Photo: Melissa del Carmen Llanes


The COVID-19 pandemic continues all over the world. Grantees are working to their best capacity following country restrictions and adapting activities to maintain social distancing measures. MAR Fund has continued in constant communication with grantees and donors to continue moving forward on the conservation of the Mesoamerican Reef System.


Photo: Ana Giró



The MAR Fish project is the largest coordinated monitoring network of fish spawning aggregation (FSA) sites in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) region. The overall objective is to promote the recovery of fisheries by strengthening the protection of the FSAs as critical areas in the life cycle of the species, through a better knowledge and understanding of the aggregations in the region.

During the second quarter of the year benthic habitat maps were developed for Cayman Crown, and workshops were conducted with fishers from Guatemala and Belize to address the importance of this area and its protection.


  • Benthic habitat maps of Southern Belize and the Guatemalan Mesoamerican Reef, were developed by Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI) in collaboration with Purkis Partnership and the Smithsonian Institution.
  • The maps comprise two areas of interest: Area 1 (1,100 km2) includes the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve in Belize (SCMR), Punta Manabique Wildlife Refuge (PMWR) in Guatemala, and Cayman Crown reef between both countries; Area 2 (3,200 km2), spans the Southern Barrier Complex of Belize.
  • The maps were produced with field observations provided by HRI and integrating bathymetric data gathered to date in Cayman Crown; this is the most detailed satellite and field observation-derived marine habitat maps for Guatemala and Cayman Crown reef area.

Areas of interest covered in the study. Area 1 covers the Guatemalan waters and Area 2, spans the Southern Belize Barrier Complex. The total area is 4,300 km2. Photo: HRI

  • Five expeditions were done by the Toledo Institute for Development (TIDE, Belize) to the Cayman Crown site from February to June 2021. Expeditions done in March and April were conducted jointly with Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO, Guatemala). The Belize Fisheries Department (BFD) also participated in some of the expeditions.
  • Characterization surveys were conducted using the Underwater visual census protocol adopted at the MAR Fish regional workshop carried out in 2019.
  • FSAs have been confirmed for Horse Eye Jack, Bar Jack, Ocean Triggerfish, Atlantic Spade. Also, there is strong evidence for commercial species of snappers, such as Schoolmaster and Dog Snappers.

Atlantic spadefish (Chaetodipterus faber), in Cayman Crown. Photo: D. Penado/FUNDAECO


  • Meetings with the BFD authorities and the Ministry of Blue Economy and Aviation to follow up on TIDE’s request for the co-management of the SCMR.
  • The management plan for the SCMR is under development by a consultant firm.
  • The first two phases of renovation of the building in Hunting Caye have been completed. This building will accommodate research teams.


  • The inclusion of the Cayman Crown reef to the PMWR is under discussion at a technical table at the Environment, Ecology and Natural Resources Commission in the National Congress.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a letter to the Environmental Commission to support this request, and a note to the National Council to expedite permits for TIDE for research in Guatemala.
  • FUNDAECO has managed to include the conservation and protection of the Cayman Crown reef on the work plan of the inter-institutional roundtable for conflict and territorial governance in the Caribbean Guatemala, established in February 2021, and integrated by 13 governmental and other NGOs.
  • Equipment was donated by FUNDAECO to the fisheries department to strengthen the control and surveillance activities.
  • A diagnosis to determine training needs of the technical staff, prosecutors and judges in Izabal, Guatemala, has been carried out by a consultant.
  • Training will be delivered in coordination with the Environmental Justice Forum of Izabal.


  • The Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI) and staff from Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA), conducted three virtual training sessions on fish, benthic and coral monitoring for the four countries of the MAR.
  • Participants will continue the field training sessions in order to be certified AGRRA monitors and be able to collect data.
  • Temperature loggers have been delivered to the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) in Honduras, and to TIDE, SEA and BFD in Belize.

FSAs monitored by the Coral Reef Alliance in Honduras:

Sandy Bay

  • Monitoring was carried out from January to March 2021. Tiger Groupers (Mycteroperca tigris) were observed in March displaying reproductive behavior including courtship, color change, and spawning.
  • Yellowfin Groupers and Black Groupers were also observed in fewer quantities, but did not display reproductive behavior.

Texas Western Banks

  • Monitoring was carried out during January and May 2021, but no FSA has been located. Due to limited weather conditions, this site could not be monitored February or March 2021.

Cordelia Banks

  • No monitoring was done due to weather conditions and limited personnel. However, CORAL has been developing a remote monitoring protocol to try to access sites even with difficult weather conditions.

Tiger Grouper spawning in Sandy Bay, Honduras. Photo: CORAL

FSAs monitored by the Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI) in Mexico:
Due to pandemic restrictions, monitoring of FSAs was not carried out. However, additional activities were led by COBI:

1. Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling

  • Fishers in Punta Allen, who were trained to collect in eDNA and tissue samples from fish in 2020, continued to collect tissue samples during the lockdown period of 2020-2021 and shipped them to COBI.
  • A report was published in 2021 with results of this survey, highlighting that Nassau Grouper are present, but also a range of other species that are not always visible to divers.

2. Data analysis of acoustic sensors

  • No acoustic sensors were installed in the 2020-2021 grouper spawning season, due to the pandemic, however they continued to work on data analysis.
  • In July 2021, they began re-analyzing the files with an updated version of the algorithm to remove background noise. The data confirms that 99% of the fish heard are Nassau Grouper and interestingly, the fish have a slightly different pitch to Nassau Grouper in other regions of the Caribbean.


Thanks to the grant provided by Marisla Foundation, two workshops were carried out in Belize and Guatemala with fishers. The online sessions were facilitated by Comunidad y Biodiversidad. The objectives of the workshop were that fishers from target communities understand the importance of Cayman Crown, its protected status and respect it as a no-take zone; in addition, to establish a Tri-national Committee that will enable the development of collaborative actions to protect natural resources within Cayman Crown while supporting local livelihoods.

Workshop in Belize:

  • Organized by TIDE, on May 26-27, 2021. It was carried out simultaneously in two communities, Punta Gorda and Monkey River.
  • Participation of fishers was very active, providing a lot of feedback and sharing their insights and experiences during the group sessions.
  • Four fishers were selected to partake in the tri-national committee, two from Punta Gorda and two from Monkey River.

Fishers workshop in Punta Gorda, Belize. Photo: TIDE

Workshop in Guatemala:

  • Organized and guided by FUNDAECO, on July 22-23, 2021, in Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala.
  • Fishers understand the importance of FSA and of the Cayman Crown reef as a potential area of aggregations.

