First MAR Fund Staff Strategic Meeting

From February 15 through 19, 2016, MAR Fund held its first staff strategic meeting in Antigua Guatemala. The technical and administrative persons from each of our four member funds participated. Eighteen people in total were gathered together during five hard-working days with the following objectives:

 

  • To exchange relevant information about all of MAR Fund’s programs and projects,
  • To define the specific roles of each participant, in the Project Conservation of Marine Resources in Central America,
  • To review the main tools of the Project

 

The most important results of the meeting were:

  • Greater integration between the technical and administrative staff responsible for the follow-up and monitoring of the Project,
  • The roles of each participant was clearly defined,
  • Analysis of the overall execution of the Project,
  • Exchange of experiences between all participants, and
  • Action Plan for the execution and follow-up of the Project.

Conservation of Marine Resources in Central America Project

Phase I

We are on the final stretch of this phase of the Project, and the four protected areas have developed most of their final activities. A very important challenge now is to coordinate and ensure that the main conservation activities continue after the Project is completed. The implementers are discussing this continuity with key stakeholders and NGOs that have the capacity to accomplish this.


In Yum Balam, Mexico, the institutional strengthening continued through capacity building for park rangers, resulting in an improvement on the development of their management skills. They also increased the number of demarcation and mooring buoys, protecting the coral reef patches and minimizing negative impacts from anchors. Three thousand 405 lobster shades were registered and 1,700 of these were mapped. Three community groups were legally established: Cooperativa Sirenas del mar, Organización de la Sociedad Civil Manaholchi and Organización de la Sociedad Civil Alma Verde Holbox. These groups now can request funds and have formally requested to be part of the protected area´s Advisory Committee. Twelve hotels were involved in good sustainable practices regarding waste management.

In Port Honduras Marine Reserve, Belize, the rock wall was completed for the protection of Abalone Caye, which hosts the field station of the organization. This, indirectly, also strengthened the control and surveillance program, since the station is the headquarters from which every patrol is organized and coordinated. The women group of Punta Negra, working in the cultural kitchen developed, received a close follow-up by a mentor, who supported with capacity building to strengthen and improve its results: better service – higher income. Nine community youths from Monkey River were trained as tour guides. TIDE began conversations with the Norweigan Cruise Company to employ these guides

Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, in Guatemala, developed an innovative training course to strengthening skills for park rangers. It was imparted by the Andragogic Autonomous University of Miami. An activity called the Motagua Initiative was implemented to create a dialogue and discussion space to propose concrete solutions towards the management of the Motagua River and reduce the solid waste problem it has. The Motagua Forum was developed at the end of 2016 and gathered several organizations from the public sector and the organized civil society. The Management Plan has been finalized and submitted to the central office of the National Council of Protected Areas

In Sandy Bay West End Special Marine Protection Zone, Roatan, Honduras, the water quality monitoring program continued, which contributed to the sanitation plan. This plan began with a pilot project executed by the Polo’s Water Association jointly with the Bay Islands Conservation Association (BICA) and the Half Moon Water Board. The project included the repairing and equipment of the Water Treatment Plant. Since this pilot project went so well, a second phase was also implemented and this connected 31 properties into the sewage system. These two phases leveraged US$60,000 additional funds from the Coral Reef Alliance to connect 33 more properties in the system

Phase II

The areas pf Phase II of the Project have implemented field activities for a year and a half now. Although the kick-off was a little slow, the implementers have progressed and have achieved important results to date.


The Manatee Sanctuary State Reserve, in Mexico, administrated by the Secretary of Ecology and Environment (SEMA), recently opened two internet centers for Raudales and Laguna Guerrero, two communities near the Mammal Rehabilitation Center (CARMA) – their headquarters. They have made an important alliance with El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), a Mexican University, for the research and monitoring programs. They are also working together in monitoring activities with the Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, their neighbor Belizean protected area, with whom they share the Chetumal Bay. Finding the right partners to support with the implementation of key activities is a sustainability goal for the projects implementers. These two protected areas are coordinately tracking the displacements of Daniel, a rehabilitated manatee that swims from one area to the other.

In Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize, the Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD), co-manager of the area, purchased a piece of land to build their office, as they are currently working on a small rented building which does not meet the conditions of a basic office. To purchase the land, they signed a cooperation agreement with the Forest Department, administrator of the area. With this agreement, the protected area’s administrator is guaranteed to have a space within this new office. To strengthen their work as a co-administrator, two park rangers and eight community researchers were trained in engines repair and monitoring skills, respectively. As said before, they are working monitoring activities jointly with SEMA, in Mexico.

South Water Caye Marine Reserve in Belize, the other Belizean area targeted by the project, developed the erosion study for Twin Cayes, where their marine station is located. The result of the study recommends that a rock wall made with gabion baskets is the solution to stop the erosion. Although the recommendation is valid, an external expert also recommended to develop a wave study to understand the height of the rock wall. Meanwhile, the protected area is working with the community in its capacity building in scuba diving, tourism and coral reef restoration.


Río Sarstún Multiple Use Area, in Guatemala, co-managed by FUNDAECO, is supporting the Barra Sarstún community, within the protected area, with an economic alternative activity: a community restaurant. The people of the community are very happy and enthusiastic about this project. In order to strengthen the community participation in the management of natural resources FUNDAECO updated the Environmental Education Plan of the area and celebrated the ocean day (June 08), involving community members – children and elders.

Turtle Harbour/Rock Harbour Special Marine Protection Zone, managed by the Honduran NGO BICA–Utila, implemented the water quality and reef monitoring programs. They trained 26 people from different organizations that now support the monitoring exercises that the regional Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI) does in Honduras. They monitored nine sites in Utila and their results will be included in the 2017 HRI report card. They continue to work on the eradication of lionfish by promoting derbies and the consumption of this species. BICA has done an extraordinary work promoting the recycling of glass bottles and its transformation into glasses. This activity is also supporting BICA’s sustainability as they are able to sell this glasses in restaurants and bars of the island.

The two protected areas of Guatemala, Punta de Manabique (Phase I) and Río Sarstún (Phase II), participated in the Diploma of Leadership and Entrepreneurship for Park Rangers, taught and certified by the Andragogic Autonomous University of Miami,, in order to strengthen teamwork, expand theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as their skills and abilities to carry out their work in the field.

MAR Fund Small Grants Program

Seventh Request for Proposals
Development of Initiatives for better management of Coastal and Marine Protected Areas in the Mesoamerican Reef

The nine projects approved during the 7th RfP all finalized. Listed below you will find some of the preliminary results achieved by several of these projects to date:

A practical approach to long-term lionfish control: developing Belize’s national lionfish exploitation strategy; Fisheries Department, Belize.

 

  • Fifty sites surveyed in Bacalar Chico (11), South Water Caye (12), Port Honduras (8), Caye Caulker (8) and Hol Chan (11)
    • PHMR: no lionfish found
    • SWCMR: 25 ind/ha (shallow) vs. 2 ind/ha (deep)
    • BC – CC – HCh: 3.8 ind/ha
  • Seven promotional events were developed in total:
    • Caye Caulker – event organized by Oceana, BV’s lionfish jewelry-making
    • Belize City – fishing tournament
    • Sarteneja – BV’s lionfish ceviche competition, Easter Regatta and Baptist High school Open Day
  • Key results are that lionfish densities are relatively low, highest in SWCMR, and significantly more abundant within no take zones.

Strengthening the network of fish refuges by involving youths in better fishing practices in the Gulf of Honduras; TRIGOH, Guatemala.

 

  • Six communities were targeted for this project: Cocolí and Santa Isabel (Guatemala), Masca and Paraíso (Honduras), and Punta Gorda and Monkey River (Belize).
  • Thirty seven youths were pre-selected for the Project. At the end, eleven were selected to get involved in conservation and coastal and marine resources management, distributed as follows: 4 from Belize, 4 from Guatemala and 3 from Honduras
  • Eight training modules were taught to the eleven youths with the objective of supporting young fishermen to understand the importance of a regional work for the biological corridors that exist in a small area such as the Gulf of Honduras
  • The training guide ‘Youth for the Fishing Zones of the Gulf of Honduras’ was developed.

