Hol Chan Marine Reserve

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Chapter 4. ECOLOGICAL CRITERIA

(Guidelines and Criteria Section B/ Ecological Criteria) Nominated areas must conform to at least one of the eight ecological criteria. Describe how the nominated site satisfies one or more of the following criteria. (Attach in Annex any relevant supporting documents.)

Representativeness:


The HCMR was established to conserve a representative sample of the Belize coastal and marine ecosystem. Initially 1813 ha. in 2008 it was expanded to over 5400 Ha. to include a more representative sample of seagrass and mangrove wetlands. Coral Reef: The HCMR has two zones located on the Barrier Reef. Zone A is completely notake and only recreational activities are allowed. This area is comprised of 273 Ha. of coral reef including back reef, reef crest and fore reef area. Zone D is also on the barrier reef and has approximately 200 Ha. of coral reef. This a multiuse area and only within the exclusive recreational area of Shark and Ray Alley is no-take. Sea grass beds: The sea grass beds are found in zone B of the marine reserve and cover an area of approximately 2160 Ha. This is a general use zone and fishing is allow to traditional users only. Spear fishing and the use of nets are prohibited. Mangrove Wetlands: Mangroves are included in zone C of the HCMR and consist of about 2370 Ha. with several mangrove island.

Conservation value:


The main fauna population in the marine reserve marine including fish, Cnidarians and other invertibrates. Commercially valuable species include various species of fin fish, spiny lobster and queen conch. Also found at the marine reserve are the endangered manatee and marine turtle including the hawksbill, logger head and green turtles .

Critical habitats:


Wetlands: West Indian Manatees live amongst the channels of the mangrove islands and feed on the seagrasses growing in that area. Due to its protection, manatees are more frequently sighted within the marine reserve. Manatee sighting have been reported even in the barrier reef. Coral Reef: Various endangered species can be found here including marine turtles. Three species are common inhabitants in this area and include the Hawksbill, Logger Head and Green Turtles.