July 2019 Update

Conservation of Marine Resources in Central America Project

Project Phase II

Progress in each protected area.

The construction of the second access guard control house in Calderas Barlovento community was completed. The group of community guardians perform two visits per month for control and surveillance and, in addition, for the general cleaning of the area.


 Photo 1 – View of the guard control house. Photos: IBANQROO and Ana Beatriz Rivas/MAR Fund



 Photo 2 – View of the guard control house. Photos: IBANQROO and Ana Beatriz Rivas/MAR Fund .



 Three community guardians from Calderas Barlovento, Builder and IBANQROO and MAR Fund staff.


During the first semester of 2019 and with matching funds, 17 land patrols and 20 aquatic patrols were implemented. These activities were developed in coordination with the Attorney General’s Office for Environmental Protection (PPA, by its acronym in Spanish), the Public Security Secretariat and the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (SSP and CONAPESCA, by their acronyms in Spanish, respectively), the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA, by its acronym in Spanish). Thirty-three crab traps were confiscated, one mangrove deforestation for retaining wall construction was denounced achieving the total closure of the affected site, and looting of stone was also denounced.


Deforested mangrove area. Photo: IBANQROO



Looting of stone. Photo: IBANQROO


Three training courses were developed to strengthen the biological monitoring, surveillance and protected area management skills of IBANQROO staff. One of the courses was “Training and implementation of the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) software as a tool for strengthening control, surveillance and monitoring in the state protected areas of Quintana Roo. The purpose is to ensure that all state areas use SMART in their daily control and surveillance activities. The training was conducted by Julio Maaz, from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Belize.


Participants of the wetland course. Photos: IBANQROO



 Participants of the SMART course. Photos: IBANQROO


IBANQROO was part of the 8th Connectivity Exercise for the Mesoamerican Reef (ECOME), implemented in March. Eighteen collectors distributed in nine sites were monitored. Seven samples of fish larvae representing three families were collected and the collected data will be integrated into a regional report.


 Field team responsible for conducting the ECOME (ECOSUR and IBANQROO). Photo: IBANQROO



 Specimen of the Monacanthidae family, genus Monacanthus. Photo: IBANQROO


IBANQROO and El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) finished the water quality monitoring activities for the Project. As a result, a final report of the water quality that includes the two years of monitoring (2017-2018) in the four main bodies of water (Chetumal Bay, Laguna Guerrero, Chile Verde and Salada) was prepared. For the entire area, water quality improved from 2017 to 2018, mainly due to a decrease in the concentration of nitrates and ammonium. However, the increase in the concentration of phosphates and chlorophyll a, kept the body of water in a regular condition and a mesotrophic state.


 Photo 1 – IBANQROO staff performing water quality monitoring. Photo: IBANQROO.



Photo 2 – IBANQROO staff performing water quality monitoring. Photo: IBANQROO.


Joint activities such as water quality monitoring, control and surveillance patrols and coordination meetings continue between IBANQROO and Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD) in Belize.


Staff from SACD and IBANQRRO in a joint control and surveillance patrol. Photo: IBANQROO.


The Project supported the legal organization of three new community groups in the reserve. Two cooperatives (Tuunich-Há Barlovento and Yáalcab-Há) and a civil society (Xi’ipal Kana’an – Young people for the conservation and sustainable use of the Caribbean biodiversity). During this process, the community members received different trainings to adequately understand the meaning of a legal constitution and the commitments assumed with it.


Consultant Otilia Valenzuela trained the community groups.  Photos: IBANQROO



Community representative signs the legal constitution certificate. Photos: IBANQROO


During 2019, 535 national and international visitors were attended at the Mammal Rehabilitation Center (CARMA, by its acronym in Spanish), providing to them information about the reserve, its importance and benefits, flora and fauna of the protected area and the history of “Daniel” the manatee. At the same time, the reserve staff visited the schools of the region to show the students, the environmental education material designed for them.


Photo 1 – Children from different schools take advantage of the environmental education material. Photo: IBANQROO



Photo 2 – Children from different schools take advantage of the environmental education material. Photo: IBANQRO


With matching funds, the State Council for the management of natural protected areas of the state of Quintana Roo was installed in 2019. This Council will strengthen the participation of the different sectors in the management of the natural protected areas and contribute to their conservation.


State Council for the management of natural protected areas of the state of Quintana Roo. Photo: IBANQROO

Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD), acquired the material for the making and installation of marker buoys in the protected area.


Bouys Photo: SACD

As part of the research and monitoring program, SACD developed the fish catch assessments of commercial important species, by identifying important spawning and recruitment areas within CBWS through the gathering of data on ichthyoplankton (suspended fish eggs and larvae), and fish post-larvae (in settlement and recruitment phase).


FishCatch. Photo: SACD


As part of SACD´s communication strategy and to be able to share results with communities and partner organizations, SACD finalized and printed their annual report for 2017 and 2018.


FishCatch. Photo: SACD


As part of the alternative economic activities compatible with the environment, SACD presented three proposals: one for a Chunox fisher family focused on climate smart agriculture, one for the Sarteneja Pesca Tours Beach Trap Association focused in promoting ecotourism and one to reactivate the Water Taxi Services with the Sarteneja Tour Guide Association. The three projects were approved and feasibility studies and business plans were developed.


As part of the education and outreach program, SACD developed the Fihser´s Fair as part of their environmental education campaigns focusing on environmental awareness. SACD estimated a participation of more than 500 people from the three major stakeholder communities of CBWS (Chunox, Copper Bank and Sarteneja).


FishCatch. Photo: SACD


To involve the Sarteneja youth in the care of the area and as part of SACD´s Internship Program, two interns were contracted for three months with formal description of responsibilities, one directly supporting the Research and Monitoring Program and the other directly supporting the Education and Outreach Program.


FishCatch. Photo: SACD

As part of the investment in infrastructure, BFD, with support from MCCAP, developed a meeting with interested bidders for the containment and reclamation works. The meeting consisted in a visit to the area and now the bidders know where the works would be developed and understand the documentation and information needed to apply.


