通商白書 平成13年5月




Natural Resources Defense Council

Whale Nursery Saved
Coalition stops Mitsubishi from building a saltworks at Laguna San Ignacio.

Mitsubishi and the Mexican government announced on March 2, 2000 that they are abandoning plans to build a massive industrial salt plant in southern Baja California. The Mexican government had proposed to construct the saltworks in partnership with the Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan at Laguna San Ignacio, the last undisturbed birthing and nursery grounds of the gray whale. The decision, which came unexpectedly, is a victory of monumental proportions for an NRDC-led international coalition of environmentalists, fishermen, scientists and consumers that has been fighting the saltworks with protest, negotiations and consumer action.

"This victory represents a triumph of an empowered citizenry over one of the world's most powerful companies," said NRDC senior attorney Jacob Scherr. "Through emails and newspaper ads, we were able to galvanize people all over the world."

The gray whales travel thousands of miles each year to winter and breed in Laguna San Ignacio. More than 300 other animal species also make their homes in the area. The area is considered so ecologically valuable that the United Nations declared it a World Heritage Site and the Mexican government created a "biosphere reserve" to protect it. Yet this is the spot Mitsubishi chose for what would have been the largest salt plant in the world.

"This is one of the most significant environmental decisions of our generation, not just for Mexico, but for the world," said NRDC senior attorney Joel Reynolds. "As a world heritage site, a biosphere reserve, a whale sanctuary and a migratory bird refuge, Laguna San Ignacio is the worst place on the planet for industrial development," said Reynolds.

NRDC and our partners -- particularly the International Fund for Animal Welfare -- used many tools in the five-year battle to save the whale nursery. We met and negotiated with Mitsubishi executives and Mexican government officials. We appealed to the United Nations World Heritage Committee. We watchdogged the progress of the saltworks plan and reported on the harm caused by another nearby salt factory. And we brought the full force of world opinion and consumer power to bear on Mitsubishi and Mexico.

But without the efforts of the phenomenal number of NRDC members and others who took action, we could not have achieved this stunning victory. More than one million people sent petitions, letters and emails to Mitsubishi demanding that the company give up its plans to industrialize Laguna San Ignacio. Still others made their wishes known by refusing to buy Mitsubishi products and letting the company know why.

We share our joy in this victory with all those of you who helped us to achieve it.