baby gray whale

Baby gray whale. Photo: Fernando Ochoa

Whale watching in the lagoons of Baja California is a trip of a lifetime.  For ELAW Fellow Fernando Ochoa, it’s just another day at the office.  We were thrilled to host Fernando at ELAW last week, and collaborate on his work protecting some of the world’s richest whale habitat from bad development projects.

A few years ago, Fernando and his colleagues celebrated a tremendous victory protecting whaleshark feeding grounds in the Gulf of California from plans for a marina and yacht club that would have spelled disaster.

Fernando says, “Tourist development should fit with the landscape, respect laws and land use ordinances, integrate the best interests of local communities, and respect the integrity and health of surrounding ecosystems.”

Fernando’s organization, Defensa Ambiental del Noroeste, is the highly respected legal arm of an integrated conservation effort that challenges short-sighted development plans, before they leave the drawing board.

Fernando Ochoa at Edison Elementary SchoolOn Thursday, fifth graders at Edison Elementary School in Eugene welcomed Fernando as part of “Ocean Week.” Fernando shared his passion for his work and photos of flukes and breaching gray whales, blue whales, Orcas, whalesharks, fin whales, and more.

Earlier in the day, Fernando met with laws students at the University of Oregon.  He inspired them with how he walks the talk.  One of the students wrote: “It is one thing to articulate an elegant legal theory about how the world can be saved.  It is a more impressive and more constructive endeavor to acquire the necessary skills and get to work making it happen.”

Thank you Fernando for making it happen!

Maggie Keenan
ELAW Communications Director