In Honduras, the Coastal Marine GEF Project is interested in replicating this project and incrementing youths participation.

Pilot project to restore the Guatemalan Caribbean corals: exploring the feasibility and its potential as a tool for management and conservation; FUNDAECO, Guatemala.

 

  • A total of 360 fragments (180 Porites and 180 Agaricia) were planted
  • Four monitoring exercises to measure growth were done.
  • Results: invasion of algae and sponges, creating stress in the fragments
  • There was no significant growth in the coral fragments, due to:
    • Nonfunctional nursery design – allowed algae growth
    • Foudara, unsuitable site
    • Cabo Tres Puntas, subject of theft
    • Fragment fixation, not the best choice

Promoting the integrated management of Laguna Guaymoreto Wildlife Refuge; FUCAGUA, Honduras.

 

  • The monitoring protocol for sea grass was adapted from the Seagrass-Watch Manual and validated with the Biology Department of the Centro Universitario Regional del Litoral Atlántico (CURLA)
  • The baseline on the reef health status was measured: 22 coral species and 45 fish species identified
  • 445 people (216 men and 229 women) were trained in tourism
  • The Public Use Plan (PUP) was approved by the Forest Conservation Institute (ICF), the protected areas authority.
  • An interinstitutional Committee was integrated by public and private institutions and community organizations to implement the PUP.

Managing ecosystems and promoting economic alternatives in the fisheries recovery site of Paraiso Muchilena – PAMUCH; Cuerpos de Conservación de Omoa (CCO), Honduras

 

  • PAMUCH (Paraiso-Muchilena-Chachaguala) was legally established on December 09, 2015.
  • A tourist trail was designed in Villa Chachaguala (community involved in PAMUCH). A galley was built and equipped. Two boats were reconditioned.
  • A business plan was developed for the tourist trail.

Degree in Participatory Management of Marine Protected Areas of the Mexican Caribbean; Moxviquil, Mexico.

 

  • Four modules were taught:
    • Doing and being a Ranger, held in Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve
    • MPA and territory governance, held in Tulum National Park
    • Participatory management of MPA, held again in Tulum National Park, and
    • Conflict management in MPA, held in Arrecife de Xcalak National Park
  • Nineteen people (11 men and 8 women) from 15 marine protected areas completed the diploma
  • The modules were replicated in 10 protected areas
  • Four Social Participation strategies were designed

Gallery Photos

Eighth Request for Proposals
Supporting and Strengthening the Management of Coastal and Marine Protected Areas in the Mesoamerican Reef

All of the seven proposals recommended for approval by the Grants Review Committee were willing to adjust their projects to all the recommendations made. After signing the grant agreements with the member funds, the disbursements were made and the implementers began field activities.

 

Some of the preliminary results of some of the projects to date are:

Building the capacities of MPA partners and traditional fishers to monitor and steward marine megafauna in Honduras. Developed by MarAlliance

 

  • 69 Baited Remote Underwater Videos (BRUVs) and 50 Underwater Visual Surveys (UVCs) conducted.
  • Three monitoring trainings to 12 artisanal fishers and 14 MPA monitors
  • Monitoring exercises developed with these fishers
  • Education campaign: 950 children and 28 primary school teachers

Two National Shark Advisory Committee (integrated by 11 organizations – authorities, academia and NGOs) meetings to establish monitoring collaborations have been undertaken

Consolidation of the General Register of Fishermen of four marine areas of Honduras. Developed by Centro de Estudios Marinos (CEM)

 

  • The registration tool was validated during a workshop with DIGEPESCA and SAG (national authorities) from San Pedro Sula, Roatán, Trujillo, Puerto Lempira, San Lorenzo and Tela.
  • The registration was disseminated nationwide (northern coast) using radio spots, banners, leaflets and posters in all the regional offices of DIGEPESCA
  • Ten regional offices of DIGEPESCA have been equipped and strengthened
  • More than 3,300 fishermen have been registered

Economic valuation of the mangrove ecosystem for sustainable fisheries at three sites in Rio Sarstún Multiple Use Area (Cocolí, Buena Vista and Barra Sarstún) and the town of Livingston. Developed by FUNDAECO

 