Photo: MAR Fund


Surveillance and enforcement activities continue to be carried out effectively with support from the Conservation and Compliance Unit (CCU) of the Fisheries Department. In this period a total of 133 patrols where carried, resulting in three charges for possession of undersize conch.


Photo: Belize Fishery Department (BFD)


As part of Belize Fisheries Department (BFD) monitoring and evaluation systems, they developed sea cucumber surveys, preliminary results of this survey show low densities which are not conducive to be harvested commercially.


Photo: Belize Fishery Department (BFD)

The Management Plan consultancy continues and the consultancy team has carried out a series of meetings and workshops for the creation of the plan. Up to the date the consultants have delivered the diagnostic and the management considerations components. Next steps are for them to deliver the operational component, regulatory and zoning component, monitoring and evaluation component and the wetlands Ramsar factsheet, for review.


Photo: MAR Fund

The consortium Fundación para el Eco Desarrollo y la Conservación – Asociación Amantes de la Tierra (FUNDAECO-AAT) continues developing their control and surveillance program, with support from Government Institutions (CONAP, the Directorate of Nature Protection (DIPRONA), the Caribbean Naval Command (CONACAR), the Navy Infantry Brigade (BIM)). In this period a total of 16 patrols, 13 land patrols and three marine were carried out. No illicit activity was reported in land patrols and in the marine patrols, one shrimp gillnet, two trawl nets and two buckets with shrimp were confiscated during closed season.




As part of the research and monitoring program, Fundaeco hired a consultant to develop the reef health monitoring in the buffer zone of the protected area using AGRRA methodology. The main results show that that the Foudara reef, due to its low coral cover (< 10%) and low herbivores and commercial fish biomass, is in a critical state of health, this being the lowest qualification of this methodology. However, during the last two monitoring exercises (2015-2016 and 2018-2019) there has been an increase of 1% (from 7% to 8%) in coral cover, which indicates that the site has a potential for recovery. The information contributes to the data published by Healthy Reefs Initiative in their report cards.


Photo: Ana Giró


As follow up to the productive activities supported, the Committee at Barra Cocolí has been stablished as a tourism Committee Asociación de Autogestión Turística Barra Cocolí (AUTBAC) and a restaurant infrastructure has been completed and the necessary equipment acquired.


Photo: MAR Fund


As part of the environmental education program, FUNDAECO has engaged approximately 1,250 students and teachers from the protected area and urban area of Livingston, who have learned about the importance of marine ecosystems and natural resources conservation.


Educación Ambiental
Photo: MAR Fund


The cacao plantations implemented in Plan Grande Tatín y Plan Grande Quehueche have been completed and the plant plots appear to be healthy. Technical assistance is still being provided by the Consortium forestry technician.



BICA – Utila installed six signage signs at strategic points of the island (municipal dock, airport and visitor center), including two signs within the protected area and one in Los Cayitos (Little islands of fishermen villages near Utila main island).




Signage on the island and the protected area. Photos: Ana Beatriz Rivas /MAR Fund


In coordination with the Forest Conservation Institute (ICF, by its Spanish acronym), BICA-Utila supported the socialization activities related to the updating of the Management Plan for the Bay Island National Marine Park. Three meetings were held in Utila and two in Guanaja, in which community members and local authorities participated.



Socialization activities in Los Cayitos. Photos: BICA-Utila.


The control and surveillance program continue, and 69 marine patrols were carried out with the support of the Honduran Navy. Because of the patrols, two complaints were filed for the illegal construction of piers. At the same time, a meeting was held among the Head of Municipal Justice, a Municipal Police Officer, BICA-Utila staff (Executive Director and Park ranger Coordinator) and the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) representative for Utila, to establish collaboration mechanisms that strengthen the Control and Surveillance Program.

BICA-Utila was part of the 8th Connectivity Exercise for the Mesoamerican Reef (ECOME), implemented in March. Seventeen persons between volunteers and staff participated, and 33 samples of fish larvae representing the families of Apogonidae, Tetraodontidae and Lutjanidae were collected.


Suriel Dueñas of BICA-Utila staff implements the ECOME. Photo: BICA-Utila



Sample of a labeled fish larvae. Photo: BICA-Utila


The water quality-monitoring program continues to be implemented by BICA-Utila staff and the Reef Leaders. Ten sites were monitored each month analyzing bacteriological and physicochemical parameters. The respective report is under development with the collaboration of BICA-Roatan.


Equipment acquired and used for water quality monitoring. Photo: BICA-Utila



Javier Segovia, BICA-Utila staff, collecting a sample of water. Photo: BICA-Utila


To prepare the BICA-Utila Visitor Center´s interpretative room, materials for exhumation of specimens, wooden display cabinets for the exhibition and informational materials such as banners were quoted and acquired. The exhumation and assembly of specimens was possible thanks to the support and advice of the Natural History Museum of Honduras, which in turn trained a Reef Leader in the assembly process.



Assembly of specimens at BICA-Utila Visitor Center and showcases. Photos: BICA-Utila and Ana Beatriz Rivas/MAR Fund



(a and b) Side view of the mini-museum. Poto: Ana Beatriz Rivas/MAR Fund


With the support of CORAL, BICA-Utila hired a consultant to promote the self-sustainability of the organization, create the “BICA–UTILA” brand, and strengthen the management of social networks. At the same time, with the support of the Project, the purchase of products for the eco-shop was possible and all the staff participates in the promotion and sale of these products directly in the eco-shop or in bazaars that occur on the island. BICA-Utila continues with the sale of paper cups and the recycling of glass bottles.



(a and b) Different products available at the eco-shop. Photo: BICA-Utila



BICA-Utila staff participating in bazaar events. Photo: BICA-Utila


On July 24, the event to socialize the results of the Project and its closure was held at BICA-Utila visitor center. Representatives from the Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD-DiBio), the Municipality of Utila and Fundación Biosfera, as well as collaborating partners such as CORAL, BICA-Roatan, Kanahau, ICF, UNAH-CURLA, DIGEPESCA, RMP and HRI, attended the event. At the same time, some sites of the island where BICA-Utila implemented the project activities were visited.