Fishers workshop in Livingston, Izabal, Guatemala. Photo: FUNDAECO

  • The Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative launched its fourth Eco-Audit report (, a systematic evaluation of the degree of implementation of 28 recommended reef management actions. The overall regional Eco-Audit score improved from 54% to 66% from 2011 to 2020.
  • This year, Honduras has achieved the second highest score (66% with a 12% increase overall). Mexico is close behind with the third highest score (64%), scoring a 10% increase since 2011. Guatemala maintains the lowest overall score (62%) but has recorded the largest overall progress (18%).
  • The general themes of actions are: Marine Protected Areas, Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management, Coastal Zone Management, Sanitation and Sewage Treatment, Research, Education and Awareness, Sustainability in the Private Sector, and Global Issues.


Photo: Ana Giró

The RRI was created to increase the resilience and ability to recover of the MAR and the environmental and cultural services it provides through capacity building, regulations, economic incentives and financial sustainability required for the effective and timely restoration of the coral reefs.

The parametric insurance is now covering four critical core areas in Banco Chinchorro, Arrecifes de Xcalak, Hol Chan, and Turneffe Atoll. Emergency response capacity training has been carried out in Mexico, Belize and Honduras and a Task Force for post-storm response capacity building in Guatemala was formed. Several restoration projects have continued to advance in Mexico and Honduras.

Financing Mesoamerican Reef Resilience to Extreme Climatic Events:

On May 26, MAR Fund and Willis Towers Watson (WTW) presented the results of the project “Financing Mesoamerican Reef Resilience to Extreme Climatic Events”, financed by Global Affairs Canada through the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA). More than 40 participants attended the presentation, including regional and national authorities of the MAR, scientists, regional partners, and representatives from the World Bank and the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF).

This project includes the initial design and analysis of a parametric insurance mechanism as a solution to provide quick and appropriately-scaled funding after hurricane impacts for rapid response, reef restoration, and recovery in the MAR Region. The insurance product will be piloted in four key reef sites of the MAR, also with support from the InsuResilience Solutions Fund (ISF).

The MAR Insurance Programme:

In May, MAR Fund and ISF signed a Grant Agreement for the two-year project “Mesoamerican Reef Insurance Programme” which will be implemented by MAR Fund and WTW. This additional funding is for the further development and implementation of the insurance products and coverage in seven sites of the MAR Region.

In July, as part of the Solution Series event, ORRAA, MAR Fund and WTW organized a Solutions Lab. This lab aimed to provide an overview of the Mesoamerican Reef Insurance Programme and the progress towards its implementation, including a presentation of the current preparedness for reef response. Participants included ISF, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), World Bank, Belize Fisheries Department, Mexico National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA), and first responders’ experts, among other key stakeholders.

Furthermore, in July, insurance coverage was placed for four critical coral reef areas: Banco Chinchorro, Arrecifes de Xcalak, Hol Chan, and Turneffe Atoll. AXA Climate on behalf of AXA XL were selected as the insurance policy provider.

The Emergency Fund guidelines were finalized. This fund was established as a financial mechanism to provide immediate funds for emergency response reef restoration actions in the MAR.

MAR Fund continues working together with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the governments of the four MAR countries to develop and implement Emergency Response capacities at key reef sites in the MAR. Main advances on these activities include:


In July, the Rapid Response and Emergency Reef Restoration Course for brigades training was held in San Pedro, Belize. Fourteen participants from Belize, Guatemala and Honduras attended the training. The course was carried out in collaboration and with support of the Belize Fisheries Department, Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA).

Rapid Response and Emergency Reef Restoration Course for brigades training. San Pedro, Belize. Photo: Juan Carlos Huitrón


In June, in Mahahual, Quintana Roo, the first Training of Trainers (ToT) course for Post-Storm Reef Response Brigades was held. Five first responders participated in the course; they are in the process of being certified as brigade trainers.

ToT course for Post-Storm Reef Response Brigades. Mahahual, Quintana Roo. Photo: Juan Carlos Huitrón


In August, the ToT course for Post-Storm Reef Response Brigades was carried out in San Pedro, Belize. Five participants from Belize (4) and Guatemala (1) attended the course. Subsequently, a first responders training was carried out. Fourteen participants attended the training, including representatives from local organizations such as the Belize Fisheries Department, TASA, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, ECOMAR, among others.

ToT course for Post-Storm Reef Response Brigades. San Pedro, Belize. Photo: Juan Carlos Huitrón


The Capacity Building Training Working Group for response capacity held four virtual meetings. At the meeting, the next steps for the training of first responders and training of trainers were established. In addition, participants for the ToT course were identified.


MAR Fund and TNC held three meetings with the National Council of Protected Areas in Guatemala (CONAP) to coordinate the development of post-storm response capacities in the Caribbean region of the country. As a result of the meetings, the Task Force for post-storm response capacity building in Guatemala was formed. The Task Force is integrated by representatives from CONAP, MAR Fund, and TNC.

MAR Fund and the RRN, with support from the project MAR2R (CCAD/WWF/GEF), hired a consultancy group to carry out the “Development of instruments for the governance of the Reef Restoration Network of the Mesoamerican Reef System (RRN-MAR).” Through a consultation with the RRN members, the Strategic Plan 2021-2026 was developed and approved by the RRN Executive Committee.

Furthermore, the RRN Coordinator was hired and launched the first newsletter highlighting the Network’s progress and achievements (

The Regional Dialogue Group of the Regional Demonstration Project in attention to the SCTLD held two ordinary meetings to advance in the implementation of the project.

In June, the virtual workshop SCTLD in the Mesoamerican Reef: Update on Science and Monitoring, Status and Trends, and Exchange of Experiences was held. The objectives of the workshop were to promote the exchange of experiences on the monitoring and data collection of SCTLD in the MAR region, train participants in the identification and monitoring of the disease in its different stages and the introduction of data collected into the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) interface. More than 100 people participated. This workshop was organized in collaboration with AGRRA and HRI. The recording of the workshop can be viewed here:

In 2020, two Small Grants were formalized from the 12th Joint Request for Proposals. Due to the COVID-19 contingency, some activities had to be rescheduled. Nevertheless, the projects achieved the following progress:

Driving a national response strategy to address Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease in Honduras. By Roatan Marine Park (RMP).