  • Presentation of the project to local authorities and communities
  • Participatory workshop with fishermen groups from Río Sarstún and Livingston to prioritize commercial value species to work with during the Project: shrimp and snook.
  • Information of landings was collected from Barra Sarstún, Cocolí, San Juan and Buena Vista villages
  • Three permanent plots for mangrove health monitoring were stablished in Laguna Grande, Lagunita Creek and Sarstún Creek

Assessment and monitoring of hatchling and juvenile sea turtle ecosystems in Yum Balam. Developed by Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatan (PPY)

 

  • Eighty six satellite images to identify sargassum aggregation zones have been downloaded (from the USGST) for analysis
  • Three study transects have been stablished in Yum Balam.
  • Four monitoring exercises were done in two of these three transects
  • A total of 700 lineal Km have been monitored covering approximately 135,000 Has with 342 sargassum sightings
  • Through the installation of 15 temperature sensors, the average temperature registered is 27.42C (Max: 30.69C, Min: 23.27C)
  • The time the turtles take to go back to the water after nesting (with and without sargassum on the beach) is being monitored (292 turtles in sargassum free zones and 210 turtles in sargassum zones)

Gallery Photos

The Overbrook Foundation

Once again, to support the projects approved during the 8th MAR Fund’s RfP, the Overbrook Foundation collaborated with US$25,000.

 

We are honored and grateful to continue having them on board, as one of the key partners that have helped us promote and support the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in the MAR region.

 

Thanks again Overbrook Foundation!

L’Orangerie Foundation

During the 8th RfP, the Grants Review Committee recommended ten proposals for approval. However, due to the amount of funding available, only seven were supported.

 

L’Orangerie Foundation requested MAR Fund the list of the proposals that were not supported due to unavailability of funds. In October, 2016, they expressed interest in supporting the proposal Sustainable Management of the Coastal and Marine Resources of the Fisheries Restoration Area PAMUCH, Cuyamel-Omoa National Park, Honduras, submitted by Cuerpos de Conservación de Omoa – CCO. This is the fourth phase of this project. With the full involvement of authorities and civil society in the previous three stages, the official declaration of the first fishing recovery site within the protected area was achieved. In December, Fondation de L’Orangerie confirmed the donation for € 24,631.

 

The grant agreement was signed and the disbursement was made to CCO in February, 2017.

 

L’Orangerie Foundation has supported key projects in the region and we are very grateful with them!

Ninth Request for Proposals
Supporting and Strengthening the Management of Coastal and Marine Protected Areas in the Mesoamerican Reef

On July 9th, 2016, the French Global Environment Facility, the Government of Germany through KfW, the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation and the Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund) launched the 9th Request for Proposals (RfP).

 

The general objective of this RfP was to contribute to the conservation of the ecological functions of the Mesoamerican Reef System.

The three specific objectives were:

 

  1. To support the protection and conservation of coastal and marine ecosystems in priority areas.
  2. To promote the participation of civil society in best management practices and sustainable use of coastal and marine resources.
  3. To strengthen communication and exchanges for effective adoption of new practices.

 

The deadline for submission of proposals was on September 16, 2016. By that date, 31 proposals were submitted distributed as follows: 15 from Mexico, three from Belize, eight from Guatemala and five from Honduras.

 

The Grants Review Committee met on January 26, 2017, and recommended nine proposals for approval of the Board of Directors, if they agreed with the recommendations made to them.

 

All of them agreed to the recommendations and the process of signing grant agreements and making the initial disbursements is currently on going.

The nine projects approved are:

 

