A Joint Operation “Crackdown” in Akumal

On December 8, 2016, PROFEPA issued a press release-type post on the government website regarding a recent joint “crackdown” operative in Akumal Bay. (See translated article below)

The release outlines recent activities carried out by PROFEPA and SEMAR (Secretariat of the Marines) to monitor the infractions being carried out in Akumal regarding SEMARNAT-issued permits and environmental laws for the declared refuge.

While this crackdown and published details of these recent actions may appear as a positive step in the right direction, enforcement remains to be slack and inconsistent.

Yesterday’s press release indicates that the joint-operation stopped a total of 90 people from different tour operators (who did not have government authorization/permits) for entering the bay. However, what is perhaps more important are the details that were not published.

What was omitted from the report was that after the unauthorized 90 people belonging to at least two different tour companies left as requested, they quickly returned to the bay, split into smaller groups, rented equipment and hired guides with the cooperatives. The 90 people that PROFEPA refused entry for legal and environmental reasons still managed to enter the bay.

If the PROFEPA inspectors are truly focused in reaching their objective of preservation and conservation by “limiting the tourist influx so that it doesn’t jeopardize the sustainability of the site” why weren’t those 90 people stopped when they re-entered the bay with the cooperatives? Why were blinders put on the second time around? If 90 people from outside tour companies have an impact on the bay, don’t the same 90 people have an impact on the bay with a cooperative? The math is the same.

What is also interesting to note is the companies that have been listed as having violations are outside tour companies. Not one cooperative is listed. Yet, violations regarding SEMARNAT permits for daily numbers are being violated each day by cooperatives. Again, why have the cooperatives not been listed as offenders, when offences are taking place, some even being done directly in front of the PROFEPA inspectors on the beach.

Are the cooperatives above the law? Are the authorities being selective about who they apply the law to? The large tour companies should be curtailed, but the law should apply to everyone—dive shops, cooperatives, independents and large tour companies.

Until the law is applied equally to everyone, capacity limits are realistically set, and government officials stop lining their pockets with bribes and payoffs to turn a blind eye, the situation will only get worse.


Translated article from government website below. See Original in Spanish.


PROFEPA AND SEMAR CARRY OUT SECURITY OPERATIONS IN THE PROTECTED AREA OF SEA TURTLES IN AKUMAL

PROFEPA carried out an operation in Akumal Bay, Quintana Roo, which allowed for the removal of three tourist agencies for illegal operations and prevented the entry of 90 people to swim with turtles, without authorization from SEMARNAT.

  • They removed 3 companies for not having permission from SEMARNAT who sought to enter 90 people in the swimming area with Chelonya mydas (green turtle).
  • 13 tour operators breached a total of 128 administrative acts by operating without federal authorization, using fins and not respecting the limit of swimmers.

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (PROFEPA) carried out an operation in Akumal Bay, Quintana Roo, which allowed for the removal of three tourist agencies for operating illegally and prevented the entry of 90 people for swimming with turtles activities who did not have the authorization from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT).

The action was carried out with the support of elements of the Navy Secretariat (SEMAR) attached to the Naval Sector of Cozumel, allowed to add in the total of 13 companies sanctioned by this office with 128 administrative acts against it, during the year, for not respecting the rules established by environmental legislation.

In response to recent public and social demands from the PROFEPA regional office in Akumal and elements of the Navy found that retired agencies introduce more tourists, severely damaging marine corals and the turtles.

The federal inspectors of PROFEPA have verified the compliance of authorizations issued since July 2016 and that, failing them, national laws and basic principles of conservation and preservation of marine flora and fauna are contravened.

During the current year, PROFEPA issued 128 acts of violation to 13 agencies that operate without authorization, including: Ocean Tours Playa S.A. de C.V; Cancun Adventures S.A. de C.V; Blue Caribe Ecotours S.A. de C.V; Wild Ak Tours S.A. de C.V; Rogazzi Tours S.A. de C.V; Scuba Caribe S.A. de C.V; Jungle Maya; Maya Natures: Asun Adenture Akumal S.A. de C.V; Mayan Fantasy Tours; Maya Adrenaline; Ruta Maya and Apple Vacations.

