action needed tagged posts

WARNING: Swimming with Turtles in Akumal Bay

A joint warning from the Tulum Hotel Association, Riviera Maya Hotel Association and the Hotel Association of Cancun and Puerto Morelos was issued and published in Novedades and PorEsto! newspapers today, June 2, 2017.

The following is a translation of the warning message.

 

Warning: Swimming with Turtles in Akumal Bay

The General Directorate of Wildlife (Dirección General de Vida Silvestre), a unit of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), authorized various individuals and cooperatives to conduct guided swimming tours with turtles. The permits were granted without verifying or requiring that the service providers and their tour guides had proper instruction or training, such as swimming abilities and water rescue procedures. It was not verified that these individuals had the necessary infrastructure to properly and safely provide this service,  nor was it confirmed if they had insurance coverage in case of accident and/or damage. Neither did they verify if these individuals have criminal records. These omissions have resulted in fatal accidents!

The Tulum Hotel Association encourages visitors, national and international, to verify that the service providers of their choice comply with the following minimum conditions to ensure their safety and promote the sustainable development of the Bay of Akumal:

  1. Tour guides accredited by Secretariat of Federal Tourism as “Tour guides for the interpretation of nature, specialized in swimming with turtles, under NOM-TUR-009-2002”.
  2. Liability and medical insurance in the event of an accident.
  3. Showers so that clients can rinse off before entering the water, since  sunscreens and other chemicals have been proven to damage marine species.
  4. First aid equipment, and trained and certified personnel.
  5. Municipal Operating Licences.

Help us promote safety and sustainability in Bahia de Akumal / Akumal Bay

DEFYING THE SUSPENSION ORDER; CHALLENGING THE AUTHORITY

Earlier today several local cooperatives took guided snorkeling tours in Akumal Bay, despite the ongoing temporary suspension and the suspension notice  clearly visible on the beach.

Guide from local cooperative walks his “snorkel with turtle” tour guests past military patrol, PROFEPA and suspension notice sign

The authorities were apparently  taken off guard and started documenting evidence. They were unable to stop this activity although they followed them into the water. Some tense interactions on the beach with the rest of the guides had the military standing by.

Profepa officials were seen on the phone, but they did not get the guides to desist, although they eventually stopped on their own. This seems to be a brazen act of rebellion and lack of respect for the authority, unless something else is happening here.

In addition, cooperatives have been taking tours in after Profepa staff leave at 5pm, and as of yesterday, the Profepa staff were doing overtime and left at 7pm. We hope to get some clarity about this situation soon.

Public Security Agency invades private property

The following article titled, “SP invade propiedad privada” appeared in PorEsto! on March 17, 2017. The following is a translation of the article with additional images.

The original article can be found at: http://www.poresto.net/ver_nota.php?zona=qroo&idSeccion=6&idTitulo=546737

 

Violating the rule of law, the Municipal President, Romalda Dzul Caamal, orders the police to invade private property in the bay of Akumal, by placing a module of the Police agency. The lawyers are preparing to submit the corresponding formal complaint. The fact that a municipal authority in the course of his functions and attributions enters a property without authorization or attempts to dispossess a private individual involves serious crimes for the public servant, in this case the person in charge of Public Security: accused the defending legal party. Javier de Anda Morales, lawyer and legal adviser of Club Akumal Caribe, explained that without prior notice, without authorization, without notice, the Public Security staff headed by General Director Gabriel González Ornelas arrived in an inappropriate manner.

“They are overlooking a lot of information about the scope of their functions and attributions that causes such action, because if the place where they placed the module was a public access, they would already have had it under their control, without the need for an agreement from Town Council, he said. So it is that a tow truck transported the module of information and surveillance, and was set down inside the property, which belongs to the Club Akumal Caribe, trying to dispossess a private individual, which implies a violation of fundamental rights and human rights. “Obviously such an action constitutes an act of dispossession, on the part of the municipal authority headed by Romalda Dzul and against private property and a hotel, the relevant thing is that the module is placed just at the entrance of the hotel and the first view of the hotel is the Public Safety module, “he said.

The mobile police module enters Akumal and is parked on private property without notification or permission.

The lawyer recalled that a complaint was filed in the past on September 5, 2016, since on that occasion individuals with a tractor, entered the property and destroyed several palapas, claiming an alleged public access to the beach, although it has been stated that in that part there is no public access.

“However, such an act was done after an agreement of the Town Council, agreement that is in the courts, being totally illegal and that it is a confiscatory act, because without having any legal basis or proof, they go and say that it is a public access, being that in the PDU, it is not marked a public access, not even close to the property of Club Akumal Caribe, “he said.

