The boundaries of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve are marked by buoys.
Signs, informing divers that they are entering a protected area, are
erected at either end of the reserve near the reef crest. Below is a brief summary of regulations governing the water of the Park.
The reserve has been divided into three management zones, and each zone has specific regulations.
Zone A -- The Reef (Cut)
- No fishing or collecting is permitted;
- Do not disturb or remove any flora or fauna;
- No persons shall cast or drag any anchor in such a way as to damage
coral reef formations;
- Visitors shall first obtain a ticket from HCMR Office or from the
ranger on duty before engaging in any water activities;
- All boats operating in this zone shall obtain registration from the
Zones B and C -- The Seagrass Beds (Lagoon) and The Mangroves
- No spearing or netting of fish is allowed in the Boca Ciega Blue
- Fishing can only be carried out under special license;
- All boats used for sport fishing shall obtain registration from the
- Sports fishermen shall obtain tickets from the reseve office before
engaging in any fish activities;
- The plants and wildlife on the mangrove cayes are not to be
collected or disturbed;
Additional Rules and Regulations
- No person shall mark or tamper with any sign, buoy or notice installed by the Administrator.
- Eight divers/snorklers per guide. When more than eight, one diver must join the group in the water.
- No touching or standing on corals.
- No feeding or touching of fish.
- Do not use gloves in reserve's waters.
- Use dive flag when people are in the water.
- Do not litter.
- An unexperienced snorkeler must wear a life jacket.
- The fisheries Regulations 1977 shall apply within the reserve.
FAILURE TO OBSERVE REGULATIONS WILL RESULT IN A CONVICTION AND FINE. The fine will be a minimum of $ 1,000 or 6 months of imprisonment or both).
- Approach the patrol boat and clear your tickets before engaging in any water activities.
- Use extreme caution when approaching the Hol Chan Channel. The concentration of snorkelers and divers in this area poses a greater potential for accidents. Be sure to look keenly for bubbles and the tips of snorkels on the surface of the water.
- Motor slowly, in deep water, until a mooring buoy is selected. Idle directly to the buoy without meandering among other dive boats. Reverse this procedure when departing from the area.
- If a mooring buoy is not available, anchor in the seagrass bed and be sure that your anchor chain or line does not contact any coral formations.
- Boaters, stop at least 100 yards from a "Divers Down Flag" and watch for bubbles.
- Glass-bottom boat operators should wait until the channel is completely free of snorkelers and divers before motoring through the channel.
- Bow riding is an unsafe boating practice. Do not allow your passengers to hang out of the boat while underway.
- Drinking and driving do not mix.
- Use caution when approaching a weed line. Large floating debris often found within the weed can cause damage to your prop or lower unit.
- Steer clear of marker buoys in the reserve.
- Every commercial and non-commercial vessels shouId carry a fire extinguisher, a first-aid kit and communication equipment.
- Lastly, do enjoy your visit to the reserve and consider the safe boating tips outline above.
- If it has been a while since you have SCUBA dived or snorkelled please let your guide know. He will assist you in attaining self confidence and practice.
- Make sure you follow the group and never astray by ownself.
- Ask your guide about the currents or anything you may not be sure of. Be sure that you do not use faulty equipment.
- Take a buoyancy device if you are not sure of yourself in the water.
- Never interfare with any marine fauna or flora as these may cause harm to you just as you can cause harm to them.
- Do not take any organic matter to feed the fish as these may attract sharks and barracudas which can cause harm.
- Never attempt to do what may not be within you capabilities. e.g. swim long distances if not physically fit.