  • A campaign was launched to encourage dive shops to adopt a dive site and commit to train their staff in intervention protocols and reassess the treated coral colonies at the site. Eleven sites have been adopted around West Bay and Sandy Bay.
  • More than 700 coral colonies and 1,800 lesions of SCTLD have been treated and tagged.
  • Eight coral identification virtual workshops and one virtual training on intervention protocols and antibiotic application were held. A total of 228 people were trained in these events.
  • Twenty-one sites located around Roatan have been actively monitored. Monthly maps of the spread of the disease have been developed.
  • RMP in collaboration with the Secretariat of Natural Resources and Environment (MiAmbiente+) and the National Institute for Forestry Conservation (ICF) hired a consultant to develop the National Action Plan for SCTLD.
  • A total of 12 coral out planting campaigns have been carried out, in which 262 coral fragments were planted.

SCTLD Rover Diver Monitoring. Photo: Roatan Marine Park

Rescue of emblematic coral species at risk of local extinction due to the White Syndrome. By Amigos de Isla Contoy (AIC).

The project completed its activities and presented the following final results:

  • Four aquariums and one mesocosm (tank for safeguarding colonies) were installed in the Regional Center for Fisheries Research of the National Institute of Fisheries (CRIAP-INAPESCA) and the Xcaret Group Aquarium.
  • Fifteen colonies of Dendrogyra cylindrus (DCYL), Diploria labyrinthiformis (DLAB), Pseudodiploria strigosa (PSTR) and Pseudodiploria clivosa (PCLI) are safeguarded in the CRIAP-INAPESCA and Xcaret Group Aquarium.
  • Eleven field trips were made to three reef sites to monitor coral spawning. Seventy-six colonies were monitored, from which genetic material from four species (DLAB, PSTR, Orbicella faveolata -OFAV- and annularis -OANN-) was obtained, achieving the cryopreservation of 216 vials.
  • Rescued colonies of DLAB have spawned under laboratory conditions in the CRIAP-INAPESCA facilities, a first in Mexico.

A workshop was held to present the progress of the project, with the collaboration of experts from Florida and Hawaii. Eighty people from major civil society organizations and universities interested in reef restoration in the Caribbean participated in the workshop. The recording of the workshop can be viewed at:

Rescued DLAB colonies at Xcaret Aquarium. Photo: Anthony Cerdan/Xcaret

In 2021, two Small Grants were formalized from the 13th Joint Request for Proposals. The projects present the following progress:

Beyond the White Syndrome: Rescue and Sexual Reproduction of Susceptible Species. By AIC.

  • A mesocosm was installed and started to operate at CRIAP-INAPESCA, adding two functional mesocosms for the rescue and spawning of the rescued colonies.
  • A quarantine system and maintenance tank for rescued colonies and sexual recruits are operational at the Xcaret Aquarium facilities.
  • Eight field trips were conducted during the spawning season to attend DLAB spawning at the Jardines and Bonanza sites. Sufficient material was collected for fertilization. Additionally, four genotypes (43 vials in total) of DLAB were cryopreserved.

Addressing the onset of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease outbreak in Lighthouse Reef Atoll, Belize. By Belize Audubon Society

  • The progress of the project will be presented in October.
  • The MAR2R Project grant includes collaboration for pilot projects, through small grants, for coral restoration in the MAR. Two Small Grants have been formalized for the following projects, and to date, the following progress has been made.

Ecological restoration of coral reefs in Cozumel Island. By Fundación Comunitaria Cozumel I.A.P.

  • The condition of 138 mother coral colonies of Acropora palmata (APAL)were diagnosed in Cozumel.
  • Twenty-nine fragments were recovered and stabilized of a colony fragmented by human impact.
  • A submerged nursery for 100 corals was installed, following the “Protocol to establish a marine coral nursery for reef restoration actions in Cozumel, Quintana Roo”. Coral fragments of APAL were collected from four mother colonies and planted in the nursery.
  • A total of 430 fragments were collected from eight mother colonies and were planted in the reef zone adjacent to the «Playa Corona» beach club. Additionally, 611 fragments were collected and planted at the «Punta Molas» site.

Coral restoration in the reef habitat of Akumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico: Phase II. By Centro Ukana I Akumal, AC.

  • Isla Tortuga site was characterized, and a new stabilization line was established with 83 new fragments of Acropora cervicornis. A monitoring and cleaning campaign was conducted on this line.
  • The Action Plan and the Akumal Coral Restoration Strategy were presented to the community, and agreements were signed by the Akumal Community Restoration Allies (ARCs). The Coral Restoration Committee was also formed.
  • Two workshops were held for the training of ARCs leaders.

Fragments of opportunity: rebuilding reefs and fostering resilient communities through coral restoration. By RMP.

  • A brochure about the Coral Restoration Certification course was made to be available at the dive centers to promote the course.
  • Eleven field trips to clean and maintain coral nurseries have been carried out.
  • Ninety corals have been transplanted onto degraded areas in Roatan.
  • A webinar was held in collaboration with Utila Coral to share experiences in coral restoration. Fifty-one participants attended the webinar.

Coral Restoration Certification brochure. Image: Roatan Marine Park

RMP Coral Nursery maintenance and cleaning. Seaquest Deep dive site, Roatan. Photo: Suzanne Edderding

In June, 10 short videos were produced with the advice of experts to promote the MAR and the work of RRI in the region. These videos have been posted on the MAR Fund website, as well as on social media. Videos can be viewed here:

In July, a video of the MAR insurance programme was developed. The video includes details of the ORRAA project, highlighting the importance of the MAR and the parametric insurance for reefs. The video can be viewed here:

Additionally, a Brief of the Insurance Model and the MAR Insurance Programme and an updated fact sheet of the ORRAA’s project and the MAR Insurance Programmes were developed. The documents can be viewed here:

On May 25th and 26th, the TSC conducted its tenth ordinary meeting via online. Participants included:

  1. Mexico: María del Carmen García Rivas. National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP).
  2. Guatemala: Regina Sánchez and Gabriella Castellanos. Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN).
  3. Honduras: Scarlett Pineda. Directorate of Biodiversity (DiBio).
  4. Belize: Adriel Castañeda and Alicia Eck-Nunez. Belize Fisheries Department.
  5. María José González, MAR Fund’s Executive Director.
  6. Claudia Ruiz, RRI Coordinator
  7. Daniela Larios, RRI Technical Assistant.