He further explained that the Public Ministry has issued an “Immediate Response” order to the Public Security Agency, who instead of complying with the order, which was never called for by the complaining party anyway, now have placed a module saying that it is to somehow to protect the security of the people, in which it is not agreed since it implies the violation of the rights of the one that has possession, and implies the dispossession of a property. “As is now the case of the Club Akumal Caribe, unfortunately it is considered a political issue rather than a legal one and precisely, instead of bearing the political obligations, which would in any case be respecting property rights, they are protecting a series of individuals, violating property rights of a hotel that generates many jobs, “said the lawyer. At the same ceremony Armando Couto Chevert, representative of Akumal Caribe, recalled that on August 31, 2016 they were stripped of part of the property, where individuals destroyed part of the facilities to make an access to the beach, after stating that it is an access, but by no means has it ever been public.  At this point, individuals are still there day and night standing guard, intimidating the hotel staff.

After this action of last Thursday of the invasion by a module of Public Safety, the director was asked to remove the unit to another location, who only said that they would verify, and it is currently the front view of the hotel property.

The aggrieved party shall submit the corresponding complaint, putting the facts before the knowledge of the authority, who must determine whether or not it is, nevertheless, consider that any irruption to a private property without authorization, as in the above cited, constitutes a crime.

Suspension continues amidst pressure from tour operators… but for how long?

Akumal is at a very important and critical crossroads at this moment and the community as a whole has a unique opportunity to play an important role in helping to shape it’s future.

LaIMG_2266st month PROFEPA took action and temporarily suspended the snorkel with tour activities for groups—an action that deserves commendation as the bay cannot sustain the current levels of commercial activity.

However, the government is now being pressured by the local cooperatives and guides to reinstate their commercial permits. While the language of the official statement published by PROFEPA on February 15 is vague concerning permits and how qualifications for them will be determined, they do maintain their commitment to carrying out the effective monitoring and enforcement by qualified inspectors supported by federal authorities. The decisions of the authorities must be based on research, facts, scientific data and precedent with a focus on a sustainable future for Akumal Bay in the forefront.

If, however, the government surrenders to the pressure from the commercial groups and reissues permits without defined limitations and consequences, a comprehensive management plan or controlled entry/exit point to monitor the number of guests, Akumal (its ecosystems, safety and security) will be put at risk again.

Knowing that in order to create sustainable solutions that balance the economic needs of the local community with environmental impacts, guides and cooperatives should and will be part of that picture. But should that picture and future include no properly managed oversight of the people entering, tour groups, or policies? No consequences for violations and infractions? Should the welcoming image to Akumal remain as we have seen and not be improved and maintained?

Some things for everyone to consider:

  • Do you wish to see the local cooperatives set up shop again and continue sales efforts along the entrance to Akumal?
  • Do you think that the snorkel sales shacks constructed along the roadway give a welcoming impression to Akumal?
  • Do you think that the tourists enjoy being stopped by the vendors when driving into the community or walking in from the highway?
  • Is it acceptable for the authorities to allow the tour guides and cooperatives to use these haphazardly  installed snorkel sales shacks as their legal place of business?
  • Do you think that the authorities should continue to look the other way as the cooperatives and informal groups use the private property of other businesses and properties as well as the federal zone to promote and conduct sales and use it as a set up area for their tours?
  • Do you think that the authorities should legitimize and recognize all the new and “splinter” cooperatives that have popped up and are merely opportunists cashing in on the easy snorkel tour dollars? (The numbers are rising. At last count there are 59 groups, while only 20 had legal permits up to December 31 of this year).

Important Points that Need to Happen

  • the authorities must consider waiting to issue the permits until after the management and capacity limits are set so that permit holders have clear rules, laws and not just recommendations.
  • the authorities must finally realize the best option is to work with the property holder that can offer the infrastructure that is needed to allow commercial activity to happen and in a sustainable manner.
  • the authorities must limit the operating permits to those that have the proper installations or access to them. Those permitted and their guides must carry licences, be insured and have proper training including basic water safety, first aid and CPR. Operating permits should first be considered for qualified, legally established cooperatives and their guides that are from Akumal first and foremost.
  • the authorities must recognize that self-regulation by aggressive, sales-motivated guides or other representatives from cooperative groups has not worked—guides cannot be conducting business while monitoring the numbers of entries of their colleagues and friends. Alternative solutions must be found to monitor, educate and control the number of groups entering on a daily basis.

As these next developments move forward, there is a lot at stake for the stability of the entire Akumal community and with that comes some degree of concern for its security as well.

Many of the local tour operators have visited the offices of the Congress of the State of Quintana Roo and the President of the Municipality of Tulum to have their concerns heard and appeal the PROFEPA decision. They maintain that many families have now been financially affected due to this action and they are now victims of desperate economic hardship.

The redistribution of operating permits will soon be a reality that will hopefully coincide with a properly managed and enforced bay management plan. Meanwhile it has been documented that the business of snorkel tours at locations such as Yal Ku Lagoon and Half Moon Bay, have dramatically increased since the very day that the government suspension was enacted.

