beach tagged posts

Beach Entrance to Akumal Bay: Changes as of March 5, 2018

In light of the recent closure of the beach path through private hotel property and the various rumors and speculations on social media, it’s time to set the record straight. We’ve been getting various questions and have been working on getting the correct answers. Here is what we know so far:

Was the beach path in Akumal closed?

Yes. The illegal path that ran through private property was closed under a federal court order on Monday, March 5. However, there are multiple access points or “Ventanas al Mar” to get to Akumal Bay. (See the Urban Development Plan Akumal 2007-2032, page 98.)

Is Akumal Bay now closed?

No.

Is Akumal Bay now a private beach / privatized bay?

No. The beaches in Mexico are public beaches.

Why was the path by the arch in Akumal closed?

The path was illegally created two years ago through private hotel property by a group of commercial tour operators. It was never a government-recognized access point to the beach, and the property rights of the hotel were violated. It took two years in court proceedings for a resolution. Last month a federal judge issued a court order to return the property back to its rightful owner under the supervision of municipal police.

How do I access Akumal Bay now?

Image from the Urban Development Plan Akumal 2007-2032

There are two main options to access the beach:

  1. Through one of the government designated “Ventanas al Mar” or windows to the sea in Akumal. (Marked by blue diamonds on the map.) There are accesses to Akumal Bay both to the south and to the north.
  2. Through Centro Ecologico Akumal—the building beside the Akumal Dive Shop.

 

Is there a fee to access the beach?

Entering the beach through one of the “Ventanas al Mar” is free. (These windows to the sea are federal property and under the jurisdiction of the federal government.)

If beach-goers wish to enter and use the services provided at the Centro Ecologico Akumal building (washrooms, showers, lockers, lifeguards, palapas etc), they can do so according the following fee schedule:

  • Residents of Quintana Roo with identification: Free
  • Children under 6 / seniors with INAPAM identification card: Free
  • All other visitors or guests: $5USD/100 pesos.

In summary:

  • Akumal Bay/beach is not closed.
  • Akumal Bay/beach is not private.
  • Akumal Bay has several access points/paths.
  • Anyone can access the beach through the Ventanas al Mar or the CEA building.
  • “Quintanarooenses” can enter the beach through the CEA building at no cost.

As we become aware of more details, we will be sure to post.

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.

High Season is Here

Akumal on Saturday, January 2

PHOTO TAKEN ON SATURDAY, JANUARY 2, 2016

January 4, 2016

With the holidays rounding out and cold temperatures in various parts of the northern hemisphere, there is certainly no doubt where everyone is heading: South. But looking at the beach in Akumal the first week in January, you would think that that message was more fine-tuned to read Akumal.

The main street into Akumal was clogged, traffic at a standstill, parking mayhem, and people scattered about with no regards to the vehicular traffic. And the beach–what beach? Beyond the towels, umbrellas, coolers and shade tents set up with bodies sprawling, there was little space to be found or sand to be seen. And then there is the bay itself, “snorkeler and swimmer soup” as one tourist called it. Guests of the various hotels and condos reported they preferred to stay on property by the pool or patios instead of battling the traffic and the crowds of day trippers  on the beach.

And this is why the government needs to act sooner rather than later, for Akumal Bay cannot sustain this volume of people. In December 2015, the government approved the justification study based on the various studies and specific evidence provided by CEA and the lobbying by numerous people, to proclaim Akumal Bay a turtle refuge. But the official declaration has been slow in the making. By declaring it a refuge, the government authorities would then be able to implement capacity limits  and oversee a management plan; the capacity limits for both the beach and the bay would help achieve sustainability.

It is critical that the government take action to not only declare Akumal a Turtle Refuge but to also enforce capacity limits and a management plan before it is too late.