During the meeting, the progress, and main achievements of the Annual Work Plan (AWP) 2020 were presented to the TSC. In addition, the Guidelines for the operation of the Emergency Fund were reviewed. As well, the AWP and budget for 2021 were approved. The TSC is pleased with the advances of the initiative and will reconvene again in November 2021.


Photo: Ana Giró

The BMF supports projects through two programmatic windows 1) the Targeted Grants Program and 2) the Small Grants Program.

The projects supported by these programs have been guided by those priority areas of focus established in the BMF’s Strategic Plan and in consultation with the BMF Steering Committee. Some advances include the unveiling of the newly developed Branding, Marketing, and Communication Strategy for the Belize Barrier Reef World Heritage Site; the presentation of data collected and analysis conducted by WWF related to the resilience potential of marine protected areas in the Mesoamerican reef system; efforts towards the development of the revised management plan for the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve (TAMR); and Blue Ventures efforts at implementing a lion-fish control plan for TAMR.


Contributing to the knowledge, monitoring and protection of Mesoamerican reef’s fish spawning aggregations and replenishment zones.

General Objective: Supporting scientific data collection at Cayman Crown, improving the knowledge-base of the ecological baseline of the site, while establishing the legal and technical frameworks for management; and raising awareness of its existence and the importance of management presence.

  • TIDE conducted a field expedition at Cayman Crown from April 27 to May 2, 2021, with partners from the Belize Fisheries Department, and Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO). Underwater surveys were conducted using the Underwater visual census protocol adopted at the MARFish Workshop in Cancun in 2019.
  • A total of four dives were conducted during the expedition. Species observed in abundance were the Atlantic Spade, Bar Jack, Bonito, Schoolmaster, Horse eye Jack, Crevalle Jack, and Triggerfish. The Atlantic Spade was observed grouping and displaying courtship behaviour related to spawning, while the Bar Jacks and Horse eye Jacks were also observed grouping and courting.
  • During this expedition, the team installed a HOBO logger at the SE point of the Jewel Site where most of the fish presence and activity had been observed.

Branding for change—enhancing national and international awareness of the importance of the BBRRS WHS.

General Objective: Creating and implementing a branding and marketing strategy, inclusive of a communication plan, to sensitize the Belize and international community on the importance of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (BBRRS).

  • On June 8, 2021 World Ocean Day, and in collaboration with the Ministry of the Blue Economy, WWF unveiled the newly developed Branding, Marketing, and Communication Strategy for the Belize Barrier Reef World Heritage Site. This included an interactive version of the Brand Book that describes the branding strategy and contains the brand colors, logos, typography, visual style etc., the brand logo and the marketing and communication strategy.
  • The brand is being built on the core values of the Belize Barrier Reef and is currently being communicated with three main audiences: tourists through the tourism industry, fishers and the fishing industry, helping to reinforce existing guidelines for sustainable fisheries, and the general Belizean public.
  • It is expected that the brand will leverage the UNESCO WHS designation to underscore the Outstanding Universal Value of the reefs and the urgent need to protect it and fish responsibly.

Belize Barrier Reef WHS brand logo. Photo: WWF

Resilience analysis of Belize’s protected areas system to climate change.

General Objective: Understanding the resilience potential of targeted Marine Protected Areas in Belize, through a “snapshot” resilience assessment.

  • On June 23rd, 2021, WWF hosted a workshop on Marine Protected Areas in the Mesoamerican Reef System and their Resilience Potential. Presentations were made on the overview of MPAs in Belize, Mexico, and Honduras by key regional partners including the Belize Fisheries Department, the National Commission of Natural Protected areas in Mexico, and the Department of Protected Areas at ICF Honduras. While WWF provided insights on the ecological and social reef resilience analysis within the MPAs of the MAR.
  • Through the creation of an analytical framework to calculate an integrated reef resilience index (IRRI) using nine indicators (e.g., live coral cover, sedimentation, temperature, coral disease prevalence, coral species richness, fleshy macroalgal), WWF is providing MPA managers the ability to evaluate the level of resilience of MPAs over time.

Towards sustainability for the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve.

General Objective: Enhancing TASA’s capacity to provide effective management of the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve (TAMR).

  • On June 23rd, 2021, WWF hosted a workshop on Marine Protected Areas in the Mesoamerican Reef System and their Resilience Potential. Presentations were made on the overview of MPAs in Belize, Mexico, and Honduras by key regional partners including the Belize Fisheries Department, the National Commission of Natural Protected areas in Mexico, and the Department of Protected Areas at ICF Honduras. While WWF provided insights on the ecological and social reef resilience analysis within the MPAs of the MAR.
  • Through the creation of an analytical framework to calculate an integrated reef resilience index (IRRI) using nine indicators (e.g., live coral cover, sedimentation, temperature, coral disease prevalence, coral species richness, fleshy macroalgal), WWF is providing MPA managers the ability to evaluate the level of resilience of MPAs over time.
  • According to WWF most of the MPAs assessed across the three MAR countries (Belize, Mexico, and Honduras) received a score of “fair”. While this approach helps MPA managers to identify sites that are resilient to climate change and provides baseline data for resilience, WWF asserts that some MPAs require more sampling for missing ecological indicators.

Continued reef replenishment in southern Belize with an emphasis on mapping and quantifying natural and replenish acroporid cover.

General Objective: Increasing the genetic biodiversity of replenished acroporids and overall coral diversity, by replenishing with non-acroporid stony coral species, at four to seven sites in two marine protected areas near Placencia—documenting results with existing and novel methods.

  • From January – May 2021 FoH only managed to conduct four to five field days each month due to excessively high winds, and of those days, a smaller fraction provided appropriate weather for out planting of corals. Despite these constraints, 5,808 coral fragments (5,039 cervicornis and 769 A. palmata) were out planted across four sites: Silk Cayes, Moho, LBCNP and False Caye. Genetic diversity was enhanced for A. cervicornis and A. palmata at most outplanted sites, and additional A. cervicornis genets were added to nurseries at LBCNP and Silk Cayes.
  • During this reporting period, FoH conducted drone mapping at Lazy and South Cramp Caye (new source of both A. palmata and A. cervicornis genets.)

From top left, clockwise: (a) day 0 outplanted new A. cervicornis genet with cement at False Caye 17Mar21 (b) 48 days later and (c) close up of growth onto substrate/reef after 48 days (d) outplanting A. cervicornis entire ropes with nails at S Silk Caye 19May21. Photos: Fragments of Hope.

Managing responsible fisheries in Belize.