  1. Management planning for two sites in the Southern Belize Barrier Reef Complex. To be developed by the Southern Environmental Association – SEA.
  2. Characterization and valorization of sea grass of the Protected Marine Area of Laguna de Guaimoreto Wildlife Refuge. To be developed by the Atlantida Regional Studies Center – CURLA.
  3. Improvement of Participatory Environmental Management in the Turtle Harbor / Rock Harbor Special Marine Protection Zone. To be developed by the Honduran Environmental Law Institute – IDAMHO.
  4. Conservation of the MAR through best practices of sustainable tourism in the Banco Chinchorro RB and PN Reefs of Xcalak. To de developed by Amigos de Sian Ka’an – ASK.
  5. Mitigation of Climate Change and Protection of Blue Carbon Sinks in Yum Balam: Analysis Phase. To be developed by the Mexican Center of Environmental Law – CEMDA.
  6. Conservation of Reproductive Fish Aggregations on Cozumel Island. To be developed by Comunidad y Biodiversidad – CoBi.
  7. Diploma in Participatory Management of Marine Protected Areas of the Mexican Caribbean and Community of Learning between generations. To be developed by Moxviquil.
  8. Program of rescue and restoration of corals with community participation in the Reefs of Cozumel. To be developed by Oceanus.
  9. Monitoring of critical marine habitats for feeding and inter-nesting of sea turtles in Yum Balam. To be developed by Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatan – PPY.

Angell Foundation

We are thrilled to continue having the support from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation. By mid-last year they confirmed the approval of a proposal submitted to them. This generous grant of US$40,000 increased the total funding available for the ninth request for proposals. This will support at least one of the approved projects.

 

Thank you Angell Foundation!

Additional Projects

Improving Resilience through Coral Restoration in No-Take Areas, Phase II. Developed by OCEANUS.

 

The final results of the project are:

 

  • More than 6,500 new colonies have been planted in ten different restoration sites (Puerto Morelos, Tulum, Mayakobá, Sian ka’an South and Xcalak)
  • Effect of higher number of colonies in sites: fish community increased from 7 to 10 ind/100m2
  • 70% of survival rate
  • Three additional restoration groups were integrated (Xcalak, Puerto Morelos and Akumal)

Expanding Managed Access into Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Northern Belize. Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD)

 

  • Establishment of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee for Corozal Bay
  • Two meetings held since its inception
  • Guadalupe Rosado, from the Belize Tourism Industry Association, member of the Committee, joined the SACD Board.
  • Five preliminary zones have been proposed as fish recovery sites
  • 9 patrols per week
  • Seventy-three joint patrols developed (Coast Guard, Fisheries Department, Forest Department)

We will keep you updated on all of these projects’ progress.

The Mesoamerican Reef Rescue Initiative

We are so excited to tell you that, thanks to the generous support of the German Government through the KfW, recovering damaged and degraded reefs in the region, through a concerted effort, is a tangible possibility.

 

The objective is 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 two approaches the initiative will address are:

 

  1. Continuous Restoration. Based on coral nursery techniques, cultivating coral fragments to be transferred to reef areas that have been degraded or damaged.
  2. Emergency Response. Response to hurricanes or ship groundings. In this case, the objective is to recover and attach live coral fragments––which would die if they remained buried in sand

The general initiative strategies and results are:

 

  1. To ensure sustainable long-term funding for continuous and emergency restoration through the establishment of an Emergency Fund and other innovative mechanisms such as, for example, creating insurance mechanisms for reefs;
  2. To support and develop reef restoration and rehabilitation in the region;
  3. To develop alternative sources of income and new employment opportunities for local communities, based on resource conservation;
  4. To promote the commitment of governments from all four countries in the region through the development of policies and regulations aimed at facilitating the restoration of the reefs.

The initiative will be developed by MAR Fund through three mechanisms: a) MAR Fund Investment Committee, b) Technical Project Committee (TPC), and c) Executing Unit.

 

In January 2017, Claudia Ruiz began working at MAR Fund as the Executing Unit’s Coordinator. She organized, prepared material and carried out the first TCP meeting in Chetumal, Mexico, from March 29 – 30. During the meeting, the TCP approved very important activities to be developed in 2017.

 

Stay tuned for more news regarding this innovative initiative!.

The Belize Marine Fund—Enhancing Financial Sustainability for Mesoamerican Reef Conservation

We are very happy to tell you that The Oak Foundation has chosen the MAR Fund as the recipient of its $10 million challenge grant to endow the Belize Marine Fund (BMF).

 

While the $10M gift is contingent on the MAR Fund raising an additional $15M, Oak will make $500K available for marine conservation annually for five years as the MAR Fund raises the matching funds. We welcome and will actively be seeking the support of other foundations, individuals, bi-lateral and multi-lateral agencies as we raise the required match.

