WHO OWNS WHAT IN THE RESERVE1:
WHAT IS AN EJIDO?
More than 44% of land within the reserve belongs to ejidos
. This is important,
can sell their land to private individuals. In our area that usually
means ranchers. An ejido is an area of communal land used for agriculture, on which
community members individually possess and farm a specific parcel
. Learn more on the Wikipedia Ejido Page
Within the reserve there are five kinds of land ownership:
- private property
- ejido land (long established ejidos)
- NCPE (Nuevos Centros de Población Ejidal, new ejidos)
- national territory
- ZOFEMAT (Zona Federal Marítimo Terrestre)
The fact that over 44% of the land belongs to ejidos is not as dangerous to
the Biosphere's integrity as it might seem, since all owners, including the ejidos
and private individuals who might buy ejido land, are subject to zoning
ordinances. However, much depends on close monitoring of activity within the 149,057 acres
(60,347 ha) Reserve, and the interpretation and enforcement of zoning regulations.
WHO DOES WHAT?:
Here's an example of how things work: Sein-net fishing, throw-net fishing and the
use of explosives are thought of as prohibited within the Reserve's waters. These
activities not only indiscriminately remove fish, but also destroy sea-grass vegetation,
which serves as food and shelter for many fish species, including important commercial
ones in the estuary and in the Gulf of Mexico. However, the last Director gave special
permission for net fishing at certain times, using nets with openings that would catch
only large fish, and only in certain places. But some fishermen fudge a bit, use smaller
net openings, in forbidden places, and at forbidden times. The former Director is gone now
and a new one is at work. Still, every day you see net fishing up and down the estuary.
The last Director also gave special permission for beachfront land across the estuary from
Río Lagartos to be subdivided and sold to others, so already the structures shown below
across the estuary from Río Lagartos are to be seen. We understand that now such bulding
is suspended, but who knows for how long?
RANCHERS: Because of historic vagueness of boundaries, instances
of invasiones, or "invasions," have occurred, when ranchers claimed
land considered to belong within the Biosphere Reserve.
FISHERMEN: Fishing is regulated within the reserve. Especially
when it's too windy to fish or fishing season is over, many fishermen offer themselves as
guides on flamingo-viewing tours, in competition with licensed, trained guides.
GUIDES: When fishing season opens and there's not enough inspectors to
control who fishes, many guides go fishing, competing with fishermen who depend only on
fishing for their livelihood.
THE SALTWORKS AT LAS COLORADAS: Building and maintaining the saltworks
historically -- since the time of the ancient Maya -- has resulted in enormous destruction
of habitat. Salt production provides important income in the region and the salt is
needed. An agreement exists to not expand the current operation.