Motorized watercraft (small boats, motorized paddleboards) and recreational equipment of that nature are no longer allowed to operate within the Secret Beach area, which is within the Hol Chan Marine Reserve (HCMR). In the case of jet skis, these will have to be registered with the HCMR and will only be allowed to transit through the area. These regulations became necessary to guarantee safety, while protecting the natural marine habitat, from the negative impacts the unregulated activity of said motorized vessels can cause.
The measure came as an enforcement to the Fisheries Regulations, 2015, which prohibits motorized watercraft within a marine reserve. An initial meeting was held in March of this year with a follow-up session later in September at Secret Beach. Issues and concerns were raised by stakeholders and others in attendance. The presence of water sport activities is allegedly affecting the fly-fishing tourism sector, and persons swimming near the beach are at risk of getting injured. It was discussed that a decision would be made regarding whether they would be allowed to continue operating in the reserve and if they were allowed, under what conditions. These involved the usage of jet skis and motorized vessels within the reserve.
These regulations are an effort to avoid the disturbance of natural habitats for species like Bone Fish and Permit, which supports the multi-million-dollar fly fishing industry. The use of these motorized watercraft can stir up sediments, which can be detrimental to the flats where these native marine species live. Paredes indicated that the decision also helps in preventing potential accidents from occurring as tourists and residents flock to the area in large numbers, particularly on weekends.Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun