BELMOPAN, Fri. Mar. 26, 2021– A joint release from the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Management and the Ministry of the Blue Economy claims that relentless encroachers continue to raid the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve of its resources.
Within the Bacalar Chico National Park, vegetation continues to be cleared, while various species of game continue to be hunted. This series of illegal activities extends to the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve, where encroachers continue to fish illegally in this prohibited area. The ministries say that these activities in the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve (BCNPMR) area have become a pressing issue.
Under the National Protected Areas System Act, the Wildlife Protection Act, the Forest Act and the Fisheries Act, illegal activities like game hunting, fishing and land clearing in the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve are strictly prohibited and subject to prosecution.
The joint release from the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management and the Ministry of the Blue Economy says, “Persons conducting illegal activities within the Bacalar Chico National Park can be fined a maximum of $20,000 and/or sentenced to 2 years imprisonment. As it relates to penalties for illegal activities within the Bacalar Chico Marine reserve, persons can be fined up to $5,000.”
Protected Areas provide a safe haven for wild plants and animals. In addition, they maintain proper functioning ecosystems, and bolster the economy via ecotourism and sustainable fishing. Depletion of the resources in these areas would decimate the availability of food sources and impair the country’s resilience to climate change and land erosion.
Both ministries commended the concerned citizens of San Pedro that raised their concern about the situation to the authorities. The ministries are asking the public to report any such illegal activities to the Forest Department at 822-1524 or the Fisheries Department at 224-4552.