Proposals for new natural reserves aimed at protecting marine life in northern Peru, in places such as Piura and Tumbes have come under fire from major oil companies.
The proposal was submitted to the government for review by Manuel Pulgar-Vidal Otaróla, Peru’s Minister of the Environment. The proposal aims at creating the Tropical Pacific Sea Reserve, this would give four maritime blocks protection from industrial fishing and create waste management regulation.
The area chosen for the project are considered the most bio-diverse with 70% of Peru’s marine species. Not only does this new idea prevent the destruction of the area but hopes to promote ecotourism through turtle and whale watching, development of beaches and water sports.
The idea however, is not welcomed by all oil companies’ fear that the creation of the reserve will affect offshore exploration licenses. Four major oil companies Karoon, Alfa Energy Group, Savia and Gold Oil all have been issued with offshore exploration licenses for that area by the government.
Environment minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal believes the fear is not warranted as the creation of the reserve will not affect oil exploration or drilling as the government has binding contracts with the oil companies mentioned previously.
For the reserve to go ahead oil companies need to be convinced that their investment is not in danger by new environmental protections. Public support for the reserve is growing and is well received by fishermen and tourists industries alike. This support also changed the mind of Tumbes governor Ricardo Flores who initially opposed the plan as it would prevent the construction of an irrigation project.
Nature and Culture International (NCI), an American nonprofit organization stated,“Despite its high levels of biodiversity and economic significance, this eco-region lacks legal protection and faces enormous threats including unsustainable fishing practices, industrial pollution and unmanaged tourism, posing an urgent need for its protection.”
The reserve has also received support from Mexican rock band Mana and American actor Ted Danson.