There has been a lot of commentary, especially over the past year, about the access to Akumal Bay. Who has it? Who controls it? To what end? Many people, our family included, have grown concerned about the health of the reef and its inhabitants…specifically (but certainly not limited to) the magnificent marine turtles that call Akumal Bay home. Many people have voiced concerns about what the prominent landowners are doing to save Akumal Bay and what their responsibility should be in the process. What follows is a message from Laura B. Wolfe about the current state of affairs in Akumal. Please give this your consideration.
“The biggest challenge we face as a property owner on Akumal Bay is the control of the snorkel tours. Without the help of the government, we cannot bring the numbers under control and the bay will continue to deteriorate and the health of the turtles at risk.
As a property owner and member of the board of Centro Ecologico Akumal CEA, I can attest to the efforts that we are all making to get one Management Program that everyone can respect, with the help of the authority as well as Bay Capacity Limits based on scientific studies.
Having a community based management program only works if everyone agrees to it, but we have seen that the independent tour operators of the bay do not want to have someone else tell them what should be and what should not be done in the bay. This creates confusion with the users of the bay, when there are different rules or none at all; depending on the tour they take.
Snorkel tours are not part of the hotel business and we would all benefit greatly by not having them at all, or at least limiting them to a sustainable number a day. Even leaving one full day with no snorkel tours whatsoever to allow the turtles some relief from the stress of having so many people hovering over them while they feed.
With the commercial tours under control, the beach would be less crowded for the pueblo to be able to enjoy it on their days off. The guests themselves of each property would not over crowd the beach. They have facilities on each property they are staying at to enjoy not only the beach but also their pools, restaurants, spas, and shops. They will go snorkeling but not necessarily in a group, and with strict guidelines imposed by the properties.
The outside tours coming in back to back all day do not stay and shop, or go to the spa, or buy a meal, or go to the stores. They come in long lines straight to the beach and then out again.
The local tour operators are growing in numbers and when once they were fishermen, or boat hands, now they see more money in one hour than they used to in a full day’s work. This is what is drawing so many to this business. But it’s also taking the bay to a sure demise.
Most of these tours come in through the Centro Ecologico property, their entrance that is provided to Federal Zone being the most direct route to the beach. (Although not the only one). The property will be able to control the numbers as soon as the authority decrees limits, or hopefully declares this a protected area.
We face these challenges every day, and we see the chaos every day. Many times we are misunderstood as not caring, not wanting to do anything, or even that we contribute to the problem. It’s more complicated than we would have liked. Every step we take to try to control the numbers leads to social unrest. Every step we take to protect the bay is met with strong resistance from the local tour operators.
The answer lies in the government ruling of a strict program, with legal limits for the commercial use of the bay.
It is our hope that this will happen sooner rather than later. Our efforts will not stop until this is attained.”
Laura B Wolfe
What is CEA doing? Go to this link to see individual short videos from each Program Coordinator.
What can you do?
Write a letter directed to the Government Agency: SEMARNAT VIDA SILVESTRE
Let them know how important it is for you ( mentioning the number of years you have been visiting Akumal) to have them place capacity limits and bring the commercial snorkel tours under control . What you see in the bay, how it has affected your visit, and how you would like to have them step in and declare this a protected area.
Send them to :
PO BOX 13326
El Paso Tx 79913
Or signed and scanned to :