The objective of the operation is to prevent the use of fins that severely damage marine corals, including; Elkhorn (Acropora palmata), Staghorn (Acropora cervicornis), and soft corals or sea fans; (Plexaura homomalla and Plexura dichotoma).

In addition to prevent the seagrass, which turtles feed on, from being stepped on and damaged, including, Thalassia testudinum,Syringodium filiforme and Halodule wrightii. Also, not to touch, harass, stalk or harm sea turtles classified as endangered according to NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010, which includes, the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).

It should be noted that the actions are due to the conservation of natural protected areas and commitments established, in compliance with the regulations, that marine resources are assets of the nation that must be preserved, as of the March 7, 2016 decree that made Akumal Bay a Refuge Area.

This area includes the marine portion located in front of the towns of San Miguel, in the municipality of Solidaridad and the towns of Akumal, Aventuras, Bahía Príncipe, Chemuyil, Xcacel-Xcacelito and Esperanza, all these in the municipality of Tulum.

That is why PROFEPA, in coordination with the Ministry of the Navy, responds to the protection needs of the national territory to avoid the depletion of natural resources.

The implementation of operations in Akumal Bay prevents actions that seriously jeopardize the sustainability of the site, so a tourist influx must be maintained according to the carrying capacity of the area, as well as the unique resources that are housed in it.

The joint inspection and surveillance actions in the Federal Maritime Land Zone and within the patrimonial sea with the support of the Secretariat of the Navy will be permanent to avoid the continuation of illicit actions being committed, since they must protect the marine ecosystems that contribute the ecological and unique wealth for the country.

It should be noted that the sanctions issued by the Office of the Attorney General will be qualified under the General Wildlife Law that establishes fines of up to 50 times according to a fine table, in addition to the corresponding criminal complaints that according to the Federal Penal Code could reach penalties from one to nine years in prison and from three hundred to three thousand day’s fine.

Snorkelers rescued in Akumal

We are sharing this post from Centro Ecologico Akumal on a recent rescue of snorkelers and additional safety tips for swimming or snorkeling in the bay.

You can find the original article on the CEA website.

Snorkelers rescued at the mouth of Akumal Bay

December 7, 2016

On Monday, December 5, 2016 at 2:30 in the afternoon, three snorkelers got caught in the strong outgoing current at the mouth of Akumal Bay and were rescued in a joint effort by the onsite lifeguard and a Dive Center boat manned by two Dive Center staff.

There were no serious injuries, however, one snorkeler was treated for minor abrasions.

The snorkelers, who rented snorkel equipment, told rescuers that they were not made aware of or briefed about the conditions and currents in the bay.

Without the trained personnel and their quick actions, the potentially dangerous situation could have ended quite differently.


BE SAFE AND SMART!
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE HEADING INTO THE BAY

While most companies or cooperatives operating snorkel tours in Akumal will also rent equipment, it is evident that not every outfit is providing full explanations, directives on the dynamics of the bay, or even the snorkeling guidelines.

Visitors to Akumal Bay who choose to snorkel independently with their own gear or with rental gear should become familiar with the following:

For those visitors renting gear, be sure to:

  • Get a full briefing from the rental provider (conditions, currents, flags, best practices for snorkeling). Both dive shops in Akumal include this briefing as part of the equipment rental process.

  • Ask questions if you do not feel the briefing was complete or clear.

  • Feel comfortable and confident with the gear you have rented.

And on top of everything, know your limits and abilities. While it is not mandatory to hire a guide, if you are new to snorkeling or don’t feel confident in regards to the conditions or currents, consider hiring a guide from a legitimate business who is experienced, licensed, first-aid qualified and insured.

“Laws are not being enforced for psuedo-guides” (PorEsto!)

November 11, 2016

The following is the translation of the article printed in the PorEsto! and published online. The original link is below.


poresto-november-9TULUM, November 9—A simple reprimand towards pseudo-guides who enter Akumal Bay with groups of tourists, without documentation and relevant  measures to give sea turtle tours is what has been observed by personnel from the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA).