Edo Antúnez, BICA-Utila Executive Director, explains about the turtle monitoring and conservation in the Pumpink Hill beach. Photo: Lucy Calderón/MAR Fund



Walking through the Pumpink Hill beach in Utila. Photo: Lucy Calderón/MAR Fund



Plastic compaction and crushing center in Utila. Photo: Lucy Calderón/MAR Fund



Edo Antúnez shows one of the signage signs located on the island with the project’s support. Photo: Lucy Calderón/MAR Fund


BICA–Utila, together with the members of the National Committee for the Lionfish, held meetings to review and move forward with the activities of its action plan:

A Lionfish tasting was held at the National Biodiversity Congress in La Ceiba, Honduras, on June 13, to promote the consumption of the species. The Islander Restobar supported the elaboration of the dishes for this event.
A presentation to publicize the efforts made by the organization in relation to the control of the species, its ecology and impact on the ecosystem was made to participants of the National Biodiversity Congress and students of Ecotourism from UNAH-CURLA.



(a and b)  – National Committee members in the tasting of Lionfish in the National Biodiversity Congress. Photo: BICA-Utila.



(c and d) BICA-Utila Executive Director at the National Biodiversity Congress. Photo: BICA-Utila.

BICA-Utila continues with its environmental education activities at school centers of Utila town and Los Cayitos. Topics such as endangered species, coral reefs, endemic species, recycling and reusing, sea turtles, among others, were developed. In the Blue Classroom, Fridays are used to promote the Reading Club and watch documentaries with an environmental theme.





Different activities developed by students and volunteers, as part of BICA-Utila Environmental Education Program. Photo: BICA-Utila

An approach was achieved with the Coordinator of the Solid Waste Department of the General Directorate of Environment (DGA, by its acronym in Spanish) who expressed his interest in supporting the issue of solid waste management in Utila. As a result, in the week of July 15-19, a training was conducted on solid waste characterization, aimed at staff of the municipality and other organizations on the island. In addition, participants were trained in knowing the existing legal framework for the proper management of solid waste. Both activities were carried out with support from the Solid Waste Department and the environmental lawyer Laura Palmese from the Environmental Law Alliance Wolrdwide (ELAW).


Laura Palmese training participants. Photo: BICA-Utila



(b and c)  – Solid waste characterization with Municipality staff and technicians from Utila organizations. Photo: BICA-Utila

The Belize Marine Fund´s grants

The BMF currently has a portfolio of 13 active grants awarded between the periods of May 2017 – May 2018. These grants were awarded through the two programmatic windows for advancing investments 1) the Targeted Grants Program and 2) the Small Grants Program. The projects supported by these programs have been guided by priority areas of focus which were established with the BMF Steering Committee. Some of these priority areas include: efforts related to the expansion, management, monitoring, control and surveillance operations of no-takes; marine conservation policy; efforts related to managed access national roll-out, and improving management effectiveness of MPAs; strengthening the institutional capacity of marine conservation civil society organizations; climate change resilience, blue carbon and the blue economy; protection and restoration of fragile and degraded ecosystems; promotion of sustainable income-generation for local communities; and broad-based attitudinal and behavioral change for enhanced and effective marine resources management. Small grants are for a maximum of USD 30k and Targeted grants are for a maximum of USD 45k.


Below we provide a summary of project progress to date.

Targeted Grant Awards:


General Objective:
Building compliance for marine resources management at Lighthouse Reef Atoll (MA Area 7), through increased surveillance, enforcement and engaging resource users in the decision making process.


Project Progress:
BAS worked with the Belize Fisheries Department to vet applications for Managed Access license for Lighthouse Reef Atoll (Managed Access Area 7). The vetting process was carried out during a meeting which saw the participation of fishers from Belize City, Chunox, and Copper Bank, along with representatives from the Belize Fisheries Department, BAS, and Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association. Twenty two applications were reviewed of which only six new fishing licenses were approved. During this reporting period, BAS maintained its enforcement presence within the protected area, by working with the Belize Coast Guard to conduct a number of joint operations patrols; this included 238 joint patrols within managed access area 7; 60 joint patrols throughout the entire Lighthouse Reef Atoll; and 3 joint operations and at Spawning Aggregation sites with the marine reserve. During these patrols BAS encountered and boarded with a total of 131 fishing vessels, engaging with a total of 340 fishers.


Belize Audubon Society-Managed Access Committee Vetting License Application for Lighthouse Reef Atoll (Area 7)


Additionally, BAS has also maintained its boat-to-boat session. During those sessions the BAS team engaged 72 fishers around the review of Managed Access catch log books, and Fisheries Regulation, answering any questions fishers may have, and training some fishers (approximately 41) in the use of scales and caliper for enhanced fishers dependent data collection. Finally, in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), BAS has created at data model designed for recording Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE) data for lobster and conch, using the spatial monitoring and recording tool (SMART) platform. The organization purchased the devices necessary for upload of the SMART app, and since June 2019, has provided training to a small group of fishers (approximately 14 fishing vessels) on the use/piloting of the new SMART app for recording catch data.


Belize Audubon Society-Fisher on board the fishing vessel “Ericka” receiving training on the use of the new SMART app for recording catch data.

General Objective:
Supporting FoH’s reef restoration efforts at new and existing sites, while sustaining the monitoring of coral coverage by analyzing photo-mosaic data at key sites.


Project Progress:
During the life of this project FoH out planted 21,455 corals at its four target sites in southern Belize, namely Laughing Bird Caye National Park (LBCNP), South Silk Cayes, Moho Caye and False Caye. According to FoH, while the target of out planting 5,000 corals at each site was not met at South Silk Cayes—given an emphasis on direct outplanting of A. palmata micro-fragments versus the faster growing, nursery-reared A. cervicornis—the overall total target numbers were achieved.


FoH has been using photo-mosaics coupled with Coral Point Count software (CPCe) to measure changes in coral cover over time on six measured plots at LBCNP (2014-2018) and three measured plots at Moho Caye (2015-December 2017). According to FoH, notable findings has been at Launghing Bird Caye National Park (LBCNP), where five of the six plots now have 30->50% live coral cover from a baseline of < 6 %, and at Moho Caye (control unprotected site), where two of the three plots have tripled in coral cover in two years. On all but two of the nine measured plots coral cover has increased by >10%, with some sites increasing by as much as 15-20% annularly, without adding any additional corals. FoH further asserts that the two sites that did not show measurable increases were those hardest hit by Hurricane Earl in August 2016. However, all sites were unaffected by the extreme bleaching event in 2017, demonstrating thermal tolerance.


FoH also analyzed assemblages were assessed by visual census. The protocol design was meant to rigorously track and interpret changes in fish abundance and species composition over time in association with coral replenishment activities. According to FoH fish biomass values observed at LBCNP and on naturally regenerated cayes were high (>100g/m2), with the presence of large schools of blue tang, chub, and many large parrot fishes suggesting benefits of site protection within the areas where the replenished plots were placed at LBCNP.


General Objective:
To increase public awareness that will amplify knowledge of Belize’s marine resources, evoke behavioral change and build support for the national expansion of replenishment zones in Belize.


Project Progress:
Through this initiative, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has focused on increasing knowledge and promoting positive changes in the attitudes and behaviors of members of Belize’s fishing community. More specifically, Season 3 of the radio drama Punta Fuego and its complementary call-in show, Talking Fuego, aired 20 episodes. An impact survey to assess accomplishment of its knowledge, attitude, and behavior (KAB) goals revealed that listenership for Punta Fuego remained constant over the three seasons, while listenership for Talking Fuego increased notably during Season 3. Additionally, although listeners demonstrated an increase in knowledge regarding the benefits of replenishment zones (RZs) and positive behaviors, such as responsible fishing practices; surprisingly, the percentage of fishers who agreed that RZs should be expanded (in number and size), as well as those who believed there were benefits associated with RZ expansion had decreased over time.


To highlight the importance of MPA’s to Belize’s Conch Fishery, WCS also oversaw the development of a two-part news segment, “Conch Season in Danger of Premature Closing,” aired on News 5. The story covered the plight of the queen conch fishery within the Caribbean region. The central theme discussed in the segment was the lack of enforcement in Belize’s waters due to under-investment in enforcement agencies and the need for addressing illegal trans-boundary fishing. Through its Community mobilization campaign, WCS also conducted a boat to boat activity with fishers at GRMR to discuss issues related to MPA compliance, safety at sea and safety measures to reduce fishers’ vulnerability to criminals, and the promotion of Punta Fuego and Talking Fuego. While their community mobilization campaigns in Sarteneja, Belize City, Dangriga and Hopkins, served as a means to engage fishers in discussions regarding MPA compliance; safety at sea and safety measures to reduce fishers’ vulnerability to criminals; and the promotion of Punta Fuego and Talking Fuego.

In June 2019 WCS partnered with MCCAP to host the third annual Women in Fisheries Forum (WIFF). This year forum themed “Gender and the Ocean,” focused on climate change and its impact on the ocean and livelihoods. Hosted at Pelican Beach Resort in the beautiful fishing community of Dangriga, the forum saw the participation of over 35 women from 11 marine and inland fishing communities.



Women at WIFF learning about seaweed planting practices
Photo: WCS


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


Project Progress:

Over this reporting period, WWF concentrated its efforts on key interventions for advancing its goals under this project. The organization hosted a climate risk analysis workshop that allowed for the collecting of critical information such as priority climate change impacts and future risks to communities and ecosystem services; and benefits of ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) to support climate and ecosystem services analysis to guide adaptation efforts. While WWF’s efforts under this project is assisting in the carrying out of a snapshot economic impact assessment, during this session key representatives from the targeted MPAs were trained in the use of an economic impact tool so that they could in turn carry out economic impact assessments for their respective MPAs.


In collaboration with the University of Belize’s Environmental Research Institute, and researchers from ECOSUR/ERIS, WWF also hosted a remote sensing training workshop to train partners, including MPA staff, in capturing information using remote sensing imagery, primarily MODIS, to create SST and chlorophyll maps. According to WWF, this information is useful in its efforts to analyze physicochemical indicators (including temperature and nutrients) and the impact they have on reef ecosystems, including within MPAs as a component of this project. WWF also worked with targeted MPA managers (SEA, Hol Chan, TIDE, and SACD), APAMO and CZMAI to organize and execute a total of 5 stakeholder workshops in San Pedro, Placencia, Punta Gorda Town, Dangriga, and Corozal Town, to better understand livelihood threats, risk and vulnerabilities, and level of dependency on MPAs. While the climate and ecosystem risk analyses to inform the resilience assessment are still underway, WWF expects to share draft results with key stakeholders by convening a validation workshop later this year.



WWF hosting Climate Risk Analysis Workshop

Small Grant Awards:


General Objective:
Safeguarding the integrity of the Belize Barrier Reef System and its marine resources from the hazards of offshore oil development, and destructive gear such as gillnets.


Project Progress:

On May 18th, Oceana organized community events across Belize as part of the annual Hands Across the Sands event. Over two hundred individuals came together from across the country to join hands on beaches, across bridges, along seawalls, and other public areas to celebrate and commemorate the people and government of Belize’s bold stand in effecting offshore oil moratorium.

Oceana-2019 Hands Across the Sands event in Belize City.
Photo: Oceana

Additionally, Oceana worked with a number of partners to advance its efforts at addressing the issue of destructive fishing gear, with notable achievements. To strengthen incentives for responsible fishing practices, Oceana has been working with the International Development Bank (IDB) to develop a digital marketplace that would connect licensed fisherfolk with potential buyers via a smart phone app. According to Oceana, this marketplace would include digital advertising opportunities for fishers and buyers who participate in the Fish Right Eat Right (FRER) Program, being lead jointly by Oceana and other partners, and have voluntarily committed to abide by best practices for seafood harvesting and consumption. More broadly, Oceana has also garnered support via an online platform of fishers, tourism allies, restaurateurs, community leaders, and other members of the public for a ban on gillnets and other destructive fishing gear.

