Following a fierce five-year battle between local communities, environmental groups and the government, Malaga Bay on Colombia’s Pacific coast is set to be granted full national park status, ending one of the toughest environmental battles in recent years, reports El Espectador.
To the surprise of local groups, the government decided to ensure the preservation of the area, which is one of the most bio-diverse places in Colombia, and is the seasonal home of humpback whales.
Each year between 500 and 800 whales travel up to 8,000 miles to the warm blue waters of the equatorial Pacific, where Malaga Bay offers the perfect environment for giving birth to the young.
The major opposition to the national park has been a group of Valle del Cauca businessmen, who wanted to construct a port in the area.
In May Colombia’s Environment Minister Carlos Costa said that a decision on the future of the bay would be made before the end of the Uribe administration in August, and thought that a solution could be reached that satisfied all parties.
“There will be a park; I have said so in every possible scenario … What we are discussing is if it is possible for both things [park and port] to exist. As the minister of environment, I can’t ignore the voices of the Governor of El Valle, of ANDI, and the Chamber of Commerce. This decision affects the entire region and the entire country,” Costa said.
Residents of the local fishing communities, who want the area to be protected and developed to attract eco-tourism, have in the past complained of being excluded from the discussion between city politicians and organizations.