Bacalar Chico SI signed

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 17            May 3, 2001

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Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Hon. Daniel Silva officially signed into law the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve and National Park Statutory Instrument (SI) last Thursday. Years ago, zoning was proposed for designated areas inside this marine reserve/national park to be used for a specific purpose in order to preserve this national treasure, designated a World Heritage Site in 1997. World Heritage Sites are chosen based on certain criteria, such as having a high degree of bio-diversity, and are usually afforded total protection from environmental degradation.

    According to sources at the Fisheries Department, now that the SI has been signed into effect, these zones can now be monitored, and activities controlled and enforced within their boundaries by Bacalar Chico park rangers. The zones listed are: 1) Preservation Zone - an area of the marine reserve along the border with Mexico that runs east to the reef and then south, which has been set aside specifically for research. No fishing or recreational activities are permitted here. 2) Conservation Zone I will function as a recreational area. 3) Conservation Zone II will be used as a "catch and release" fishing area. 4) General Use Zone exclusively for fishing (no gill nets or spear fishing allowed). 5) Seasonal Closure Zone - an area designated for the spawning and aggregation of grouper fish.

    Joining Minister Silva at the signing of the SI were representatives of Fisheries Department, Bacalar Chico staff and Advisory Committee, the Northern Fisherman's Cooperative and various non-governmental organizations.
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