Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Note: The data were entered in the language of the country of origin (English, French or Spanish) and there is no translation available yet.


a - Legal and policy framework (attach in Annex a copy of original texts, and indicate, if possible, the IUCN status)

National status of your protected area:

The site that is currently the Hol Chan Marine Reserve was a traditional fishing site for residents of San Pedro Town.  In May of 1987 the area was officially established as the Hol Chan Marine Reserve under the fisheries act and management through a statutory body legally create by the government of Belize to manage the affairs of the Marine.

IUCN status (please tick the appropriate column if you know the IUCN category of your PA):

The Hol Chan Marine Reserve can be classified under IUCN category II and is not designated under any international conservation category.

b - Management structure, authority

The HCMR was establish under the Fisheries act and management is through a statutory body legally create by the government of Belize to manage the affairs of the Marine Reserve.

Stakeholders are included as members of the HCMR Board of Trustees.

Local community representatives include a representative of the local tourism sector, a representative of a local NGO, a representative of the local business community, a representative of the fishermen's cooperative and the Mayor of San Pedro Town.

Participants in other committees or bodies such as a scientific committee, advisory board or a body of representatives from the local stakeholders, the public, the professional and non-governmental sectors.

c - Functional management body (with the authority and means to implement the framework)

Description of the management authority

The HCMR was declared a Marine Reserve under the Fisheries Act, Chapter 210 of the laws of Belize. Statutory Instrument Number 57 of 1987 designates the area to be the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Statutory Instrument Number 107 of 1988 sets the regulation that are to be applied to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Legislation was amended in 1999 with Statutory Instrument Number 100 of 1999 to expand the protected area and include a section called Shark Ray Alley. The legislation was amended again in 2008 to expand the protected area to more than three times its original size.

Statutory Instrument Number 170 of 1994 established the HCMR Board of Trustees which is responsible for the efficient administration of the affairs of the Reserve.

Means to implement the framework

Fishing had been the main source of income for residents however it was unregulated and unsustainable. With the introduction of the fishermen cooperative in the 1960’s fishing was more commercialized and fishing in the nearby reefs intensified. The 1970’s saw the emergence of a small tourism industry. Tourist came to fish and snorkel the barrier reef. Gradually tourism grew and there was a demand for tour guides. This gap was filled by fishermen.

The area that is now Hol Chan was identified as a site for a protected area since the early 70's but it was not until the 1980's when fishing started to have conflicts with tour guides. The tourism sector requested that a portion of reef be set aside and protected for the benefit of tourism. That same year the Hol Chan received a $150,000.00 USD grant for the first three years of operation.

Available staff: Assess the adequacy of the human resources available to the management body, in number of employees and training level, both in central headquarters and in the field. Indicate if there is staff training programmes. Currently the HCMR has a total of 16 staff members including seven Park Rangers, a biologist, an environmental educator, three technical assistants, two office assistants, an administrative assistant and a manager. Staff are adequately trained. The manager has a Master's Degree, the biologist is about to complete her Masters Degree program. In addition staff members are training as dive instructors, outboard engine mechanics and graphic design.

We have from time to time volunteer and student that assist the staff of the marine Reserve.

Present financial means: Most of the funding for its operations is generated from a user fee levied to foreign visitors to the marine reserve. Each foreign tourist to the reserve pays a fee of $10.00 USD per person per day. Special projects, especially for the education program, are funded through grants.

Basic infrastructure and equipment:

  • Office and/or laboratory in the field
  • Guard post on the main accesses
  • Visitors information centre
  • Terrestrial vehicles
  • Marines vehicles
  • Radio and communications
  • Environment awareness materials
  • Capacity to respond to emergencies


d - Objectives (clarify whether prioritized or of equal importance)

Objective Top priority Comment
Zoning No
Regulations for each zone No
Governing body(s) No
Detailed management objectives No

e - Brief description of management plan (attach in Annex a copy of the plan)

The HCMR has a management plan that is currently under revision.

Management plan - date of publication

: not specified

Management plan duration

: not specified

Date of Review planned

: not specified