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The inclusion of the Cangrejo Shoals have been approved and the boundary in now included in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.  The Hol Chan Marine Reserve (HCMR) was established in 1987 to conserve a small but complete sample of Belize’s coastal and marine ecosystem. As other marine protected areas under Marine Reserve status, the HCMR is a multi-use area that allows for no-take marine conservation and controlled fishing activities. To accomplish this, the marine reserve has been divided into zones. The Reserve is now recognized as an important tourism product for the country of Belize. In view of this Government has reinforced its commitment to conservation of our coastal ecosystems by extending the protected area to include a vast area of sea grass meadows, flats and mangrove locally known as the Cangrejo Shoals. This area has been identified as an important nursery for lobster and conch and is an important fishing ground for fishermen of San Pedro and Caye Caulker. Additionally, the mangrove flats and shallow lagoons provide excellent opportunities for catch and release fishing tourism.

This new addition focuses on the protection of the mangrove islands and sea grass meadows.

This new addition focuses on the protection of the mangrove islands and sea grass meadows.

This new addition focuses on the protection of the mangrove islands and sea grass meadows. Traditional fishers are allowed to continue their fishing practice but spear fishing and the use of nets is prohibited. The HCMR has now more than tripled in size and covers an area of over 55 square kilometres of mangrove, sea grass and coral reefs. Through sustainable fishery and tourism the HCMR has provide the communities of San Pedro and Caye Caulker an important economic incentive to support conservation. Stakeholders’ participation has been vital to the success of this marine protected area. This was proven in the recent extension of the HCMR where fishermen and tour guides played a vital role in lobbying government for the inclusion of the Cangrejo Shoals into the Marine Reserve.

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