Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Fisheries Department address surveys in Zone C

On October 31st 2020, the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development (ACCSD) brought to the attention of the general public that surveys had recently been completed for two parcels within Zone C of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. We would like to thank the concerned citizens for their continued vigilance on behalf of the Reserve and the Ambergris Caye Community.

Survey plans showing two parcels of (5.24 and 5.95 Acs.) inside of Zone C of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Document indicates that this was requested by GOB and done on 1st of September 2020 (Barely a month ago).

Hol Chan Marine Reserve through its parent organization, the Belize Fisheries Department, has confirmed that the survey parcels lie within Zone C of the Reserve and will continue to follow up on this matter since such surveys are illegal as per the Hol Chan Marine Reserve S.I 2015 which stipulates the boundaries of Zone C. The Commissioner of Lands has assured Hol Chan that these survey entries will be cancelled. Hol Chan is monitoring this situation closely and is opposed to any leases or private ownership in this ecologically important area that supports the livelihood of our stakeholders.

These two parcels are located in an area known as the "Cangrejo Shoals" or "Siete Canales" and is an important fly fishing spot for bonefish, permit and tarpon. Also the deep channels are home to the endangered manatee.

We greatly commend and appreciate the prompt response from the management of Hol Chan Marine Reserve. They have confirmed that the survey plans are actual and through the Belize Fisheries Department, The Lands Department has assured that these survey plans will be cancelled.

We will continue to monitor this event until survey parcel entry is Cancelled.

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Survey Entries within the Hol Chan Marine Reserve’s Zone C canceled

The good eyes of the island citizenry brought to the attention of local environmental authorities the apparent surveying of two parcels within the Hol Chan Marine Reserve’s (HCMR) Zone C off the southern end of Ambergris Caye. The team at HCMR, through its parent organization, the Belize Fisheries Department, reached out to the Lands Department, who could not offer much explanation other than assuring the cancellation of such survey entries.

It is unknown how and why the survey took place within a marine protected area. According to unofficial information, the survey was conducted by a surveyor who should have known that it is illegal to do such work within a marine reserve. The 2015 Statutory Instrument governing the reserve made it clear that such activities are illegal within the boundaries of the marine protected area’s respective zones. The San Pedro Sun made several attempts to determine what went wrong or if there was a mistake, but our calls went unanswered.

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