This very well may be one of the most critical times where the collective voices, ideas and opinions from all residents, long time visitors and guests must be heard by the various authorities. If you are in support and agreement with any of what you have read here or want to express and share your views with the various authorities and be a part of shaping the future of Akumal, please use the links below for communication. Let your voice be heard by letting the authorities know how you feel as well as how sustainable long-term solutions are essential.

Contacts

Secretaría de Tourismo (SECTUR), Enrique de la Madrid Cordero
(National Secretary of Tourim)

Gobernador Constitucional del Estado de Quintana Roo, C.P. Carlos Joaquín González
(Governor of Quintana Roo)
despachodelejecutivo@qroo.gob.mx
carlos.joaquin@carlosjoaquin.com
molivares@qroo.gob.mx,

Secretario de Gobierno, Mtro. Francisco Xavier López Mena
(Secretary General of the Government)
secretaria.gobierno@qroo.gob.mx

Secretaría de Finanzas y Planeación de Q. Roo, C.P. Juan Vergara Fernández
(Ministry of Finance and Planning of Quintana Roo)
secretario@sefiplan.qroo.gob.mx

Secretaria Estatal de Turismo, Lic. Marisol Vanegas Pérez
(Ministry of State Tourism)
marisol.vanegas@qroo.gob.mx
marisol.vanegas@carlosjoaquin.com

Secretario de Seguridad Publica, Lic. Rodolfo Del Ángel Campos
(Ministry of Public Security)
mercurio@sspqroo.gob.mx
secretariosp@sspqroo.gob.mx

Fiscal General del Estado de Q. Roo, Mtro. Miguel Angel Pech Cen
(Attorney General of the State of Quintana Roo)
despacho.fiscal@fiscalia.qroo.gob.mx

PROFEPA
El Procurador Federal de Protección al Ambiente, Guillermo Haro Bélchez

(Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection)
SEMARNAT 
Secretario de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Rafael Pacchiano
(Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources)
CONANP
Comisionado Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas, Lic. Alejandro del Mazo
(National Commission for Natural Protected Areas)

 

Akumal Bay, land without law

The following article, Bahía de Akumal, tierra sin ley, was published in PorEsto! on March 8, 2017. Translation has been provided below.

The original article can be found here:
http://www.poresto.net/ver_nota.php?zona=qroo&idSeccion=6&idTitulo=544698

* * *

AKUMAL, TULUM: March 8, 2017—Employers and providers of accredited nautical services, established in Akumal Bay, blame the three levels of government for not proceeding in the areas that they are responsible for, one year after the natural refuge of turtles was decreed, consequently from the entrance to the coastal area shows the disorder, after the proliferation of street vendors and “pirates” who offer services for swimming with turtles.

David Ortiz Salinas, Vice President of the Hotel Association of Tulum (AHT) in his speech at the press conference held in a well-known hotel in the Riviera Maya, recalled that last Tuesday, March 7, marked one year since the decree of the refuge area of turtles.

After the order to suspend swimming with turtles by PROFEPA, it makes it clear that there are no permits of any kind, for anyone, for such practice.

Therefore, he called on the relevant authorities to intervene, because the bay and marine species   are in danger, and it has reached a saturation point.

“There is a lack of coordination among all levels of government, among the same environmental authorities who have not been able to put order, lack of rule of law, lack of consequences for those who transgress the rights of others, those are the requests: that the authority in the field implement and enforce laws for all,” said Héctor Lizárraga, director of the CEA, who recalled in the same issue when they started with studies of marine species and reefs, have since witnessed the significant deterioration of species , so it is that in 2008, through a scientific study that was addressed to SEMARNAT, that eight years later they have considered it appropriate, and why the authority decreed the area of refuge.

But nowadays they have somehow seen a lack of action and absence of environmental authorities, which have in some way also led to the activities that should be sustainable in the area of refuge, comprising an area of 6 kilometers of coast and one kilometer offshore.

Although the intention is to protect species of turtles, sea grass, coral and mangrove in total the biodiversity of Akumal they are also highlighted in other places which has let to development without order and to the gradual deterioration which makes it all that more important that the federal authorities have taken a step to monitor compliance with the restriction on non-extractive activity with turtles.

Also that they maintain their position of not issuing permits until they can count on sufficient elements embodied in the protection program.

Arturo Orosco, a representative of the Akumal Dive Center, said that Akumal is living through an environmental, social and tourist services disorder that has generated enormous wealth for the people of Akumal.

He places the responsibility for creating this chaos, a disorder in the tourist services to the pueblo of Akumal; not to forget that the problem that Akumal is living through is purely commercial, commercial activities have not been regularized by the corresponding authorities, giving rise to people who have arrived as opportunists.

Adolfo Contreras, president of the Hotel Association of Tulum (AHT) and Edgar López, representative of “Piratas de Akumal”, a cooperative established for 10 years, was present at the press conference.