General Objective: Ensuring the successful establishment and pay-out of a gillnet buyback fund to previously identified licensed gillnet fishers contributing to the government of Belize’s commitment for a gillnet ban by 2022.

  • Oceana continues to implement its gillnet buy-back program which is progressing extremely well and continues to be administered with the assistance of the Belize Credit Union League (BCUL), which continues to make monthly disbursements to the 37 qualified gillnet fishermen that are participating in the program.
  • In June 2021, the Supreme Court of Belize made its decision denying the application made by the Belize Fishermen Cooperative Association to request a judicial review of the decision made by the Government of Belize to ban gillnet fishing. According to Oceana, the Court’s decision confirms the throughness of the process and the integrity of the ban.

Safeguarding replenishment zones within the Belize barrier reef reserve system.

General Objective: Expanding Belize’s protected areas network and improving its management and compliance by increasing support for the finalization of the replenishment zone expansion efforts in Belize.

  • WCS engaged the general public through its social media platforms about the benefits associated with marine protected areas (MPAs) and replenishment zones (RZs). The organization developed and posted a series of infographics, asking members of the public to urge their area representatives to support the legal designation of the remaining replenishment zone expansion sites.
  • Additionally, WCS developed and is currently broadcasting on Belize’s national radio stations a four-part public service announcement about the benefits of MPAs and RZs to encourage participation in a social media trivia competition called “Sea What You Know.”
  • A focus group session was conducted with approximately 25 members of the Hopkins Fishermen Association (HFA), to gather their perception of the benefits of expanding replenishment zones, and seek their participation in the community catch data collection.
  • WCS has developed a draft compliance strategy for Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve (GRMR) based on Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) data collected during enforcement patrols over the past five years. The organization has also contracted a consultant to lead a review process with participation from the Belize Fisheries Department (BFiD), and the Belize Coast Guard. It is expected that the BFiD will formally adopt this strategy after the revision process is completed.

Focus group meeting with members of the Hopkins Fishermen Association. Photo: D. Arzu/WCS

The «Sea What You Know» social media trivia challenge focused on increasing the public’s knowledge about the benefits of MPAs and replenishment zones.


Establishing effective lionfish management in Belize’s fish replenishment zones.

General Objective: Developing and piloting protocols for a successful approach to lionfish control in Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve (TAMR) that can be replicated across Belize’s MPAs system.

  • Blue Ventures hosted a meeting of its Lionfish working Group on August 25, 2021, which covered ongoing with the Belize Fisheries Department, towards the resolution of two remaining issues concerning management of non-resident foreigners with independent boat access who are interested in doing lionfish control and the end-use of lionfish caught by tour guides holding both lionfish culling permits and a commercial fishing license. Blue Ventures will seek to resolve these outstanding issues for finalization of the white paper on lionfish management before the end of 2021.
  • In collaboration with TASA, Blue Ventures launched the lionfish control plan for TAMR in May 2021. Between May 3 and July 31, 2021, 19 lionfish control dives were conducted at 11 sites. In total, 131 lionfish were removed over this period. In addition to the culling by TASA, fishers landed a total of 263 lbs of whole, gutted lionfish from Turneffe between July 22-31, adding approximately 500 lionfish to removal effort in the General Use Zones (GUZ) of TAMR for the period under evaluation.

Number of lionfish control dives, and the number of lionfish removed by TASA, in General Use (GUZ) and Fish Replenishment Zones (NTZ, i.e. Conservation and Preservation Zones) coral reef sites in Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve from the 3rd of May and 31st July of 2021

Improving management of fish spawning aggregation zones in Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve.

General Objective: : Maintaining connectivity across Belize’s fish spawning aggregation sites by supporting monitoring and surveillance at one multi-species fish spawning aggregation site, the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve (GSSCMR).

  • A total of 39 interagency patrols (SEA and Belize Coast Guard) were conducted within the FSA Site, for the period March-June 2021.
  • A total of 45 special license fishers (from 23 vessels) were encountered during the period March-June 2021, with only one recorded infraction- where one fisher folk was not in possession of his special license.
  • A total of 49 dives were conducted for FSA Monitoring during a 4-month- period (March-12 dives; April-14 dives; May-14 dives & June-9 dives). The species with the highest average count were Mutton Snapper (in April 2021) and Dog Snapper (March and April 2021).

Line graph showing the number of SPAG patrols conducted by SEA’s enforcement team during the period March 2021 to June 2021

Graph showing SPAG average count data by species per month collected between March 2021 to June 2021, GSSCMR FSA Site

Safeguarding Manatees & Community Livelihoods in Belize City and Placencia through Research and Education.

General Objective: : To protect Belize’s Antillean manatee population by gathering scientific data, educating the public, and implementing conservation activities.

  • On July 13, 2021 members of Sea to Shore’s Belize team participated in a zoom conference call to discuss plans for the execution of a regional manatee aerial survey to gather population estimates for the Antillean manatee in the region. Surveys will be flown in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize and are currently scheduled for early May 2022.

Images captured during CMARI manatee drone surveys in Southern Lagoon. Photo: CMARI

Towards the knowledge, monitoring and protection of MAR Fish Spawning Aggregations and Replenishment Zones.

General Objective: : To help secure the fish stocks of the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) region through the protection and management of fish replenishment zones located along the MAR.

  • To effectively involve stakeholders in the consultation process for the development of the Sapodilla Caye Marine Reserve (SCMR) Management Plan TIDE and its partners hosted a two-day workshop designed for local fisherfolks/stakeholders of the SCMR held on May 26 and 27, 2021. During the workshop, held in Punta Gorda Town and Monkey River Village simultaneously, presentations were made by representatives of the relevant project partners including FUNDAECO and MAR Fund.
  • Additionally, along with PPF Capital Belize Limited, the consulting firm tasked with the development of the SCMR Management Plan, TIDE, and the Belize Fisheries Department (BFD) hosted two online sessions to map and identify all relevant stakeholders of SCMR. The process of stakeholder consultations is scheduled to commence from September through October 2021.
  • While the inception report for the development of the SCMR Management Plan has been completed, TIDE expects that the first draft of the SCMR Management Plan will be finalized by November 2021.

Exploration of sea cucumber mariculture potential in Belize.

General Objective: : Artificially spawning adult Holothuria mexicana sea cucumbers and rearing the resulting larvae & juvenile ex-situ for release into the wild using low-cost techniques that can easily be replicated.