 

Oak’s contribution adds to endowment support already granted to MAR Fund by the German Government through the KfW and the French Global Environment Fund (FFEM). MAR Fund acknowledges also the start-up support provided by WWF, who sparked this regional mechanism, The Summit Foundation -the angel investor who supported the organization’s beginning of operations- and all other donors that have kindly contributed to the conservation of this region.

 

We are honored by this gift and thankful for the confidence and trust that Oak has placed in us!

Angeline Valentine, former staff of the Oak Foundation, was hired as the MAR Fund’s Belize Marine Fund Officer.

Re-granting in the Mesoamerican Reef

Oak Foundation requested MAR Fund for a specific proposal to manage seven projects that several organizations are still running in the MAR region over the next 2-4 years. The donor requested that this initiative be handled from a central executing unit in the MAR Fund office.

 

Plans were drawn up for the operation of the Small Grants Program of the MAR Fund and the proposed mechanism for administering the seven projects.

 

The proposal document requested by Oak was sent for the administration of these projects, for a total amount of US $ 2 Million for up to four years. Oak Foundation approved the “re-granting” proposal and the charter was signed on August 22, 2016. Cynthia Pérez was hired as MAR Fund’s Re-granting Officer.

 

The grantees of this re-granting are HRI, ELAW and CEM, which are regional initiatives; and CoBi (Mex), SEA, TIDE and SACD (Bez). Only HRI has begun field activities, the other initiatives are still under revision, but almost ready to begin.

Again, we are very grateful to Oak Foundation’s confidence!.

BothENDS and GAGGA

BothENDS, a dutch organization that is focused on strengthening grassroots organizations around sustainable solutions for environmental and poverty issues, contacted MAR Fund last year to work together in Guatemala and Honduras through the initiative Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action – GAGGA. GAGGA is an association that supports local partnerships on issues of environmental justice and women’s rights.

The proposal was approved for US$50,000.

 

On October 28, MAR Fund launched the request for proposals Support and strengthening of women’s groups in initiatives for climate change adaptation and environmental justice in the Mesoamerican Reef (Honduras and Guatemala).

 

Eleven proposals were received and evaluated by an ad hoc committee. Of these, seven were approved, three from Honduras and four from Guatemala. They have all signed grant agreements and are currently under implementation.

 

MAR Fund submitted a proposal to support women rights through actions for climate change adaptation in communities of priority protected areas in Honduras and Guatemala.

The approve projects are:

 

  1. Diploma on Leadership of Afro-Honduran Women for Territory Defense against Climate Change. To be developed by ODECO.
  2. Visibilizing the role of women in advocacy processes, in the management and self-sustainability of community groups in defense of natural resources and the right to water. To be developed by CCO – Honduras.
  3. Strengthening of Women’s Leadership, with emphasis on Political Advocacy, Environmental Justice and Rights. To be developed by Medicusmundi/ASODOC.
  4. Women engaged in artisanal fishing improve and diversify their family economy. To be developed by AGRIPESCA – Guatemala.
  5. Building coastal communities resilient to climate change with participation of women from the Sarstún region. To be developed by AMMUDIS – Guatemala.
  6. Strengthening capacities of Q’eqchi women and a group of Garífuna women leaders as a strategy to promote the sustainable management of natural resources in the Rio Sarstún Multiple Use Zone. To be developed by Ak’tenamit.
  7. Creation of the Permanent Forum of Environmental Justice for the Caribbean Coast of Guatemala. To be developed by ADA2.

 

Another grant for US$50,000 was also made by GAGGA to Tierra Viva, a Honduran NGO. They launched another request for proposals and are supporting ten additional projects. The entire grant of US$100,000 is administrated by MAR Fund.

Third Connectivity Network Workshop

The third workshop of the Connectivity Network was undertaken in Cancun, Mexico, from July 12 – 13, 2016. Twenty-one persons participated on the workshop, and 11 protected areas of the MAR were represented.

 

During the meeting, the Organizing Committee of the network presented a summary of all activities done by them and the network since its inception in 2010. They also presented the main results of the first four connectivity exercises (ECOME) done simultaneously within the region, including biological and biophysical aspects.

