Roatan Marine Park Patrols
The ecological importance of the East side of the island is evident through tremendous fish aggregation, mangrove forests and important reef areas, which together help maintain ecosystem health. This year we are aiming to to extend our patrols to the remaining 25% of the island. Currently the RMP doesn’t have the equipment or resources to establish daily boat patrols as it does on the West side. This proposal is to garner support to fund these patrols. Getting a patrol boat will allow us to maintain the balance of these key ecosystems.
The RMP currently employs 6 full time Park Rangers who conduct both land and water patrols throughout the day and night. The Rangers are not only there to prevent illegal fishing, but to act as watchdogs in the identification of new developments and mangrove cuts and to ensure that marine recreational users are operating according to safety regulations.
The Bay Islands have general rules and regulations to help conserve the environment but failure to enforce these laws had sadly led to the use of unsustainable practices. To combat over-fishing, a major problem throughout the islands, laws have been established in an attempt to revive fish, turtle, lobster, and conch stocks. These laws are listed below:
- Within the Park and throughout the Bay Islands, it is completely illegal to harvest conch. Four boats do have special “research” licenses to collect conch from the Roatan Banks, meaning that unless a restaurant has purchased their conch from these authorized suppliers, the conch on your plate is illegally harvested.
- While it is illegal to remove lobster of any size from within the Reserve, lobster season for the Roatan Banks is between July 1st and February 28th, and only those that have permits can collect legal sized lobster (tail length greater than 14.5cm).
- The use of spearguns, harpoons, and gill, purse or seine nets is prohibited throughout the Bay Islands. Cast nets, however, are legal as they pose little threat to coral and reef dwelling fish as their primary target is bait fish on the surface.
- Line fishing is permitted throughout the Marine Park and can be done from the shore, docks, and boats. We do discourage line fishing from shore and within the lagoon as it removes both juvenile and adult reef dwelling species.
- Even with our patrols out on the water or observing from the shore line, we can not be everywhere at once. Therefore we rely on our supporters to be our eyes and ears and join us in protecting our reef and its inhabitants.
If you wish to report any misdemeanors, here is what to look for: People walking into the water with bags, spears, spear guns, gaffs, people snorkeling who repeatedly duck dive to collect organisms, people setting nets, lights in the water at night when a dive boat is no where to be seen, and generally people who are acting suspicious.
When you do see something out of the ordinary, please call the office on (+504 ) 2445-4206/08 or (+504 )94303198 , or on the radio channel 16, immediately so we can respond in order to catch the culprit(s). If no one answers, please call the next day so we can record the incident to better the chances of catching the perpetrators in the future.