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Feb 20, 2015

Hol Chan Reserve Expansion Approved

Shark Ray Alley, Cangrejo Caye, Bacalar Chico and the Hol Chan Marine Reserve have been designated as protected areas on Ambergris Caye. This past Tuesday, cabinet finally moved to approve the expansion of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. For years the management of the reserve has proposed the expansion which would include a forty acre plot of lagoon and wetlands in an area known as Sunset Cove. But last year it came to light that the pristine area was to be subdivided for distribution as house lots. The revelation caused a huge public outcry and Tourism Minister Manuel Heredia withdrew that proposal. Well, the good news tonight is that a statutory instrument will be officially signed by the Minister of Fisheries, Forestry and Sustainable Development, Lisel Alamilla on February twenty-fifth in San Pedro to put into effect the expansion of the reserve. Heredia Junior says that there will be benefits both to the private and public sectors.

 

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“It’s about leadership working together with the private sector to make things happen. And when you do that kind of thing, you can never go wrong. The stakeholders are the ones that know what they want, the minister is the one to legislate so I do what my job calls for; working together with the people to legislate.”

 

Reporter

“Mister what took so long? I remember this proposal to expand Hol Chan Marine Reserve was sitting before cabinet for three years.”

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

“I wouldn’t say three years—probably close to two years yes—but the reason is this. When there is a draft of anything that is done, it is brought to cabinet and many times it goes back again to revisit because particular ministers or particular persons would make representation that this is not in the best interest of their area. If you see this one, it was very ambitious…all the way almost to the other coast of Bomba and that area. Particularly Minister Castro had some concerns that it would affect the livelihood of the fishermen over there. I think in the dredging part of it, the geology minister had a particular [concern]. What will happen if developers want to dredge and so. And so we had to look at all those areas including my ministry. I had a little concern as to the fees. We had to redefine the boundaries which didn’t affect drastically the proposal so after all that was done and everybody was happy, then cabinet had no objections this Tuesday to say let it go, let it be. I believe that again, the tour guides, tour operators, hoteliers have been clamoring for this to happen. This will enhance the catch and release a lot more. It will enhance also the bird watching.”

 

The Hol Chan is the biggest marine reserve that expands far north to meet the Corozal Bay Reserve.

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