  • UB-ERI reared sea cucumber juveniles in outdoor labs where a total of 800,000 eggs were successfully fertilized. Of this total, 10,500 fertilized eggs were planted in mariculture cages in the sea near the Calabash Caye Field Station where they were incubated.
  • In July 2021 a UB Natural Resource Management intern was retained as a volunteer to assist with the project.

Microscopic image of fertilized eggs at one hour of fertilization. Photo: UB-ERI

Building Knowledge and Understanding, Managing Perceptions, and Engaging Fishing Communities of the North Eastern Coast of Belize Towards Improved Stewardship of Marine Resources.

General Objective: To strengthen BAS’ existing relationship with the stakeholder communities of Lighthouse Reef Atoll, through the expansion of its environmental education & community outreach programs; for improved stewardship and conservation of marine resources.

  • BAS is strategizing for the recruitment of students to its Reef Protector’s Program, and has been working with the principals of the secondary schools in Chunox and Copper Bank to provide information to the students regarding the Reef Protector’s program. BAS will develop flyers that provide information about the program and how to apply, which will be included in learning packages being provided to students by their respective schools. While BAS’ targeted communities are Chunox and Cooper Bank, the program is also open to students from Sarteneja.

Food vendor from Chunox receiving biodegradable food containers. Photo: BAS

Conserving Manatees & Habitats in Belize Through Research, Monitoring, and Community Engagement.

General Objective: To implement research, education, and conservation actions on behalf of the endangered Antillean manatee to garner protections for the species and its critical habitats.

  • Water Quality tests were completed at six sample sites in Southern Lagoon, and five sampling sites in the Belize River.
  • Seagrass and mangrove drone surveys were conducted in Southern Lagoon. Environmental data collected also include temperature, salinity, depth, and turbidity.
  • Boat and gill nets patrols were conducted in Southern Lagoon and the Belize River. Boating activity in the Belize River was minimal; while in Southern Lagoon there was a noted increase in motorized boating activities. No gillnets were present at either site.
  • A two-day conservation summer camp was hosted at the Gales Point Government School with participation of 35 children over the two-day period. During the Summer Camp students participated in a beach clean-up (collecting approx. 325lbs of garbage), and arts and craft. Students were also given a presentation outlining the natural history of manatees, threats to manatees in Belize, insights on Clearwater’s research and conservation efforts in Belize, and a call to action for protecting manatees and their habitat in Southern Lagoon.

Water quality testing conducted at Southern Lagoon. Photo credit: CMARI   

Water quality testing Belize River. Photo: CMARI

Summer Camp participants cleans approx. 1.5 miles of turtle nesting beach and collects approx. 325lbs of garbage at Gales Point Manatee. Photo: CMARI

Summer Camp participants cleans approx. 1.5 miles of turtle nesting beach and collects approx. 325lbs of garbage at Gales Point Manatee. Photo: CMARI

Garbage collected from turtle nesting beach clean-up in Gales Point Manatee. Photo: CMARI

Investing in Crisis-Resilient Fisheries by Strengthening Managed Access Committees across Belize

General Objective: To strengthen Belize’s Managed Access Committees (MAC) to become stronger, more effective governance institutions that champion management changes that will improve fisheries health within Managed Access fishing areas.

  • EDF began outreach to key stakeholders including the Belize Fisheries Department, Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA), Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE), Southern Environmental Association (SEA), Hol Chan Marine Reserve, and Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD) to assess the operational status and priority issues of MACs and to begin planning MAC workshops.
  • EDF, Belize Fisheries Department and partners from the United Nations held a workshop in Belize City (June 29 – July 2) to build stakeholder capacity for science-based management of multispecies finfish fisheries and to gather input on a national finfish management plan. Workshop participants included several fishers and co-managers who are MAC members. Attendees learned about fundamental principles of climate resilient fisheries and actively participated in dialogue about finfish management decisions.
  • EDF is also working with the Belize Fisheries Department to advance the management plan through a new participatory process required under the Fisheries Resources Act of 2020.

Day 3 of EDFs Adaptive Multispecies Finfish Management Workshop Photo: EDF

Building Resilience and Environmental Stewardship Among the three Fishing Communities of Hopkins, Independence and Placencia.

General Objective: To strengthen the resilience of fishing communities so as to minimize shocks compounded by depleting fish stocks and COVID-19.

  • SEA conducted a one-week Summer Camp from July 26-30, 2021. Participants ranged between 8-16 yrs and came from both the private and public schools in Placencia.
  • During the Summer Camp, children participated in presentations from SEA’s Protected Areas Manager who talked about the marine protected areas SEA co-manages, protected area zonation and spawning aggregation sites. There were also two guest speakers from the Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC) who talked about healthy mangrove ecosystems, and Dr. Annalise Hagan who did a talk on sea turtles and their importance. A beach clean-up was also conducted as a part of the summer camp.
  • Summer camp participants also had a presentation from Reef Keepers Belize. The organization talked about their work, protection of groupers and fish stocks—linking fish consumption to managed access.
  • Students were also engaged through practical data collection—where students were taught how to conduct conch measurement and SPAGS monitoring—using age-appropriate teaching techniques. Video presentations around the science and research program at GSSCMR were provided by SEA’s Science Ranger.
  • On the final day of the Summer Camp, students were taken on a field trip to LBCNP and GSSCMR, which provided hands-on experience for these students. According to SEA, this was the highlight of the Summer Camp for participants.

Reefkeepers presentation at SEA Summer Camp. Photo: SEA

Crocodile Research Coalition (CRC) presentation at SEA Summer Camp. Photo: SEA

SEA Summer Camp participants on field-visit at Laughing Bird Caye National Park. Photo: SEA

SEA Summer Camp participants on field-visit at Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve. Photo: SEA

SEAs Protected Area Manager making a presentation on GGSSCMR to Summer Camp participants. Photo: SEA

SEAs Science Ranger showcasing research equipment to Summer Camp participants. Photo: SEA


Photo: Ana Giró




Supporting Coastal and Marine Resources Management and Protection in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR)

Nine projects were supported under the traditional window of the twelfth request for proposals. Four projects have finalized activities during this period and some important results are presented below. The other projects are under implementation and their progress to date are also presented, as indicated below. Additional information can be found in the webpage.

The jewel of the Mesoamerican Reef – Phase II

Grantee: Fundación para el Ecodesarollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO), Guatemala.

Final results:

  • Four patrols were carried out between the months of April, May and July. Three illegal fishing gear were found.
  • On May 24, 2021, the project was socialized with 20 fishers from the Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, who have influence in the Cayman Crown reef system.
  • Two environmental education workshops were developed in coordination with the Director at the primary level of the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) and with the Livingston Educational Supervisor. In total, 34 young people participated.

