Fish Recovery Sites, Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge
An initiative driven by community members for community members
On the east coast of Guatemala you will find the Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, containing natural attributes such as coral reefs, sea grass, fresh and brackish water, remnants of broadleaf forests including mangrove. It is the home to a diversity of molluscs, crustaceans, fishes, amphibians, reptiles and birds. Due to its array of fish, locals live mostly from fishing, which has created an undesirable pressure on the resource. As fishing continues to be an important part of the local economy, new ways to make existing fishing operations more efficient have come into play.
Community members understand the importance of the resource and how in time, if the fishing pressure doesn’t decrease, they won’t be able to fish anymore. This is one of the main reasons why the first initiative to create fish recovery sites in Guatemala took place. Driven by three communities of fishermen of Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge: La Graciosa, Santa Isabel and Punta Gruesa, working with the Gillnetters and Manjueros Fishermen Committee of Puerto Barrios. Together with the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP), three sites where created two in La Graciosa Bay, Mono Rojo and Punta Gruesa, and the other one including the entire area of Santa Isabel Lagoon.
Involving local community fishers has had a positive impact on being able to demarcate the fish recovery sites, a best practice that has proven to be an effective mechanism to restore and sustain ocean ecosystems. This has been backed-up with three monitoring’s performed in different months, in the sites, resulting in an increase of fish abundance with an average of 323 individuals compared to the baseline of 22.
Thanks to this initiative a total of 312 hectares are being protected and results are being achieved.
With each passing day, different ways of conservation are being implemented.