. The Scientific Committee is expected to document the actual situation of the World Heritage area prior to the commencement of the industrial salt production project, assess the impact of the project's proposed construction and operational activities on the ecological, biological and protected area management aspects of the World Heritage area and undertake a 26-issues driven socio-economic evaluation of the project. The Bureau was satisfied to note that the Scientific Committee, in its preliminary report, had indicated that the proposed industrial salt production project will only be authorized if the Committee finds that the project will not compromise the conservation of natural resources in the region and does not pose a risk to the protection of the biological heritage of the Mexican people.

The Bureau requested the Centre to transmit its appreciation for the State Party's efforts to ensure a rigorous evaluation of the environmental impacts of the proposed industrial salt production project and requested the State Party to provide a progress report on the work and findings of the Scientific Committee for the consideration of the World Heritage Committee, at its twenty-first session, in December 1997.

Decision Adopted: 21 COM VII.C.41

VII.41 The Committee noted the decisions of the twenty-first extraordinary session of the Bureau as reflected in the Report of the Bureau session (Working Document WHC-97/CONF.208/4B Section III.A.c), on the following natural properties: