Boundaries and Regulations



The boundaries of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve are marked by buoys. Signs, informing divers that they are entering a protected area, are erected at either end of the reserve near the reef crest.

This is a brief summary of regulations governing the water of the Park. It is not intended or designed to provide include complete laws, rules, and regulations in this summary does not relieve persons from abiding by those laws, rules and regulations.


The reserve has been divided into four management zones, Each zone has specific regulations:

Zone A -- The Reef (Cut)

  1. No fishing or collecting is permitted;
  2. Do not disturb or remove any flora or fauna;
  3. No persons shall cast or drag any anchor in such a way as to damage coral reef formations;
  4. Visitors shall first obtain a ticket from HCMR Office or from the ranger on duty before engaging in any water activities;
  5. All boats operating in this zone shall obtain registration from the Administrator;
Zone A includes the reef and is covered with almost every type of coral found in the Caribbean. Here there are plenty of grouper, but it is the green moray eel, found in the small caves alongside the wall of the channel, which really catch the eye. The morays have become used to divers and are often hand-fed, which sometimes has led to some careless divers being inadvertently bitten when fingers and food were indistinguishable to the moray. Feeding the morays and fish in general is also controversial because as the fish come to expect handouts, they cease to hunt for themselves.

Zones B and C -- The Seagrass Beds (Lagoon) and The Mangroves

  1. No spearing or netting of fish is allowed in the Boca Ciega Blue Hole;
  2. Fishing can only be carried out under special license;
  3. All boats used for sport fishing shall obtain registration from the Administrator;
  4. Sports fishermen shall obtain tickets from the reseve office before engaging in any fish activities;
  5. The plants and wildlife on the mangrove cayes are not to be collected or disturbed;

Additional Rules and Regulations

  • No person shall mark or tamper with any sign, buoy or notice installed by the Administrator.
  • Eight divers/snorklers per guide. When more than eight, one diver must join the group in the water.
  • No touching or standing on corals.
  • No feeding or touching of fish.
  • Do not use gloves in reserve's waters.
  • Use dive flag when people are in the water.
  • Do not litter.
  • An unexperienced snorkeler must wear a life jacket.
  • The fisheries Regulations 1977 shall apply within the reserve.

FAILURE TO OBSERVE REGULATIONS WILL RESULT IN A CONVICTION AND FINE. The fine will be a minimum of $ 1,000 or 6 months of imprisonment or both).

Zone B is an area of sea grass where turtle, conch and even the remarkable little sea horse are found. Spotted eagle rays and stingrays of alI but the largest sizes are also here. There is a little-known blue hole called the Boca Ciega Blue Hole in this zone. This sinkhole, which opens into a larger cavern, is dangerous and not recommended for diving.

Zone C comprises the mangroves. These are a feature of almost all the cayes found inside the reef. They provide a home for a large population of juvenile fishes which remain in the safety of the networks of mangrove roots and trunks until they are large enough to survive in open water. indeed, the entire marine reserve is a fine example of three completely different areas which are interdependent. Creatures from both the mangroves and the reef feed on the sea grass. The reef receives nutrients from both the other areas. Minute organisms originating in the mangroves may be blown offshore and become part of the plankton which attracts such pelagics as the manta ray and the whale shark.

Additional Rules

  1. No person shall mark or tamper with any sign, buoy or notice installed by the Administrator.
  2. Eight divers/snorklers per guide. When more than eight, one diver must join the group in the water.
  3. No touching or standing on corals.
  4. No feeding or touching of fish.
  5. Do not use gloves in reserve's waters.
  6. Use dive flag when people are in the water.
  7. Do not litter.
  8. An unexperienced snorkeler must wear a life jacket.
  9. The fisheries Regulations 1977 shall apply within the reserve.

FAILURE TO OBSERVE REGULATIONS WILL RESULT IN A CONVICTION AND FINE fine will be a minimum of $ 1,000 or 6 months of imprisonment or both).

OPEN HOURS:
Zone "A" 06:00 to 21:00 Daily
Zone "B & C" Open 24 hours.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve Boating Safety
  • Approach the patrol boat and clear your tickets before engaging in any water activities.
  • Use extreme caution when approaching the Hol Chan Channel. The concentration of snorkelers and divers in this area poses a greater potential for accidents. Be sure to look keenly for bubbles and the tips of snorkels on the surface of the water.
  • Motor slowly, in deep water, until a mooring buoy is selected. Idle directly to the buoy without meandering among other dive boats. Reverse this procedure when departing from the area.
  • If a mooring buoy is not available, anchor in the seagrass bed and be sure that your anchor chain or line does not contact any coral formations.
  • Boaters, stop at least 100 yards from a "Divers Down Flag" and watch for bubbles.
  • Glass-bottom boat operators should wait until the channel is completely free of snorkelers and divers before motoring through the channel.
  • Bow riding is an unsafe boating practice. Do not allow your passengers to hang out of the boat while underway.
  • Drinking and driving do not mix.
  • Use caution when approaching a weed line. Large floating debris often found within the weed can cause damage to your prop or lower unit.
  • Steer clear of marker buoys in the reserve.
  • Every commercial and non-commercial vessels shouId carry a fire extinguisher, a first-aid kit and communication equipment.
  • Lastly, do enjoy your visit to the reserve and consider the safe boating tips outline above.
Water Safety
  • If it has been a while since you have SCUBA dived or snorkelled please let your guide know. He will assist you in attaining self confidence and practice.
  • Make sure you follow the group and never astray by ownself.
  • Ask your guide about the currents or anything you may not be sure of. Be sure that you do not use faulty equipment.
  • Take a buoyancy device if you are not sure of yourself in the water.
  • Never interfare with any marine fauna or flora as these may cause harm to you just as you can cause harm to them.
  • Do not take any organic matter to feed the fish as these may attract sharks and barracudas which can cause harm.
  • Never attempt to do what may not be within you capabilities. e.g. swim long distances if not physically fit.

HOL CHAN MARINE RESERVE
SAN PEDRO TOWN, AMBERGRIS CAYE
BELIZE, CENTRAL AMERICA
E-Mail: Hcmr@btl.net
PHONE # 011-501-226-2247
FAX # 011-501-226-2420

Boundaries of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve
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