Hol Chan Marine Reserve management is planning to set up new regulations for filmmakers and underwater photographers at the Reserve. The new rules seek to prevent any potential damage that may be caused to the reef and marine life within the said protected area during such activities. This decision comes after a social media post by a local tour operator alleges that on November 3rd, while filming at Hol Chan, a film crew hired by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line behaved carelessly and caused damage to the Belize Barrier Reef.

Hol Chan management investigated, and according to the Reserve’s manager Miguel Alamilla, it is too early to say how much damage was done. “We are still working on it, trying to measure the damage that may have been done,” he said. “We are also trying to inspect all of the areas where this activity occurred in order to come up with some conclusions.” However, Alamilla indicated that the film crew had all the legal permits to be onsite and that the safety diver should have played a bigger role in monitoring the situation. “The safety diver is the person in charge of overseeing the activity and make sure everything goes well,” Alamilla explained. “At any given point, if he noticed that for some reason the crew was not complying with his instructions, he had the authority to stop the dive immediately,” Alamilla added that at times they cannot be onsite due to limited human resources, however, in such cases, the tour guide is in charge and responsible for the divers and the environment.

Alamilla further explained that in order to avoid any future incidents, film crews will now have to apply directly to Hol Chan for approval. “We are working on that service so they can make all the arrangements with us,” he said. “In the case of underwater photographers and videographers, we will do a background check on them to find out if they have the sufficient experience and responsibility to carry on these types of activities.” In addition, he said that for future groups of this kind, when approved, they will try to have a member of their staff onsite to monitor such activities. A date was not given when the new regulation will be implemented.

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