 

The protected areas presented the results, benefits and challenges that the connectivity exercises done to date have represented for them, and also talked about the future vision towards these exercises. It was very rewarding to see that all of the areas are pleased with the information that the exercises have provided them, and are willing to continue participating in them.

As a result of this, the date for the fifth ECOME was schedule for August 29 – September 06, and 11 areas signed in to participate which were:

 

    1. Yum Balam.
    2. Isla Contoy.
    3. Arrecifes de Puerto Morelos.

 

  • Sian Ka’an.
  • Bacalar Chico.
  • Port Honduras.
  • Río Sarstún.
  • Punta de Manabique.
  • Sandy Bay West End.
  • Turtle Harbor / Rock Harbor.

 

 

The results of the five exercises are being consolidated in a single report and will shortly be shared and disseminated.

Visit from the German Cooperation and the KfW

During the week of July 25 – 29, Lydia Andler, Regional Director of KfW for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, BCIE and the Caribbean, Mr. Thomas Cieslick, Chief of Cooperation of the German Embassy in Belize and Guatemala, and Mr. Manuel Lorenzana, Local Representative of KfW in Guatemala, made a field visit to Port Honduras Marine Reserve, in Belize, and Río Sartsún Multiple Use Area and Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, in Guatemala.

 

The objective of the visit was to meet the key actors and the programs/activities supported with the Project Conservation of Marine Resources in Central America.

 

During the visit, several sites where funds from the Project have been invested were visited. In addition, meetings with the operative staff of TIDE, FUNDAECO-Amantes de la Tierra and CONAP were held to learn their experience directly from them.

 

Besides learning of the progress of the Project, the trip was useful to confirm the assistance of Mrs. Andler, as speaker, to the Blue Economy Panel that was developed during the Donors Forum of the Seattle International Foundation in September, 2016.

The Seattle International Foundation

seatle-international-foundation

Since March, 2016, conversations were held between the directors of The Summit Foundation and the Seattle International Foundation (SIF) with MAR Fund to discuss the donor forum that SIF has been implementing for the last four years for Central America. These events bring together more than 200 leaders from different sectors: private, philanthropic, media, government and civil society to discuss priority issues for the region, learn about successful development models, meet leaders working in the region and explore co-investment for impact in Central America. As a result of these discussions, SIF decided to include the environment in the agenda of the Central American Donors Forum 2016.

 

The specific topic chosen was blue economy and adaptation to climate change, to be presented through a panel organized by MAR Fund.

 

From September 28 – 30, the Fifth Central American Donors Forum was held in Antigua Guatemala, which included the panel on blue economy and adaptation to climate change. The following participated as panelists: Lydia Andler, KfW; Steve Box, Smithsonian Institution; Luis Bourillon, Marine Stewardship Council and Lorenzo Rosenzweig, FMCN / RedLAC / MAR Fund. María José Gonzalez was the moderator.

Caribbean – Pacific Alliance

We are so glad to inform you that the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund, the Pacífico Platform and the MAR Fund, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the Caribbean – Pacific Alliance for Finances of Marine Conservation.

 

The official launch of the Alliance was made during the RedLAC Annual Assembly held in Brazil, in November, 2016.

 

The three organizations are currently developing a mentoring project financed by the Project K of RedLAC, which will enable them to successfully bring more financial resources for marine protected areas in Central America and the Caribbean.

COP 13 – Tulum +20

In the month of July, 2016, the first meeting to organize, originally three, side events for the 13th Conference of the Parties of Biodiversity – COP13, took place in Cancun, Mexico.

 

The participating organizations were the MAR Leadership Program, the Healthy Reefs Initiative and the MAR Fund. Jose Luis Funes, at that time Delegate of the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) in Quintana Roo, also participated in the meeting.

 

During this meeting, three side events that had been discussed were planned: 1) Dinner / tasting for people who would participate in the high level event of the first days of the COP, 2) Internal side event (in the COP 13 security area), and 3) External side event.

