By Paloma Valdivia

Over 10 years ago Don Carlos Cañez Tiznado (D.E.P.), Public Official and active board member of the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans, had a dream that the beaches of Puerto Peñasco would be recognized and acknowledged for being clean and beautiful. This dream was finally realized as a result of arduous work over many years. This dream became a reality at the beginning of 2017 when a segment of Sandy Beach was awarded ‘Certification for Quality Clean Beaches, Level II, Recreational modality, in accordance with the standards established by the Mexican Institute of Normalization and Certification (IMNC). This certification was promoted by Puerto Penasco’ s Clean Beaches Committee, which CEDO is a member of; it lasts for two years and covers 1500 meters of beach, from the Hotel Playa Bonita to the Las Palomas Development.

Certification of beach quality is a voluntary process, achieved by correct use and conservation of the beaches, and by actions to protect the image of high quality national and international tourism. There are different beach certification methods used throughout the world. In the case of Sandy Beach it was certified under the Mexican regulation NMX-AA-120-SCFI-2006, which establishes 58 requirements and specifications of sustainability for beach quality. These requirements are grouped into four categories: 1) Quality of Services, 2) Sanitation Quality, 3) Quality of Environmental Performance, 4) Quality of Security. In November, 2016, two authorities on certification for the IMNC visited Puerto Peñasco and did a field review to evaluate the compliance with the requirements of the standards (Figure 1 and 2).

The auditors’ results showed that 41 criteria were rated adequate; 8 were considered “Not Applicable”, and 9 were considered “Inadequate” (technically considered “Non Conformities”). The most relevant “Non Conformities” were related to the Quantity of Solid Waste, Fecal Matter (primarily from dogs), and Dangerous Waste (primarily glass), found on the beach during the field audit that was conducted to evaluate the beach cleaning results (Figures 3 and 4). The lack of public access or a program for the Management of Solid Waste were the categories that were considered inadequate by the auditors. A Plan of Corrective and Preventative Actions to resolve the Non Conformities was presented to IMNC within the 30 day deadline following the audit, as required.

At a Town Hall meeting in early 2017, Puerto Peñasco received IMNC’s favorable decision for certification (see appendix 1). Sandy Beach was recognized as a Level 2 Certified Beach (see table in appendix 2). The Certificate and a banner were presented to the Mayor of Puerto Peñasco, Lic. Ernesto Roger Munro Jr. by the IMNC in a ceremony in March of 2017 (Figures 7-9).

This certification is an example of what can be achieved when all three levels of government, the business sector, and the academic and non-profit sectors work together and combine their ideas and resources to achieve a common goal: the certification of a beach in Puerto Peñasco.

The first step is completed. What comes next is for the various sectors to continue working together to complete the proposed programs and action plans for the final validation of this certification and to maintain it for the future.

In the next issue of the CEDO E-News we will present results from a study of biodiversity on Sandy Beach, which was one of CEDO’s primary contribution for the certification, with financial support from CONAGUA.