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Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino

Factors affecting the property in 1998*
  • Localised utilities
  • Marine transport infrastructure
  • Other Threats:

    Decline in sea animals populations

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Industrial salt production facility;
  • One mile-long pier construction
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1998
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 1998**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1998

The Bureau recalled that during 1996-97, the State Party, by establishing a Scientific Committee which set up stringent environmental conditions on the proponents of an industrial salt production facility, successfully averted threats which the construction of that facility could have posed to the integrity of this site. However, the Bureau was informed that IUCN and the Centre have received a large number of messages about threats to this site arising from a renewed consideration of the project for constructing an industrial salt production facility. Several of these messages include calls for declaring El Viscaino a World Heritage site in Danger. Moreover, IUCN has pointed out that new settlements are occurring in the area; increasing pollution and over-fishing are crowding out endangered and endemic species. There are indications of a decline in the populations of various marine mammals, shellfish, and sea turtles that are unique to the area. IUCN has recommended that a mission to the site be planned in 1999 to evaluate various threats to the integrity of the site and assess whether or not this site should be included in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Bureau was informed that a report had been received on 26 November 1998 and that IUCN and the Centre were not able to review this new information; however, the summary of that report indicates that the Government does not consider the site to be in Danger.

The Observer of Mexico informed the Bureau that it was the Mexican Environmental Agency (SEMARNAP) which established an International Scientific Committee that set up stringent guidelines for the environmental impact assessment for a salt production facility. He stated that there are no indications of a decline in the populations of various mammals, shellfish or sea turtles in the area.

The Observer of Mexico also informed the Bureau that the El Viscaino Lagoons are not in danger and that Mexico has a strong environmental legal framework, which regulates any activities in the site. His Government continues to take actions to reinforce environmental regulations to preserve the marine resources of the site and in particular, that the management programme has been concluded and that the reserve is included in the GEF programme for ten Mexican priority areas. He furthermore informed the Bureau that the grey whale population is recovering and that it has not been affected by the salt extraction. The Mexican Government has not authorised any construction project or extension of the salt production facility. The International Scientific Committee will review the EIA as soon as it is completed. This assessment will be essential for the final decision. In conclusion, the Mexican Government states that the site is not in danger, no proposal will be authorised which would jeopardise conservation of the site and that the World Heritage values will be conserved. In accordance with Article 11, par.4 of the Convention, there is no reason to include the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger. He indicated that an invitation of his Government to carry out a mission would be provided.

The Bureau noted that the State Party has provided new information and requested the Centre to transmit it to IUCN for review. The Bureau was pleased to note that the State Party, upon receipt of IUCN comments’ on the report would invite a mission to the site as soon as possible. The Bureau requested that the mission should prepare an up-to-date state of conservation report on the Whale Sanctuary of El Viscaino, and submit it to the twenty-third session of the Committee in 1999.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1998
22 COM VII.27
Reports on the State of Conservation of Natural Properties Noted by the Committee

VII.27 The Committee noted the decisions of the twenty-second extraordinary session of the Bureau as reflected in the Report of the Bureau session (Working Document WHC-98/CONF.203/5) and included in Annex IV on the following properties:

  • Heard and McDonald Islands (Australia)
  • Shark Bay, Western Australia (Australia)
  • Wet Tropics of Queensland (Australia)
  • Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)
  • Iguacu National Park (Brazil)
  • Dja Faunal Reserve (Cameroon)
  • Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks (Canada)
  • Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area (China)
  • Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area (China)
  • Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area (China)
  • Los Katios National Park (Colombia)
  • Morne Trois Pitons National Park (Dominica)
  • Nanda Devi National Park (India)
  • Whale Sanctuary of El Viscaino (Mexico)
  • Royal Chitwan National Park (Nepal)
  • Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal)
  • Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman)
  • Huascaran National Park (Peru)

The Committee noted that the Bureau's decision reflected the suggestion to establish an informal contact group on mining and World Heritage and that the IUCN "Draft Policy on Mining and Protected Areas" will be circulated.

  • Kamchatka Volcanoes (Russian Federation)
  • Virgin Komi Forests (Russian Federation)
  • Skocjan Caves (Slovenia)
  • Thung Yai-Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries (Thailand)
  • St. Kilda (United Kingdom)
  • Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)
  • Durmitor National Park (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)

The Committee noted the UN official name for the State Party: Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

  • Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe)

No draft Decision

Report year: 1998
Date of Inscription: 1993
Category: Natural
Criteria: (x)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 22COM (1998)

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.