PlusNews visit Blue Hole with Marine Protected Areas Manager

vlcsnap-2013-05-20-19h45m20s162Our news crew was on a tour of the Blue Hole Natural Monument and surrounding seas this weekend. They came across an instance of the Belize Audubon Society (BAS) acting in its co-management role on the issue of fisheries. A team of fishermen were in the area between the Blue Hole and Northern Two Caye operating. While they were on the right side of the law, except for one of the fishermen not possessing a commercial license on demand – the offender claimed it had been damaged – there have been instances of illegal operations by both Belizeans and Mexican, Guatemalan and Honduran vessels. Marine Protected Areas Manager Shane Young is a licensed special constable with powers of arrest for offenses committed in the two natural monuments. He took us through the procedure behind meetings like these.

Shane Young – Marine Protected Areas Manager:
vlcsnap-2013-05-20-19h44m39s7Yes, it is a concern, because normally the Captain is liable, and so we could charge him jointly, and it’s important to have the captain in the case of an emergency.
Those are conchs, the legal size conchs.
Everything was in order. 

Earlier, Young explained the kinds of threats Belize Audubon Society regularly sees in the area and the day to day operations it carries out as co-manager.

Shane Young – Marine Protected Areas Manager:
vlcsnap-2013-05-20-19h44m16s64The day to day operation include tourism management, enforcement, and marine research that the Belize Audubon Society conduct within Lighthouse Reef Atol.  The Blue Hole is a famous dive site, well known for its geological feature, a world-wide famous dive site, and we have a lot of visitors coming to this place. On average we talk about 12 thousand people per year.  It’s only important that Belize Audubon Society and the Government of Belize ensure that this place is protected.  We have heavy visitation, as I mentioned earlier, and the reason is because it’s an unique feature.  It’s a part of the World Heritage site, this along with Half Moon Caye Natural Monument.
Blue HoleIn terms of threats, the site is a Natural Monument so it’s a strictly no-take zone.  No fishing is allowed, only recreation, scientific, and research can occur within the protected area.  So the Belize Audubon Society ensure that we are obliged to the National Park System Act and the National Monument Status.

Audubon is also monitoring turtle development in protected areas.

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