As a result of good coordination, two side events were held under the name Securing Wellbeing in the Mesoamerican Reef through the Blue Economy. These events were held on December 5 and 6 at the Cancun Convention Center and the Moon Palace Hotel (COP headquarters), respectively. On December 5, 70 people were present and on the 06, 60. José Luis Funes participated in his new role as General Director of Wildlife of SEMARNAT, who opened and closed the events.

Both events began with the video “Blue Heart”. Gina De Ferrari, a member of MAR Fund Board of Directors, made the introduction and spoke about the progress in the region since the signing of the Tulum Agreement in 1997. She proposed the blue economy approach to the future, where effective protection and sustainable use of “blue” resources can be the pillars for rural and urban development in the four countries. There were also presentations on the three regional initiatives: HRI, MAR Leadership and MAR Fund.

The event of December 5 was detailed and counted with the participation of what was called “Voices from the field”. Presentations were made by Celia Mahung (Belize), Gabriela Nava (Mexico), Ian Drysdale (Honduras) and Ana Giró (Guatemala). María del Carmen García, from CONANP, made a presentation on marine protected areas as the basis for a blue economy in Quintana Roo.

Lorenzo Rosenzweig, MAR Fund’s Chairman, spoke about the twentieth anniversary of the Tulum Declaration in 2017 as an opportunity to ratify collaboration on conservation and sustainable use of resources among the four countries that share the region. He launched a petition to raise 1 million signatures to urge the heads of state of the four countries to ratify the Tulum Declaration in 2017 and commit to taking the following actions necessary for a healthy reef in the future:

 

  1. Follow Mexico’s lead in putting the MAR ecosystem waters completely off limits to oil exploration and extraction.
  2. Support municipalities in developing and maintaining the infrastructure needed to effectively treat sewage to levels agreed to in the Cartagena Convention, which should be ratified and implemented by all 4 countries.
  3. Promote and facilitate the creation and improved enforcement of fish replenishment areas..
  4. Protect blue carbon sinks: mangroves and sea grasses, and explore potential new financing mechanisms based on blue carbon.

 

 

Before launching this petition, the Ministries of Environment of the four countries were given a heads-up of the initiative.

 

After long discussions and very hard work, the petition was launched on March 10, 2107, for being the day of the Mesoamerican Reef. It was posted on the web page of the MAR Leadership Program, MAR Fund, Fondo Mexicano and other several environmental partners.

Visit from FFEM

From December 8 – 13, Constance Corbier-Barthaux, Biodiversity Officer of the Secretariat of the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM) of the French Development Agency, visited several projects that were financed through the MAR Fund’s Small Grants Program.

 

The first project to be addressed in Mexico, in Cozumel, was the Sustainable Lobster Project, implemented by the NGO RAZONATURA. It had two consecutive grants, during the second and third request for proposals. These were developed between 2009 and 2011.

 

The second project was the Shark Conservation and Monitoring Project, implemented by the NGO Comunidad y Biodiversidad (CoBi). This was financed during the sixth request for proposals, developed between 2014 and 2015. The third and last project in Mexico, was the Fish Replenishment Site Project. This was supported during the fourth request for proposals between 2012 and 2013. This projects were not exactly visited, however, a meeting with Stuart Fullton, CoBi’s Marine Reserve Coordinator, who kindly explained how these two projects were developed. He is perfectly aware of the current situation of the replenishment zones in the Mexican Caribbean.

The first project to be addressed in Guatemala was the Community Strengthening Project. This was supported during the seventh request for proposals, developed between 2015 and 2016. They had recently finished its implementation. The project was developed in two protected areas: Rio Sarstun Multiple Use Area in Guatemala, and Sarstoon Temash National Park in Belize.

 

The Fish Replenishment Sites Project was the second one visited in Guatemala and was implemented during 2013 and 2014, supported through the fifth request for proposals. This had follow-up support through the Summit Foundation. Staff from FUNDAECO explained the ´project during the field visit.

 

The last project visited was in Honduras and it was supported during three consecutive requests for proposals: 5th, 6th and 7th. It was developed between 2013 and 2016. The project established the first fish recovery site in the Cuyamel Omoa National Park. The fourth phase of this initiative has recently began and it is focusing in the coordinated control and surveillance efforts and the support of alternative economic activities for the communities that have been involved since the beginning.

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