Expanded Hol Chan Marine Protected Area


Feb 25th 2015.

The Hol Chan Marine Reserve has increased in size following the launching of the expansion of the reserve. The inaugural event took place on Wednesday February 25th 2015.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve was officially declared a reserve in 1987, and at the time included 18.1 square kilometers. In 2008, the reserve was expanded to include seabed, mangrove hatchery areas and grew in size up to 55.4 square kilometers. After five years of work, the marine reserve has expanded with the addition of 359 square kilometers of reef, sea, shoals, lagoon and wetlands added to the reserve.  The project was the brain child of San Pedro Tourist Guides Association, the Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development, the Ambergris Caye Wetlands Committee and the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. 

The expansion will include four additional areas. The largest of the four areas is Zone E referred to as the Bajos General Area. It will also be the largest of all eight zones that will now form a part of Hol Chan and accounts for a total of 330.6 square kilometers. Zone E has been further subdivided into I – Bajos General Use Zone, II – Cayo Pajaro Conservation Zone , III- Bajos Conservation Zone, IV – Cayo Rosario Conservation Zone, V – Blackadore Conservation Zone and VI – Los Salones Conservation. Zone E borders the current boundaries of Hol Chan to the south and then runs along the leeward coastland of Ambergris Caye up to Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve. To the west and north, it runs up to the mainland near the Bomba Village Lagoon entrance then northwards to the Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

Zone F consist of Cayo Frances Conservation Zone which encompasses 13.5 miles of lagoon, cenotes and interconnected wetland area. It is located within the inner part of northern Ambergris Caye starting from the Grand Belizean Estate Road heading northwards along private resorts ending by the Social Security Board property. The area serves as a hatchery and home for thousands of juvenile reef fish and is also used for sport-fishing.


June 24, 2013

You can have a look at the added files of the maps of proposed additions of Mexico Rock’s, Los Bajos and Mata/Cayo Frances Lagoon.  These 3 areas will be annexed to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and will be managed Hol Chan.  Plans are that shortly the documents will be signed by Cabinet for the process to begin.

Press Release: Ambergris Caye Wetlands Committee
Ambergris Caye Conservation Initiative 2011 Concept paper for:

Mexico Rocks Marine Reserve, Bajos Marine Reserve Mata/Cayo Frances National Park
Public Consultation – January 05, 2012 at the Lion’s Den at 6 pm.

The ACCSD along with other organizations including Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Tour Guide Association, BTIA, San Pedro Business Association, Green Reef, and the ACLBA have come together to form the Ambergris Caye Wetlands Committee (ACWC).  The ACWC’s goal is to facilitate the process that will result in the creation of a protected areas network in Ambergris Caye that will guarantee sustainable management of our coastal resources for future generation and for the betterment of our island.  Through this committee and with your support we will be able to accomplish this and make it a success!

After much work and consultation with marine experts, business community, relevant authorities we have completed a concept document.  This press release marks the start of our public consultation process with all relevant stakeholders.  We encourage all to participate in the process and to contribute creative and meaningful ideas to improve this work in progress.

The proposed protected areas are as follows:

  • Mexico Rock’s Marine – total proposed area 8.75sq milesThis new area will be an exclusive recreational area.  On the map we can identify the red lining as the NO TAKE ZONE and the blue lining is the General Use Zone.  Access will be given to the traditional users for them to continue their usual activities.  This is to benefit both fishermen and tourist guides.  The size of the of the NO TAKE ZONE is proposed to be 1.5 sq.  miles (1 mile running along the reef and 1.5 miles running east to west from the outer fore – reef.).
  • Bajos Proposed Marine Reserve – total proposed area 135 sq milesThe Bajos proposed area is designated as a marine reserve with zoning for catch and release fishing The proposed site encompasses a total area of 135 sq.  miles of shallow semi contained marine shoals called the Corozal Bay.  This area includes nine small islands and five shoals which are vital habitats for the islands fisheries for schooling tarpon, permit and bonefish which are key target species for sport fishermen.
  • Cayo Frances/Mata Frances LagoonThis proposed area will be a National Park and will encompass the Cayo Frances and Mata Lagoons.  This area has served as the route for the annual Reef /Lagoon Eco-challenge and recreational uses including catch and release sport fishing.  This area will provide proper management actions to protect the few remaining mangrove wetlands on the island.

This concept paper was presented to the Hon.  Min.  Manuel Heredia Jr.  on December 15th and he is in full support for these projects.  Amendments will be made to this document as we move along this consultative process.  The Hon.Minister is in the process of submitting the copies of the concept paper to the relevant Ministries for consultation.  It has been agreed that a Public consultation will be held on January 05, 2012 at the Lion’s Den at 6pm to present the concept paper to the local community for their input.

Attached are the maps of proposed protected areas.  A full copy of the concept paper will be available on the ACCSD website – http://www.accsdbz.com


ACCSD Executive Committee
Ambergris Caye Citizens for Sustainable Development
63 Barrier Reef Drive
San Pedro Town, Belize


HCMR Press Release HCMRInvitation


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