If a large, conspicuous mammal can be left out of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), this calls the entire process into question.
Veracruz is a 147m tall dam which planned on the Marañón River. In 2009, Compania Energetica Veracruz S.A.C. published an Environmental Impact Assessment for the Veracruz Dam project which was approved in 2014. We have confirmed a surprising omission from this report, that it makes no mention of the Neotropical River Otter, Lontra longicaudis, ‘Lobito de Río’ or Nutria.
Lontra longicaudis populations have suffered so much from habitat destruction and poaching that it is listed a
s near threatened according to the IUCN Red List. In specific areas of Central and South America the otter is listed as threatened and has had measures for its protection in place since the 1990’s (1).
On the Marañón Waterkeeper Patrol in 2015, we found footprints of this otter in several locations along the Marañón river, in the vicinity (both upstream and downstream) of the Veracruz dam project. These footprints were positively identified by a Peruvian biologist, making it clear that the Neotropical Otter will be impacted by the planned Veracruz dam. It was not difficult to locate these footprints on the beaches of the Marañón, and members of our group even saw several otters on the river bank before they quickly disappeared into the river. This raises huge concerns about the entire EIA process and what else may have been omitted, that is not so obvious.
In 2013, Generalima—a subsidiary of the Spanish energy giant Endesa itself a subsidiary of the multinational Enel—acquired Compania Energetica Veracruz S.A.C and full control over the Veracruz project. To our knowledge no further E.I.A. has been published.
The Amazon is one of the most complex ecosystem on the planet; how can these companies claim to adequately assess what the impacts will be, when they fail to inlude (either deliberately, or through incompetence) a detail as obvious as this.
Marañón Waterkeeper calls for an independent Strategic Environmental Evaluation for the entire Marañón River. To begin leading this process, Marañón Waterkeeper is searching for funding to complete a Longitudinal Aquatic Biodiversity Inventory along the entire Marañón River from the source lakes at 4200m, down to its mouth at 100m above sea level.
Contributing Author & Investigator: Zef Egan.
- Mammalian Species No. 609, pp 1-5, Lontra Longicaudis, Serge Lariviere, American Society Mammalogists.