General Objective:
Addressing the need for improved management effectiveness, as identified and prioritized through site and systems level management planning for the Southern Belize Reef Complex.


Project Progress: While SEA has experienced some delay in project implementation owing to impediments in the importation of equipment for the installation of demarcation buoys around Laughing Bird Caye National Park (LBCNP), and Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve (GSSCMR), the organization continues to maintain its presence at these sites, having conducted 180 patrols at the above mentioned sites. The organization also continues to engage in educational outreach activities both in schools and within the community.

General Objective:
Using sound science and the integration of stakeholder data collection systems, to recommend and socialize new size limits for key commercial fisheries species in Belize.


Project Progress:

Throughout this reporting period, WCS has continued its work focused on involving members of fishing communities in the management of Belize’s small-scale fishing sector. Through the community landings data collection initiative, WCS continues to work with community members, fishers, and vendors, in conducting a national level analysis of marine product catch and community availability through June 2019. WCS conducted a 3-month pilot study to assist in the identification of a solution that would allow for the tracking of fishing vessels, as well as, the digital recording of fishers’ catch data. According to WCS, while the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) is not a suitable solution for the tracking of vessels given unreliable cellular connectivity across Belize’s fishing areas, it is useful for documenting fishers’ catch data. A total of 30 mobile devices equipped with SMART Connect and the Cyber Tracker software were distributed by WCS to 30 boat captains. A detailed analysis of the data collected will be provided at the end of this project.


Additionally, WCS continues to advance its efforts in the national roll-out of the Fish Right Eat Right (FRER) initiative. So as to sustain and increase buy-in for the FRER initiative among the 21 certified restaurateurs, return visits were conducted in Punta Gorda, Placencia, Hopkins, Dangriga, San Pedro, and Belize City. Introductory visits were made to Cayo, Corozal and Orange Walk. A list of best practices and fisheries regulations has also been presented to new restaurants in Cayo and the Belize district.

Proprietor of El Fogon with FRER Certificate.
Photo: WCS

General Objective:
Building on BAS’ existing environmental education and community outreach program activities specifically the youth focused Reef Protector Program(RPP).


Project Progress: In May 2019 BAS recruited 16 youths from St. Viator High School in the northern village of Chunox to its Reef Protector’s Program. BAS also conducted two meetings with RPP participants. The first meeting hosted on June 22nd was an inaugural meeting with parents and participants of the program hosted to discuss program objectives and calendar of event; while the second meeting the first in a series of eight sessions was one to set building blocks in enhancing knowledge in marine conservation amounts the participants—with meeting topics that included the importance of MPAs, plastic pollution (marine litter), its impacts on marine resources, and the national single-use plastics phase-out. From July 3rd- 5th BAS also conducted its first of three planned field visits for its Reef Protectors. This first trip allowed 15 participants and 3 parents the opportunity to visit Half Moon Caye and Blue Hole Natural Monument. Topics covered during this field trip included introduction to snorkeling, coral and fish identification, turtle nest monitoring and beach morphology, introductory bird identification and observation, and marine protected areas and their social and economic importance.


Reef Protectors Field Trip: Half Moon Caye Marine Reserve
Photo: BAS

In working to create awareness on phasing out of single use plastics and Styrofoam, in August 2019, BAS hosted two meetings targeting teachers from primary schools in Copper Bank and Chunox Villages to sensitize teachers about the project. The meeting saw the participation on 9 teachers who all welcomed the initiative and expressed their interest and commitment to supporting BAS’s the education activities. Finally, on July 28th and August 29th respectively, BAS hosted a Community Share Time and a Food Vender’s Workshop in the villages of Chunox and Copper Bank. The community event hosted under the theme “Phasing-out Single-use Plastics” saw a total of 40 participants. While the Food Vender’s workshop which saw a total of 18 participants, covered topics on plastic pollution, and its impacts on health and the environment, where workshop attendees participated in an engaging activity called “discovering garbage in your community”, and explored solutions and alternatives to single-use plastics for small business, individuals and communities.


Food Vendor’s Workshop attendees participating in “Discovering Garbage in Your Community” activity.
Photo: BAS



General Objective:
Inspiring and motivating the next generation of conservation leaders in Belize through youth engagement.


Project Progress: To date, EPI has successfully delivered three four-day field based learning courses to two high schools in southern Belize. In collaboration with the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE), EPI has engaged the Toledo Community College in Punta Gorda Town, and Agriculture and Natural Resources Institute (ANRI) in the Stann Creek District. The total number of participants on these courses was as follows: 33 from Toledo Community College including 29 students and 4 teachers; and 12 from ANRI, including 10 students and 2 teachers. Plans are also currently being drafted by EPI for the Youth Conservation Leadership Symposium to be held in November 2019.


EPI’s Field Course with ANRI at Payne’s Creek National Park


General Objective:
Detecting the recovery of depleted populations of marine megafauna at the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve, using long-term standardized monitoring methods.


Project Progress: MarAlliance is in the inception phase of this grant and has purchased some of the equipment (radios, supplies, fishing gears) needed to conduct its field work in the first quarter of 2020. The organization has also secured the services of several fishers/boats and has started to arrange for the accommodations on the atoll for its field expedition—this is in line with previous establish timelines for collection of data.


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


Project Progress: Sea to Shore Alliance has conducted its manatee captures and health assessment throughout in the Placencia Lagoon. During this activity, three captured individuals was equipped with satellite transmitters to gather further information and data on manatee travel corridors, feeding areas, habitat use and response to human disturbance.


