By Roberto Carballo, Reef Currents
Each reserve has a manager, a marine biologist, rangers and a caretaker. Environmental monitoring and education is done on a monthly basis and such activities vary depending on the month. In addition it is also the duty of each member of staff to educate the public and visitor about the fisheries and reserve regulations.
Furthermore, on a daily basis the reserve team is challenged with its greatest responsibility which is enforcement. In order to carry out this responsibility two major resources are required which are a boat and fuel. Fuel allocation is limited and as a result the team has to use this precious resource wisely. Enforcement is necessary due to the fact that without the presence of an officer one tends to engage in illegal activities. Illegal activities include fishing out of season, harvesting undersized product, fishing within no take zones and illegal fishing by foreigners. Some fishermen now even study the time when officers might not be in the area and this is the period where they tend to get themselves involved in illegal activities. It has even gone so far that fishermen have even bought dive lights and fish illegally at night.
One of the major enforcement issues at Bacalar Chico has been Mexicans fishing within the protected zones and this is due to the proximity to the international border. The staff at Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve is now going the extra mile with patrols focused early in the morning and at times late in the evening to confront this problem. The staff has also planned to discuss the issue with the Port master, the reserve staff at Xcalak and the Mexican military providing pictures of the boats and crew seen in the area. Some solution has to be found for this problem.