Audubon Society monitors Blue Hole Marine Protected Area

400 feet deep and dived by the likes of Jean-Jacques Cousteau, home to dead bodies (one, to our knowledge) and dead civilizations, the Blue Hole is first and foremost a symbol of Belize. Its waters are dived nearly every day by visitors to our shores and they rave about its natural wonder. PLUS News got an up-close and personal look at the deep blue waters with Belize Audubon Society’s manager for marine protected areas, Shane Young.
Shane Young – Marine Protected Areas Manager:
vlcsnap-2013-05-22-18h17m57s132This place was actually land, and what had happened is the sea level rise and the cave collapse. So people come to dive because of the geological feature.  What you can find is that 120 feet is stalactites and stalagmites.  Also there’s a variety of marine wild life that you can fine in the Blue Hole, in particular the sharks, Caribbean shark, is quite common in there, and people come to see the shark, and dive along with the sharks, and at the same time have that cave experience in the marine setting.

According to Shane Young, BAS takes seriously the issue of fishing in a no-take zone, which the natural monument is.

Shane Young – Marine Protected Areas Manager:
vlcsnap-2013-05-22-18h17m39s186Because the site is a natural monument it’s a [restricted area.] We do have an issue with fishermen coming in and trying to take a chance and fish within a protected area.  One of the weakness in the system is because the fines are petty.  We’re talking about $100 for a first offense.  So if we could strengthen that National Park System that could have been so easier for us.  But the time and effort put into it, factoring, and when compared to the charge, to the fine, levied against these individuals, it’s quite slim. But nonetheless the Belize Audubon Society is committed to the work that we’ve been doing over the past 40-plus years, and we continue to assist in co-managing these protected areas on behalf of the Government of Belize and, most importantly, the Belizean people.  At the end of the day this is Belize.  This is what we call Belize.  

The interview was conducted aboard the “Papa Tomas,” the  61–foot dive boat owned by Amigos del Mar agency which was in the area conducting a tour. We thank them for their assistance with this story.

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