Manatee Health Assessment in Placencia
Photo: Sea to Shore Alliance


The organization also conducted a tour guide workshop engaging 35 guides from Seine Bight were trained in manatee conservation, appropriate manatee-viewing procedures, and safety on the water in order to reduce negative impact to manatees through watercraft collisions. This training was hosted in collaboration with key partners including the Forest Department, and the Belize Tourism Board. Additionally, Sea to Shore Alliance continues in its efforts at conducting weekly patrols with the Belize Port Authority in Belize City to ensure boaters compliance with manatee safety rules and its monthly joint patrols with the Southern Environmental Association.


Manatee Tour Guide Training Seine Bight .
Photo: Sea to Shore Alliance



Belize Marine Fund 3rd Small Grants Request for Proposals (2018)

In August 2018, the Belize Marine Fund launched its 3rd Small Grants RfP as a box within MAR Fund’s 11th Joint Request for Proposals.


The general objective of the BMF Small Grant’s RfP was to support traditional marine conservation and civil society organizations in developing and implementing initiatives that address and provides solutions to sustainable resources use and management issues; while working to achieve “market readiness” for the capitalization of market-based investments.


Specific Objectives:


  1. To support the identification and development of a portfolio/pipeline of potentially “marketable” initiatives and support the evolution of these projects to investable opportunities.
  2. To address the need for sustainable financing in marine resources management by working with key stakeholders to integrate financial planning into areas of conservation planning.


The deadline for submission of proposals was October 15th, 2018. In March 2019, the BMF Steering Committee met to review viable submissions. Four project proposals were approved for support. They are as follows:

Building capacity of fishing stakeholders for participation in marine conservation, through education, public awareness and collaboration.


Using a combination of conservation awareness and skills training in biodiversity research and monitoring; BAS will engage a core group of (15) youths from the fishing communities of Chunox and Copper Bank in its Reef Protector’s Program. The organization will also work broadly within these communities to provide education and awareness around the topic of marine environmental protection and plastics pollution.

Engaging Belizean youths as the next generation of conservation leaders.


In its effort to create a cadre of Belizean youths who will become the next generation of conservation leaders, EPI engages secondary level students and their teachers in hands-on conservation and experiential educational activities. More specifically, through this initiative, EPI will inspire local youth—primarily from Belize City and the Toledo District—to become stewards of their environment, providing them with the skills, knowledge, and motivation to take an active, lifelong role in conservation.

Monitoring effectiveness of the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve through long-term monitoring of marine megafauna.


By conducting standardized monitoring of marine megafauna at Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve (TAMR), through this project MarAlliance will gather the necessary data to assess whether populations of sharks and rays are rebuilding in comparison to baselines from 2014 – 2016; and the adequacy of current regulations for their protection and recovery in the TAMR.

Safeguarding manatees and community livelihoods in Placencia and Belize City through research and education.


Through this initiative Sea to Shore Alliance will gather scientific data that inform management strategies towards safeguarding Belize’s Antillean manatee population. More specifically, the organization will execute country-wide manatee aerial surveys, conduct manatee tracking and health assessments, and analyze past stranding data (2014 – 2018); to inform the completion of a comprehensive report, that provides technical and policy recommendations for enhanced protection of Belize’s manatee population.

MAR Fund Small Grants Program Request For Proposals

Joint Request for Proposals (10th) 2017

Supporting and Strengthening the Management of Coastal and Marine Protected Areas in the Mesoamerican Reef

The tenth request for proposals is currently under development. Two projects have ended and present interesting results while all the other projects have had good progress so far, as indicated below:

Grantee: Asociación Maya Pro Bienestar Rural del Área Sarstún (APROSARSTUN). Guatemala.


Final result:

  • Two studies: “Socioeconomic analysis of the manjua fishery” and the “Economic Alternatives Plan for the shrimp and manjua fishing communities”, were completed.
  • Workshops were organized in each of the communities (Santa María del Mar, Baltimore and Río Salado Playa) to socialize the final report of the socioeconomic analysis and deliver the document produced as well as to socialize and validate results with community representatives and institutions (Municipality of Livingston, Asociación Multicultural de Mujeres para el Desarrollo Integral y Sostenible(AMMUDIS), Centro de Atención Materno Infantil (CAIMI) and Fundación para el Eco-Desarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO-AAT Consortium)) present in the area. The document demonstrates that the manjua fishery is not viable to sustain the livelihood of local fishers and that they need to find economic alternatives for their income.
  • Results of the Economic Alternatives Plan were also shared through workshops with the following communities: Buena Vista La Esperanza, Nuevo Creek Chino (COPASLI), Vista Hermosa, Julha and La Ceiba. The document includes a list of potential economic alternatives such as: shrimp or tilapia aquaculture, chicken breeding, flour and bread production, cultivation of vegetables and fruits, among others.
  • APROSARSTUN is seeking funds to be able to conduct a feasibility study for these economic alternatives. Through this study, the organisation will select at least one economic activity and implement it at least one of the communities considered.



Illustration of the practice of the manjua fishery

Grantee: Fundación Mundo Azul. Guatemala


Final result:

  • Workshops were organized to generate awareness on climate change, greenhouse gases, adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change, focusing on strengthening the response capacity of four communities (Quineles, Cabo Tres Puntas, La Graciosa and El Quetzalito).
  • An adaptation strategy matrix was created in collaboration with participants from each community, showing: a) the measures taken to face climate threats; b) adaptation in past years to those phenomena and c) strategies to avoid/reduce the impacts of floods/droughts.
  • The implemented activities are related to the strategies to reduce one or more impacts of climate change.
    • Quineles: to promote food security for the community, they implemented family gardens to produce vegetables such as tomato, cucumber, blackberry, sweet pepper and fruit trees such as avocado and rambutan.
    • Quetzalito: to promote sustainable agriculture practices, they focused on the cultivation of three different varieties of corn, of which at least one showed resistance to drought and plagues.
    • La Graciosa: to promote the diversification of food through livestock components, they started the production of backyard chickens.
  • Education material on climate change was produced and shared with the participants of the project and key actors of the communities involved. The material will be also distributed to other communities, educational centers and other organizations.



