Akumal Bay one step closer to being a Turtle Refuge

Actualizado: 9 de feb de 2021

A recent post on the government website by the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) shows that the Estudio Justificativo to form a Turtle Refuge in Akumal has been concluded and that there is sufficient justification to protect an area roughly the same size as the Akumal Fish Refuge already decreed. (Further details such as the designated area will be provided by the authorities.)

The document, available online in Spanish outlines what species will be protected, including three species of turtles, four species of corals, three species of mangrove, and three species of seagrass.

This is a great accomplishment for Akumal. It took a concerted effort on the part of CEA, the landowners, businesses, and the community to lobby for this decree.

In fact, this has been a long time in the making. Since its inception 22 years ago, CEA has been proposing different conservation plans for Akumal Bay, including the proposal for a Turtle Refuge.

The Turtle Refuge Timeline


  • CEA submitted a proposal for the decree of a Turtle Refuge to SEMARNAT offering technical and scientific support for the protection of Akumal Bay


  • CEA participated as part of the Kanan Kay Alliance (a state partnership with government and Quintana Roo stakeholders in the design of the Akumal Fish Refuge intended for the protection of main ecosystem and commercial fish and shellfish stocks, as well as the marine turtle habitat

February 2015

  • Vida Silvestre (SEMARNAT) showed the proposed area for the Refugio de Tortuga to all commercial permit holders to establish rules for the commercial and non-commercial activities in Akumal Bay, mainly related to swimming/snorkelling with turtles

April 2015

  • On the 13th of April, the Akumal Fish Refuge was officially decreed by the federal agency SAGARPA

May 2015

  • Several meetings were held by the authorities in which CEA participated actively in conjunction with hotel and landowners, cooperatives, and relevant stakeholders from the community with the focus of working towards the turtle refuge

October 2015

  • A meeting with all stakeholders agreed that the Turtle Refuge would cover roughly the same area as the Akumal Fish Refuge
  • CEA presented and officially resubmitted the original 2008 Turtle Refuge proposal with updates and amendments to reflect the current status of the bay to SEMARNAT
  • As reinforcement to the Turtle Refuge and conservation efforts, CEA submitted a proposal for the similar area of the Akumal Fish Refuge to be recognized as a Ramsar site before CONANP (National Commission of Natural Protected Areas) to protect mangroves. (The Ramsar Convention is the intergovernmental treaty that provides a framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.)

November 2015

  • On Thursday, November 19 several documents were made available online on the federal government website including:

The Technical Justification Study (Estudio Técnico Justificativo para declarar área de refugio a la Bahía de Akumal, Quintana Roo).

The Agreement to establish Akumal Bay as a protected area (Acuerdo por el que se establece la Bahía de Akumal como área de refugio para la protección de las especies en el Estado de Quintana Roo).

This process has taken years and the efforts of many. However, a special acknowledgement goes to the SEMARNAT Minister, Delegado in Quintana Roo, and Direccion General de Vida Silvestre for this formal first step towards the conservation of Akumal Bay.

What’s next?

The government will need to officially declare the turtle refuge in the Diario Oficial and then SEMARNAT through CONANP in coordination with the Federal Public Administration and various stakeholders (public and private sectors) to collaborate in the formation of a protection program/management plan that will be overseen by government authorities.

#turtles #SeaTurtleProtectionProgram #TurtleRefuge #AkumalFishRefuge

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