Playa del Carmen reef system protection agreement in place
One of the many beautiful aspects of living along the Riviera Maya is the barrier reef system. This system is one of the reasons the area has pristine beaches and world-class snorkeling and diving and is a huge contributing factor to why people buy real estate here.
These reefs provide critical habitat to thousands of species as well as numerous benefits to nearby human communities, including shoreline protection from the hurricanes that regularly ravage these waters.
These shallow reefs also provide some of the best Caribbean scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities to be had anywhere in the world. Lately, environmental awareness studies have found that the reef system around the Playa del Carmen area was in critical condition.
The reason for the poor reef condition was the ill-treatment of local waste water being returned to the sea. Many years ago, Mexico signed the Cartagena Protocol which is a set regulation on how waste water should be treated before entering the sea, however, the protocol was not being followed and the local reefs were undergoing considerable damage.
Today, however, an agreement between Healthy Reefs Mexico, the organization that promotes the treatment of waste water along the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Association of Hotels of the Riviera Maya, was created to report and mitigate reef damage.
“The agreement will create health reports of the reef system every two years. The next report will be in 2017 from monitoring data in 2016.
From there we can create a progress report on the actions that are being made to improve the health of the reef, as agreed upon by the Association of Hotels,” said Marisol Rueda Flores, coordinator for Healthy Reefs Mexico.
The database that the Hotel Association of the Riviera Maya has generated through the Program for Sustainable Hospitality and Tourism Initiative Mesoamerican Reef (Marti), will be made available to Healthy Reefs and will join other projects including the System Mesoamerican Reef (SEM).The agreement also provides the organization with a source of scientific data that the hotel organization can use to help improve their environmental impact on the area.
Paredes Manuel Mendoza, director of the Association of Hotels, says this agreement may be the key to promote the study of reefs and necessary changes to keep the marine environment healthy.
“This agreement will provide a legal framework to fill gaps in opportunities to generate greater monitoring, and to request that authorities adhere to reef best practices through legislation. It is important to face these challenges,” he said.
The agreement, which was signed by Rueda Flores and Andrea Lotito, vice president of the Association of Hotels, says their agreement has no expiration date and will provide an opportunity to increase the monitoring of the 86 Healthy Reef sites which are supported by other 60 organizations.
Among Mexico (Quintana Roo), Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, where the Mesoamerican Reef extends, also monitor 248 reef points.