And although it is obvious that they are trying to give the service without respecting the rules, the inspectors only write down  names and do not proceed with any sanctions.

There are several pirate guides who arrive with groups of about 10 people who intend to give the service, however, they have been detected by personnel of the federal agency that is in charge of reviewing everyone giving tours.

However, in spite of finding irregularities with these people who try to provide services, such as improper vests, snorkeling devices harmful to the environment, lack of documentation, permits and guide credentials, they are only being prevented from giving the service.

Likewise, people who pass as  guides, and that are impeded from doing their activity, leave tourists without knowing if they will get their money refunded they that they paid for the service.

In addition, permit holders working in the bay with sea turtle tours mentioned that there are foreign companies that send guides who do not have documentation, but are not sanctioned, even though they are about to break the environmental standards.

“It is a monitoring committee and PROFEPA staff who have been giving information to people who come about what they can and cannot do on the beaches, but the guides who are detected trying to give service without the permits and safety measures are only prevented from doing the tours and are reprimanded when they should be referred to the competent authorities for this fault,” said one of the cooperatives.

They also said that this makes them think that there could be corruption on the part of PROFEPA, who turn a blind eye to not inspect those who have the permits and for those who do not.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:
http://www.poresto.net/ver_nota.php?zona=qroo&idSeccion=2&idTitulo=517927


A FEW THOUGHTS…

Laws and consequences should be for everyone.  For those that have permits and do not adhere to their limits as well as those that have no permits. Those complaining now are quite possibly the same ones that exceed their SEMARNAT permits of 12 people per day.  PROFEPA should apply their mandate to everyone to “Seek environmental justice through the strict enforcement of the Law, banishing impunity, corruption, indolence and lack of authority…”

Along the same lines, earlier this week, PROFEPA were alerted to two men fishing in the ZRPA (Fish Refuge of Akumal) and no consequences given.

Reports of Disturbing the Peace in Akumal Grow

November 7, 2016

Akumal is not Playa del Carmen. There are no night clubs, music venues, late night restaurants or concerts held on the beach front. Beach partying is not welcomed, and in fact is not allowed. However, incidents of disturbing the peace in the evenings are regularly occurring in Akumal.

In the past week alone, there have been two separate incidents. In the first, a few guides from various cooperatives decided to stay on the beach in the evening to party with some tourists well into the early morning. The police arrived on the scene at 2 a.m. where they confiscated alcohol as well as a motorcycle. The tourists were taken away by the police.

Police confiscate alcohol and a motorcycle after reports of disturbing the peace on Akumal beach. Tourists were taken away by police.

Police confiscate alcohol and a motorcycle after reports of disturbing the peace on Akumal beach. Tourists were taken away by police.

The second incident occurred on Saturday, November 5th around 7:30 p.m. The group which consisted of some guides from the local cooperatives was asked to leave. After first arguing with the police, they eventually departed.

According to the Tulum municipality, any individual or group of any nationality disturbing the peace, night or day, will be asked to move on by the municipal police.

Security guards on Akumal Bay have been briefed on the rules by Tulum police to assist in maintaining the tranquility that Akumal is known for, yet police will be called to handle each incident.

Tour guide reported for harassment by tourists

November 7, 2016

Police confront tour guide from Tulum who was reported as following and harassing two female tourists from the entrance of Akumal to the beach.

Police confront tour guide from Tulum who was reported as following and harassing two female tourists from the entrance of Akumal to the beach.

On Saturday, November 5, two women made a report to the police about a man who was harassing and following them from the entrance of Akumal all the way to the beach. The women, who were not English or Spanish speakers, did not understood what the man was saying and grew fearful of his intentions as he followed them for up to 1 kilometer.

As it turns out the man was from Tulum and was offering independent snorkel tours in Akumal Bay.

The situation of harassing and following tourists is widespread. Not only have the local cooperatives hired people from the surrounding area to be present throughout the entrance way and beach, but independents come to the area to do the same, lured by the lucrative opportunity to conduct tours with turtles with no training and no licence.

As a recommendation, tourists should ask to see certification and permits before hiring a guide.