Harvest of cucumbers in Quineles.
Photo: Fundación Mundo Azul

Grantee: Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza. Guatemala.


Final results:

  • Through this financing, the RAMSAR File and the Management Plan were updated for the management of Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge (RVSBP).
  • Moreover, an updated version of the Financial Plan for the area was made with the use of the Marfin Software, obtaining short, medium and long-term financing strategies that will allow financial stability for the administration of the area.
  • Final results of the project were socialized to key local actors (civil organizations, authorities and local communities) through a closing workshop where 62 people participated. The event was shared by local radio and the final results were also disseminated through social networks.
  • The project raised awareness and promoted the co-responsibility of the area’s management, to maintain and conserve natural resources. Links were made with the Municipality of El Estor, the industrial sector, tourism and communities’ representatives, the Municipal Development Council (COMUDE, by its Spanish acronym), the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAGA, by its Spanish acronym), the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP, by its Spanish acronym), the Authority for Sustainable management of the Izabal lake and the Dulce river (AMASURLI, by its Spanish acronym) and Defensores de la Naturaleza.



Management Plan Working Group.
Photo: Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza

Grantee: :  POLO’s Water Association, Honduras.


Final Results:

  • A diagnostic of the current state of the treatment plant and pumping stations was completed. As a result, a one-year work plan was prepared.
  • A new fee for the water service was established and approved. This will generate an increase in income that will be used to cover part of the operating costs of the water treatment system. For example, from June to December 2018, the income increased by US$ 5,000.
  • Within the sewage system managed by POLO’s Association, 82 septic tanks were checked to determine which needed cleaning. As a result, only 16 required maintenance. They were cleaned and sealed.



Water manual cover.
Photo: Polo

Grantee: Bay Islands Conservation Association (BICA), Roatán. Honduras.


Final Results:

  • BICA and ELAW have been advocating to include the “pepenadores” (people who collect solid waste) in the Roatán municipality plan for waste management. Their inclusion is still pending. Nonetheless, protective gear was purchased for their safety and basic services such as vaccination were provided. Lastly, regulations for the use and management of the landfill were developed.
  • The reduction in the use of single-use plastics (plastic bags, plastic straws and foam) was encouraged through the promotion of municipal ordinances, raising awareness among the general public through the “ACROPORA Race”, social media, television and radio channels and the Jane Goodall Roots & Shoots campaign. They gathered 24,941 signatures in favor.
  • The Municipality purchased an 8 hectares plot of land for the construction of a new sanitary landfill that meets the needs of the community.
  • Two solid waste management plans were designed for two hotels in Roatan (Mayan Princess and Paradise Beach).
  • A certificate of commitment was signed by teachers to participate in the environmental education campaign and 6,310 students were sensitized on adequate management of solid and liquid waste.



Implementation of solid waste management plans
Photo: BICA

Grantee: Asociación de Apicultores de Corozal (APICOR) through Roatán Marine Park (RMP). Honduras.


Final Results:

  • Currently APICOR is producing natural and balsamic honey, honey moisturizing lotion, honey soap and shampoo. The shampoo formula was improved, refining the aroma and reducing the amount of preservatives and chemicals used.
  • Purchase of supplies for producing 210 bottles of shampoo for ORIN-CAESAREA, an organization from Israel. The product received a positive feedback from ORIN-CAESAREA.
  • A new savings account in Banco Atlántida as a seed fund for the organization was opened.
  • The sanitary licence was obtained on November 15, 2018.
  • The organization participated in the workshop “Production cost calculation” to help them calculate the real cost of each product. As a result, APICOR learned that it is necessary to increase the price of their products to have earnings.
  • Two videos were made to promote the organization and the products they sell (click here to see the videos).



Products ready to be sold at the local market.


Grantee: Casa Wayu’. Mexico.


Final Results:

  • The final evaluation showed that 12 hotels (out of 17) and the two restaurants involved finalized the project implementation with success and were acknowledged for their respectable work. The other five hotels did not reach the minimum score or withdraw from the program. However, two more hotels decided to participate long after the project started and will complete their evaluation by the end of this year (results are not showed).
  • With the analyses of the performance report checklist, important changes in the hotels and restaurants’ environmental practices were found after the implementation of good practices. Results shows:
  • A total of 34% of energy was saved in one year (saving 1,098,438 KwH), that translate into 639.29 Tons of CO2 equivalent.
  • A total of 26% of Gas LP was saved in one year (saving 92,416 liters of gas LP); that translate into 147.86 Tons of CO2 equivalent.
  • A total of 37% of water was saved in one year (saving 55,650 m3 of water);
  • A total of 8,973 Kg of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) was reduced using filters and water jars in common areas and hotel rooms instead of 500ml water bottles and a total of 4,748 Kg of HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) plastic was reduced using the politic of “return and refill” for cleaning products.
  • This all translated into an economical saving of 7,533,093 Mexican Pesos in one year (equal to 376,658 USD).
  • As a whole, the project prevented 787.16 Tons of Greenhouse Gas from being emitted to the atmosphere and if we consider that 1Ton is equal to 13 USD this is converted in an extra saving of 195,963 Mexican Pesos (equal to 10,233 USD).



Acknowledgment of the hotels and restaurants that successfully ended the program
Photo: CASA WAYU´.

Grantee: El Colegio de Frontera Sur (ECOSUR). Mexico.


Progress to date:

ECOME 7 developed from October 6 – 16, 2018 (new moon).

8 MPAs participated in the exercise: 1) Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Protected Area and 2) Arrecifes de Xcalak National Park, in México; 3) Hol Chan Marine Reserve and 4) Port Honduras Marine Reserve, in Belize; 5) Río Sarstún Multiple Use Area and 6) Punta Manabique Wildlife Refuge in Guatemala; 7) Turtle Harbor-Rock Harbour Special Marine Protection Zone and 8) Sandy Bay West End Special Marine Protection Zone in Honduras.

Three protected areas joined the exercise without funding from the small grant: a) Santuario del Manati State Reserve, b) Isla Contoy National Park and c) Arrecifes de Puerto Morelos National Park, Quintana Roo.