Education workshop in the community of La Angostura, Guatemala. Photo: FUNDAECO


Grantee: Fundación Mundo Azul (FUMNZ) & Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI). Guatemala.

Progress to date:

  • An emergency protocol for field expeditions was updated.
  • Intense planning took place to fix a potential date for the first field expedition to Cayman Crown. The field trip took place between the last week of August and the first week of September. Data is being analized.
  • The Guatemalan NGO Semillas del Océano (SDO) and HRI organized two online talks about the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) between the months of July and August. In total 100 people attended the two events.

SCTLD Webinar invitation. Photo: HRI

Grantee: Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza (FDN). Guatemala.

Progress to date:

  • Five coordination meetings for the elaboration of the work protocol, seleccion of site monitoring and collaboration during the project, took place with FDN, the Authority for the Sustainable Management of the Hydrographic Basin of Lake Izabal and Río Dulce (AMASURLI) and the Municipal Environmental Management Directorate (DIGAM).
  • Two solid waste monitoring took place in May and June 2021 in the Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge area of influence. Approximately 90 samples of waste were collected and now are being analized.
  • Four virtual meetings with SDO took place to organize and establish the work criteria for the education activities they will develop with young people from El Estor.

Solid waste monitoring in the Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge, Guatemala. Photo: FDN

Grantee: Roatan Marine Park (RMP). Honduras.

Progress to date:

  • Three Fish Spawning Aggregation (FSA) sites were monitored: West End Point, Cordelia Banks, and Sandy Bay. Only in Sandy Bay the fish aggregation behavior was confirmed, where tiger grouper individuals (Mycteroperca tigris) were observed.
  • Fourteen people were successfully trained to monitor these sites.
  • Mycteroperca tigris) were observed spawning. Yellowfin groupers and black groupers were also observed in much less quantities, however, they did not display reproduction behavior.

FSA monitoring in Sandy Bay, Roatan. Photo: RMP

Grantee: Bay Island Conservation Association-Roatan (BICA-Roatan). Honduras.

Progress to date:

  • Twenty three field trips took place to monitor the identified FSAs on each island, achieving 16 trips in Guanaja, 3 in Roatan and 4 in Utila.
  • BICA’s technical staff trained 13 community scientists to carry out fish landing monitoring for FSA on each island.

Fish landing monitoring for FSA in Punta Gorda, Roatan. Photo: BICA

Grantee: Bay Island Conservation Association-Roatan (BICA-Roatan), Honduras.

Progress to date:

  • In conjunction with the Regulatory Agency for Drinking Water and Sanitation Services (ERSAPS in Spanish), the Pensacola Board of Trustees and BICA, the potable water rate analysis was carried out and it proposes two scenarios to be considered in order to implement a new rate.
  • The first section of the Pensacola community potable water system was built. This allows the Pensacola Board of Trustees to provide greater efficiency in the provision of water service to the community.

Construction of the potable water system in Pensacola, Roatan. Photo: BICA

  • In total, 49 septic tanks were cleaned, 32 in the Pensacola community and 17 in La Punta, to reduce the wastewater that contributes to marine pollution.
  • One hundred posters were printed to be placed at strategic points in the community, in order to sensitize the population about the importance of water and sanitation management.

Poster about the importance of water and sanitation management. Photo: BICA


Grantee: POLO’s Water Association (POLO’s). Honduras.

Progress to date:

  • Improvements in four lifting stations (el Berrinche, Calico, Tucan and Coconut tree) with submersible pumps, thus allowing all stations to have backup equipment.
  • One submersible pump installed in the sludge digester, allowing the sludge to be sent to the drying yard and a 5 hp aerator pump installed in the reactor, thereby increasing the transfer of oxygen in the water treatment plant.
  • Analysis of operational parameters and water quality were taken before and after the new equipment was installed in the treatment plant. The results recommended adding more oxygen to the water, so a fine bubble diffusers and various materials to replace the existing aeration system were also acquired.
  • Seventeen people who live in front of the treatment plant participated in an educational talk to learn about the rational use of water, the process for reading micrometers and the importance of being connected to the sewer system.

Environmental education activity. Photo: Polo’s Water Association

Grantee: Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI).

Progress to date:

  • The acoustic data collection and analysis methodology implemented in Niche Habin (Punta Allen) has been shared with partners to scale up the information to other spawning sites outside the country.
  • A collaboration with Dr. Laurent Cherubin from Florida Atlantic University in the United States is in progress: an updated version of the program to analyze the acoustic data collected at the FSA will be shared with COBI. Data analysis will make it possible to understand the temporal dynamics of FSA.
  • A synergy of collaboration is being created with educational research institutions, managers of protected natural areas and fishers, to strengthen the process of collecting biophysical and environmental data in at least one grouper spawning site (El Blanquizal).

Online meeting to strengthen synergies of collaborations. Photo: COBI

Grantee: Transformación, Arte y Educación, A.C. (TAE). Mexico.

Progress to date:

  • Eight training courses were given to the groups of fishers belonging to the José María Azcorra (3) and Cozumel (2) cooperatives and to Tourist Service Providers (1) and staff of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) (2). The courses presented theoretical information on human rights, normative, difference between offense and crime and between demand and complaint, and how to behave in those cases. A field course was included for fishers to simulate a surveillance patrol.
  • So far, with the “Denuncia Pesquera” Mobile app. 22 reports have been registered; however, only four were complete and could be presented as a complaint

Field course with fishermen to try the App. and simulate surveillance patrol. Photo: TAE



Supporting Coastal and Marine Resources Management and Protection in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR)

The Grants and Evaluation Committee meeting was virtually held on January 15, 2021 to recommend the proposals to approve. Eight projects were recommended for support, and later on approved by MAR Fund Donors and MAR Fund Board of Directors.

The thirteenth request for proposals is currently under development. The eight projects approved are presented below:

Within the yum balam flora and fauna protection area, 2nd phase

Grantee: Centinelas del Agua (CDA), Mexico.

Progress to date:

  • A diagnosis of economic activities in Solferino, Chiquilá and Holbox is being developed.
  • Three types of surveys were designed (for fishing cooperatives, hotels and schools) to define the perception of water in the community.
  • The CDA technical team is -working with and being trained by- other key stakeholders, such as Parley for the Ocean (on water and waste), COBI and the AKK (on fishing cooperatives), and the consultant Fernando del Valle (on water treatment and good practices in hotels).
  • A water quality monitoring took place in August and results are being analyzed for the 15 monitoring sites selected.
  • An environmental education workshop took place in Solferino, where 10 students participated

Environmental education workshop in Solferino, Mexico. Photo: CDA

Grantee: Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI), Mexico.

