Baja unveils plans for major "underwater park" off its coast

The first artificial reef in Mexico's Northwest seas will be south of Rosarito

Baja unveils plans for major
Right to left, image shows Fransico Ussel, President of Baja California Artificial Reefs Foundation; Diplomatic Corps Rearadmiral, Jorge Manuel Sainz ; State Tourism Minister, Oscar Escobedo and Rosarito Mayor Silvano Abarca. Photo: José Luis Sánchez/SanD

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ROSARITO.- Six years of hard work, lobbying and passion for the sea have finally given way to the Rosarito Underwater Park, or Parque Sumarino Rosarito, a project that includes both the sinking of an old Mexican Navy battle ship and several other investments meant to attract diving tourism to Baja California.

Officially unveiled to citizens, businessmen, government officials and the media , the project is the brainchild of engineer Francisco Ussel, the first of its kind in Mexico. Its creation is meat to help in the conservation of marine species while at the same time, building a new type tourism venue off the coast of Baja California, with hopes of having 100,000 visitors each year.

Ussel explained that 70% of the world's oxygen supply is produced in the oceans, highlighting the importance of maintaining it in optimal conditions. This artificial reef will provide a protected area for marine species to reproduce in. He also presented a video explaining the benefits of the Underwater Park and the artificial reef:

VIDEO : What is an Artificial Reef? From the Baja California Divers Association

The Park will be created by sinking a decommissioned Uribe-class patrol boat, Uribe 121,donated by the Mexican Navy. The ship was based in Manzanillo and is being towed to Baja, scheduled to arrive this Sunday, February 9th. Once it reaches the the Port of Ensenada, it will be cleaned so as to minimize damage to the environment.

There will also be some modifications that are need in order for divers to visit the are, such as lighting, removing doors, more orifices, and other changes to the structure.

Organizer are confident of the Park's success, especially with over 20 million certified divers worldwide. All they need are 0.5 percent of them visiting the region in order to mark the project as a success. Each diver invests double of what a golf player does in his or her activities, which is why the Rosarito Underwater Park will also generate resources for the state, besides supporting other areas in tourism, like hotel occupancy and nearby restaurants.

The Underwater Park will also help scientific research in the region, with major involvement expected from the Ensenada Scientific Research and Higher Education Center, or CICESE. The Baja California Divers Association was in charge of exploring the coast for preliminary studies and its work has been essential for making the project a reality.

Silvano Abarca, mayor of Rosarito Beach, noted that with the creation of the Underwater Park, the region's economic and tourism offerings will be strengthened and increased. Stressing also that the community's initiative lined-up with the city's vision of a clean, beautiful and secure Rosarito.

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