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Migration route

Map of gray whale migration route

Gray whales travel thousands of miles each year to Laguna San Ignacio in Baja California -- the last undisturbed birthing and nursery grounds for these magnificent marine mammals. More than 300 other animal species also make their home in the area, which is considered so ecologically valuable that the United Nations declared it a World Heritage Site, and Mexico created a "biosphere reserve" to protect it.

Yet this is the spot that Japan's Mitsubishi Corp. and the Mexican government chose for what would have been the largest salt plant in the world.

NRDC and its partners, particularly the International Fund for Animal Welfare, fought the plans for five years, meeting and negotiating 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.

"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 NRDC senior attorney Joel Reynolds, one of the leaders of the fight.

More than a 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 telling the company why.

On March 2, 2000, Mitsubishi and the Mexican government announced that they would abandon plans for the massive industrial salt plant. The decision was a victory of monumental proportions for the NRDC-led coalition of environmentalists, fishermen, scientists and consumers -- as well as the threatened gray whales and other marine species.

last revised 3/3/2000

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