Centro Ecologico Akumal (CEA)
Press Release - October 2011

CENTRO ECOLÓGICO AKUMAL (CEA)
MARINE PROTECTION

We would like to let the Akumal community know that Centro Ecológico Akumal (Akumal Ecological Center) is working hard on important environmental issues that will affect the future of this unique region, with a focus on establishing an officially protected marine area.

As you are all aware, the economy is suffering worldwide and the image of our area is being threatened by the perception of Mexico as an unsafe destination.

The property owned by the Ecological Center has a very strategic location facing Akumal Bay and it is one of the first properties that visitors see as they come into Akumal. CEA's property encompasses the land across from the Hotel Club Akumal Caribe as you come into the beach area, the space around the Plaza, the restaurants and shops, the dive shop, and the main CEA hall on the beach. It extends to the bay, up to the Federal Zone, for which CEA has the concession and legal responsibility to manage in the most ecological manner possible.

Our main conservation objective is to ensure the health of the marine and coastal ecosystems of Akumal; if the area is environmentally degraded and unsafe, visitors will not be able to enjoy its beauty and our local economy will be affected. Therefore, we have developed a project for our property that integrates these aspects for a more sustainable future.

We present here an overview of the project and we hope you will be as excited as we are about the improved esthetics of the entrance and the additional security measures that will be put into place, all the while ensuring that our destination provides a friendly and more ecological welcome to each and every visitor. This project will also give new life to the "Cancha" or Plaza vicinity that has been underused for many years.

In an effort to address the over exploitation of Akumal bay, over the past five years, CEA has developed a Bay Management Program, with the participation of the local dive shops, hotels and independent tour operators, as well as the Ministry of the Environment and Port Captain. We will not deny access to visitors or residents passing across CEA property to reach the bay. However, the remodeling of the property will ensure that there is control over illicit commercial activity by tour operators or individuals who bring snorkel tours to the main bay without obeying tourism, property and environmental laws.

There is no such thing as privatization of beaches in Akumal. The Federal Zone of the beach, by definition, is 20 meters from mean tide, and the concession holders who are the private property owners respect the laws and must ensure that everyone else does also. Commercial activities are not allowed in the Federal Zone. Authorized operators have agreed to follow the Bay Management Program rules.

We must make sure that all tour operators work within the law and the bay management program. CEA has worked with the operators to help them understand tourism and environmental laws, and gave them opportunities for training with the Port Captain and for improved tours to reduce impacts on sea turtles and coral. Although we provided every opportunity to continue operating within the management program, some operators still operate with disregard for tourism and private property laws. Likewise, each week, there are new, illegal tour operators entering the property and over-exploitation of the sea turtles in the bay.

We cannot return to the unregulated and unsafe practices in the bay, and the resulting deterioration of everything we have worked for. The success of the Bay Management Program depends on the participation of everyone attempting to do business in Akumal Bay, and on creating an official management tool that allows for tourism and protection at the same time. As part of this management program, we are also working to regulate the number of boats in the bay and their activities. Unfortunately, over the years, more and more boats have begun doing business in Akumal Bay, disturbing the tranquil swimming space and affecting the coral and sea turtles. We are working with the Port Captain, within the legal framework, to find a solution to this. Many of the boats are there illegally. They do not have permits or licenses to operate in the bay; they do not carry insurance for their tours and their captains do not all have licenses. There is also now an official moratorium on any new boats in the bay.

Today, there is illegal commercial activity in the Federal Zone, clearly violating the Concession for Protection that each property owner has. Today, we have unauthorized selling points throughout our private property, by individuals who use radio communications and approach visitors coming to enjoy Akumal. False tickets to nearby attractions are being sold. For visitor safety, selling will be done in appointed places, so that Akumal does not become like other locations where you are accosted by vendors on the street or on the beach. One of the main reasons people visit Akumal is for its peacefulness and safety.

Our program aims to resolve these issues. It is very important that the community understands our goals and how important it is to support our program for the health of the bay, the security of the area and its guests and residents, and the quality of our services and infrastructure.

We have a unique destination with incredible natural resources. The sea turtles in Akumal Bay are treasures to protect. Our goal is to preserve Akumal for future generations, by taking positive actions such as those defined in the Bay Management Program. Please join us.

Thank you.

Centro Ecológico Akumal
984-875-9095
www.ceakumal.org


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