Visitors to Isla Holbox will be prohibited from taking any throwaway plastics with them in line with new federal regulations announced yesterday.
The Yum Balam management program, published by the Natural Protected Areas Commission (Conanp), also bans the construction of any new large hotels, golf courses or airstrips and the dumping of wastewater into the surrounding sea.
A small island located off the northern coast of the Yucatán peninsula, Holbox has suffered from a range of problems in recent years due to aging infrastructure and unauthorized development.
The island’s sewage system has struggled to cope with the pressures placed on it by a growing population and has been plagued by wastewater overflows.
However, Conanp chief Alejandro del Mazo Maza said that the Yum Balam program, named after the biosphere reserve to which Holbox belongs, will guarantee that future development is sustainable and that the island’s biodiversity is protected.
Beaches on Holbox are used by sea turtles to lay eggs and its surrounding waters are important feeding grounds for whale sharks, stingrays and other marine species.
Jaguars, howler and spider monkeys and flamingos are among the species that live on the island.
“This management program seeks to avoid disorderly urban development, new population centers, deforestation, changes to land use, the accumulation of rubbish, the introduction of exotic species that become invasive or feral and the contamination of the sea, land and aquifers that place residents, ecosystems and native species of this natural protected area at risk,” Conanp said in a statement.
In addition to banning disposable plastic products, the plan also prohibits disposable containers made out of polystyrene or any other non-biodegradable materials from being taken on to Holbox.
Federal Environment Secretary Rafael Pacchiano Alamán described the new management program as something that is owed to Mexico and “above all a commitment to the world.”
He added that the federal government has now implemented 48 management plans for natural protected areas, increasing the total number of plans in place across the country to 114.