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Stakeholders who gathered at the San Pedro Lions Den on Tuesday, August 21, 2012, to participate in a public consultation regarding a new marine reserve for Ambergris Caye, came to a mutual consensus and totally supported the draft proposal.

The consultation was held by Ambergris Caye Wetlands Committee that invited Mr. James Azueta of the Fisheries Department who updated the community on the progress of the proposed Ambergris Caye Marine Reserves Cluster that includes nine established zones in three general areas namely the Bajos, Mata Frances Wetland Lagoon and the Mexico Rocks.

Mr. Azueta went over all the laws, rule, regulations and license fees that would be implemented in the new reserves. The meeting gave the opportunity for stakeholders to review the draft proposal and submit suggestions and objections towards the new proposed reserve.

Proposed Clusters Marine Reserve in Ambergris Caye, Belize

Zone 1 – Mexico Rocks Conservation Zone
Zone 2 – Mexico Rocks Gereral Use Zone
Zone 3 – Cayo Frances Conservation Zone
Zone 4 – Bajos General Use Zone
Zone 5 – Pajaros Conservation Zone
Zone 6 – Bajo Conservation Zone
Zone 7 – Cayo Rosario Conservation Zone
Zone 8 – Blackadore Large Conservation Zone
Zone 9 – Los Salones 2 Conservation Zone

The zoning and rules of the new marine reserve will be similar to that of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve which will include general use zones and conservation zones which will determine where commercial fishing, general use, sports fishing take place and determine no take zones and where different governing licenses will fall into place in order to properly monitor and protect the area. What is clear is that commercial fishing shall be allowed in the General Use Zones, but no spear fishing will be permitted within all the marine reserve.

The presentation was only on the proposed draft of the reserve and will have to pass through law so that the marine reserve status can be obtained and proper management established. Including the Mexico Rocks area into the marine reserve is a very positive step to protect the area which has been in proposal ever since the Hol Chan Marine Reserve was established, but never integrated into a reserve. Now that that the area will be joining the reserve clusters, it makes it more feasible to have the Mexico Rocks area made into a reserve.

Present at the consultation meeting as President of the San Pedro Tour Guide Association, Billy Leslie, who full supported the proposal on behalf of the organization and offered to extend some suggestions to the committee.

Work now commences to pass the draft proposal and fully establish a new marine reserve for the county of Belize in order to continue properly managing and protecting our natural environment.

Proposed Clusters Marine Reserve in Ambergris Caye, Belize

Mr. Miguel Alamilla of Hol Chan Marine Reserve gives an overview of the new proposed Clusters Marine Reserve

Proposed Clusters Marine Reserve in Ambergris Caye, Belize

Stakeholders listen to the presentation by Mr. James Azueta of the Belize Fisheries Department

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Dorian Nuñez

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