Progress to date:

  • Twenty-five tablets were purchased and configured with infographics and applications which will be used during the training by the participants of the project.
  • In August, invitations were sent to the participants, together with the tablets. Two story telling virtual sessions were delivered to fishers between August and September.

Tablets purchased for the project. Photo: COBI

Grantee: MarAlliance.

Progress to date:

  • In Honduras, the team has started working on fish sampling to see distribution of snappers, grouper and other commercially important fishes. Fishes were purchased from local fishers and information collected such as: location, size, species ID, sex, stomach content among others. Results are being analyzed.
  • Five stakeholder meetings took place to socialize the project and plan the following activities with the team, two in Honduras and three in Belize.

Fish analyses in Honduras. Photo: MarAlliance

Communicating the scientific findings of the jewel of the mar.

Grantee: Fundación Mundo Azul (FUNMZ), Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI) & Pixan’Ja, Guatemala.

Progress to date:

  • An electronic survey was designed and shared by email to identify important stakeholders working in coral reefs in the Caribbean of Guatemala and more specifically in the Cayman Crown reef. It also included questions on their general knowledge about coral reefs in Guatemala and SCTLD, and if they work in the area or are planning to do so in the future. This will be useful to increase the conservation efforts in the area.
  • With the survey, a database was created with approximately 64 people from different sectors (NGOS, private, academia and government).
  • Photographs of corals are being received by partners in Guatemala who might have observed signs of diseases or bleaching in the reef. So far no disease was encountered, nor signs of stress.

Photo received from PanaDivers of the reef. No sign of diseases of stress. Photo: PanaDivers

Protecting the most Important Coral Reef in Guatemala – III

Grantee: Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación, Guatemala.

Progress to date:

  • Two patrolling activities took place in July. No illegal fishing was reported.
  • Three environmental education workshops took place in July. The first one was in the San Juan community where the main topic was Responsible Consumption and Fishing, the second and third were about Fish Replenishment Zones, in the Community of Punta de Manabique and El Limonar, respectively.

Environmental talk on Punta de Manabique. Photo: FUNDAECO

micro basin and San Juan strengthen their resilience in the RSMUA.

Grantee: EcoLogic Development Fund (ECOLOGIC), Guatemala.

Progress to date:

  • In May, the project was socialized with 35 men and 10 women from the communities of Playa Sarstún, Lo de En Medio II, Sarstún Creek and San Juan.
  • Three community meetings were held to select participants and volunteer promoters for the agroforestry strategy of the project. So far, nine volunteers were selected which will participate in the training regarding agroforestry systems and good practices in community production systems.
  • Three more community meetings were held for the selection, appointment and formation of women’s committees in the communities. So far, 14 women leaders were selected and the legalization of the committees is in process.

One of the meetings for the selection of women leaders. Photo: ECOLOGIC

Grantee: Asociación Multicultural de Mujeres para el Desarrollo Integral y Sostenible (AMMUDIS), Guatemala.

Progress to date:

  • In May, the project was socialized with 35 members of the communities of Vista Miramar, El Tono de la Virgen, Quehueche, Barique, Tampico and Livingston.
  • Planning meetings were held to define the program and coordinate on the following steps on how to implement good practices for the solid waste management and the aquatic cleaning train.
  • Four illegal dumpsters were identified. The organization will work on reducing the disposal of garbage and propose recycling of plastic materials which will be used for the production of goods to be sold in the community, as good practices.
  • A first approach with the communities took place to attend the creation of two environmental sanitation committees, a water cleaning train and a model neighbourhood for the classification of solid waste.

Socialization of the project with community leaders. Photo: AMMUDIS

Grantee: Polo’s Water Association.

Progress to date:

  • Polos’s expense history was presented. It is observed that they have spent more than US$ 34K in repairs and purchases of aerators in the plant without counting those of the lifting stations. This is due to various causes, such as electrical power shocks in the Island that damage the equipment. Various options are being taken into consideration to protect the equipment and improve the electrical system.
  • A water quality of the effluent and affluent, of the water treatment plant, was carried out. High nitrogen values were observed as well as low oxygen concentrations. It is expected that by implementing the fine bubble diffuser system, the oxygen values will improve. Moreover, the implementation of nitrification ponds will be the next step for implementing the efficiency of the plant.

Water quality analysis, measure of water parameters. Photo: POLO’s


Photo: Ana Giró

Oak Foundation continues to be an important partner and funder in the MAR. To provide further support and strengthen co-managers in the region, Oak Foundation gave MAR Fund a provision of sinking funds to on-going activities for a period of two to four years.

During this period, the last two grantees presented their final reports. Main results as shared below:

Grantee: Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI)

  • The 2020 Eco-Audit was launched virtually on March 10, 2021. The overall regional eco Audit score improved from 54% in the first Eco-Audit of 2011, to 62% in 2016 to 66% in 2020.

Virtual Eco-Audit 2020 presentation. Photo: HRI

  • HRI has strengthened their relationship with partners in the region by working closely on specific topics. Together with Centinelas del Agua (CDA), Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA) and Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW), a communication campaign, “Water, our right” was launched to broadcast human rights access to water and important facts about water, laws and policies and ecosystem connectivity.
  • To be able to understand the stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD), HRI developed webinars to share general overview of the disease and its impacts on coral reefs, treatment efforts executed in Belize and what the MAR and Caribbean regions are doing to address this new threat, among others.

Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease webinar. Photo: HRI

Grantee: Southern Environmental Association (SEA)

  • In March 2020, the Laughing Bird Caye Gift Shop closed as the country underwent COVID-19 measures. On March 1, 2021 the gift shop was opened following the measures from the Ministry of Health regarding the curfew, physical distancing, mandatory masks and maximum number of people in groups.

Safety measures signs placed at Laughing Bird Caye National Park. Photo: SEA

  • SEA achieved the Gold Standard, a certification needed to receive visitors, as per the guidelines provided by the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) to minimize the spread of COVID-19. This allows them to reopen the protected areas (tourism destination), which in turn will secure income through visitations.

Gold Standard Certification. Photo: SEA


Photo: Alan Marquardt/Ocean Agency



MAR Fund’s social media followers up to September 30, 2021:








+62 videos