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The Pacific coast of Mexico
Botello, A.V.; Toledo, A.O.; de la Lanza-Espino, G.; Villanueva-Fragoso, S. (2000). The Pacific coast of Mexico, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 1. Regional chapters: Europe, The Americas and West Africa. pp. 483-499
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 1. Regional chapters: Europe, The Americas and West Africa. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 934 pp., more

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Document type: Review


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  • Botello, A.V.
  • Toledo, A.O.
  • de la Lanza-Espino, G.
  • Villanueva-Fragoso, S.

    The Mexican Pacific coast extends for about 8,000 km and covers eleven coastal states. It contains a large variety of coastal environments, derived from the interaction of diverse geological, biological, oceanographic and atmospheric processes. Because of its length, this description of the Mexican Pacific is based on seven important physiographic provinces, which together comprise a large number of coastal and marine environments dominated by particular oceanographic features (winds, currents, biological productivity , physico-chemical factors). The variety of coastal type has given rise to a very high biodiversity. Also, the different provinces play an important role in migration patterns of coastal and marine species; they are important nesting and breeding areas, and parts are rich for fisheries, energy production and natural and mineral resources. Dominant meteorological elements include annual tropical depressions due to the El Niño south oscillations (ENSO), which have marked effects on resources in that they provides the region with nutrient-rich water masses which greatly benefit the fisheries, mainly tuna. Around 14% of the Mexican population (12 million people) inhabit the coastal states of the Mexican Pacific, most of them concentrated in small and medium sized coastal communities. The most populated area is the northwest (six million) followed by the central provinces (five million), whereas the south province has around one million inhabitants. Very little industrial activity takes place on the Mexican Pacific littoral. Some of the more important industrial developments include giant salt exploitation sites in Guerrero Negro on the Gulf of California, agroindustrial and agricultural activities of the Imperial Valley of Mexicali and Northwest (Culiacan Valley), fishery processing industries of Guaymas and Mazatlán, and shrimp farms in Sinaloa. There are also some industrial harbours. The impact exerted by human activities has been caused by changes in the use of land, alteration of wetlands and coastal lagoons conversion of wetlands. Eutrophication of estuaries and coastal lagoons is important in several sites, as is loss of habitats due to large urban and tourist projects. There are 21 natural protected areas totalling about 4,600,000 ha. Also the country is party to several international agreements for the protection and management of marine and coastal resources. However, Mexico has not undertaken much definite action for the effective conservation and protection of coastal and marine resources, due to the lack of legal instruments, and poor co-ordination between different governmental levels.

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