For ECOME 7, 359 fish post larvae were captured and the identification resulted in 22 different families of fish and 35 genera. Some data are still under revision, however on average, 35.9 ± 29.51 organisms per MPA were collected.


ECOME 8 developed from March 2 – 10,2019 (new moon).

For this exercise only 7 MPAs joined, since Port Honduras Marine Reserve, in Belize, could not participate. Moreover, two protected areas joined the exercise without funding from the small grant: a) Santuario del Manatí State Reserve and, b) Isla Contoy National Park.



Sampling operations during ECOME 7.
Photo: Ecosur

Grantee: Fundación Comunitaria Cozumel. Mexico.


Final Results:

  • The Control and Surveillance Community Committee was established and trained on environmental legislation; however, it did not carry out any official supervision tour, since they are still in the conformation stage.
  • The legal advisor hired for this project developed a manual and multimedia material (videos) for training, in legal matters and environmental law, personnel who are being integrated both to the NPA management and to the Control and Surveillance Community Committee.
  • The Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park (PNAC) Staff completed a total of 66 marine patrols (three of those, in collaboration with providers of tourism services) to detect illegal fishing. Probable illegal activity was observed; however, it was impossible to act in legal terms since the detected vessel fled the area when noticing the PNAC personnel.
  • Moreover, the PNAC staff completed a total of 114 marine patrols to oversee NPA rules and good tourism practices, this led to:
    • The assessment of 1,038 vessels that were conducting tourism activities within the protected area without authorization. Of those, 250 entered the area without authorization during the project implementation.



Marine patrols and vessel assessment

Grantee: Grupo de Ecología para la Conservación de Islas (GECI) and Cozumel Municipality. Mexico.


Final Results:

  • 11 key sectors worked on the development of the biosecurity protocol, including: authorities, fishermen, researchers, civil associations, providers of tourism services, cruises, ferries and hotels, among others.
  • Preventive measures in each entry to Isla Cozumel to avoid intentional and accidental introductions of species were established.
  • A meeting for the validation of the “Biosecurity Protocol” was held by the people involved in the formulation process, and presented to the authorities (Integral Port Administration of Quintana Roo, Cozumel offices – APIQRoo
  • The final version of the Biosecurity Protocol for Cozumel Island (PBI) was shared by email with 76 people, all involved in its development. In addition, the PBI was handed over to the environment subcommittee of the Municipal Development Planning Committee of Cozumel (COPLADEMUN).
  • During the project, important alliances were established with different actors, such as: ULTRAMAR (the ferry agency), APIQROO (Administración Portuaria Integral de Quintana Roo), ASUR (Aeropuerto del Sureste), AVIOMAR ADVENTOURS (the cruise agency) and the No-Governmental Organization SACBÉ. To promote the appropriation of the Biosecurity Protocol for Cozumel Island among the key stakeholders and the community of the island, a variety of communication materials were designed, including: t-shirts, caps and prints of endemic and native species representative of Cozumel Island. Four sets of the materials were shared with the MAR Fund/FMCN and the rest was handed over to CONANP.



Group photo of the participants during the final presentation of the project.
Photo: GECI

Grantee: Moxviquil. Mexico.


Final Results:

  • The final teams and the conservation projects they implemented in the community are presented:
  • “Jovenes Eco-Pro” in Chetumal, implemented a rally-type contest (Rally x mi Bahía) and a photographic exhibit with the 40 best photographs taken by the team members during their field visits to the marine protected area. The rally had an attendance of 133 people in total (of those, 96 actively participated and 37 volunteered for the rally). Moreover, six people were facilitators of the activity and 40 were spectators of the event.
  • “Protectores de Xcalak”, they carried out a community mobilization event (called #BasuraChallenge por los Arrecifes de Xcalak) with the participation of 45 people. A beach clean-up and a mural painting were organized. Moreover, a paddle board exhibit was prepared for the community as a green tourism activity.
  • “Protectores de la Bahia”, from the Colegio de Bachilleres of Laguna Guerrero, organized a clean-up along the road close to the coast from Laguna Guerrero to Raudales. The program also included the placement of signs with conservation messages along the road. Moreover, a paddle board exhibit was also prepared and a mural painting organized. 60 people participated.
  • “Sirenas de Chiquilá”, a group of 8 young women, organized a three-day art event called “El Arte de la Conservación” (the art of conservation). During the event they made, with the help of plastic artist Filiberto Ayala, a mural in the main plaza of their school that was inaugurated by local authorities once completed. The making of the mural was possible with the participation of other students and teachers from the school (approximately 45 people in total). The artist gave a talk to the entire school on painting and curing walls to protect them from the effect of salt residue from seawater and wind.



One of the Juvenile Leader Group “Sirenas de Chiquilá” with their mural

MAR Fund Small Grants Program Request For Proposals

11th REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS – August 2018

Supporting and Strengthening the Management of Coastal and Marine Protected Areas in the Mesoamerican Reef

On August 22, 2018, the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM), the Government of Germany through KfW, the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, and the Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund) were pleased to announce the 11th joint request for proposals.


With the overall objective to contribute to the conservation of the ecological functions of the Mesoamerican Reef System, the three specific objectives of the call were:

  1. To support the protection and conservation of coastal and marine ecosystems in prioritized 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 to submit proposal was October 15, 2018. We received 27 proposals distributed as follows: six from Guatemala, eight from Honduras and 13 from Mexico.


The Grants and Evaluation Committee meeting was held in Guatemala City on January 10, 2019. As a result of the evaluation process, nine proposals were approved. The total amount for project in this RfP was US$ 260,260.50.


The approved projects are:

  1. Conservation of the MAR through best sustainable tourism practices in Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve (RBBCH) and Arrecifes de Xcalak Natural Park (PNAX)-Phase II. To be developed by Amigos de Sian Ka’an A.C. (ASK, by its acronym in Spanish).
  1. Mitigation of climate change and protection of Blue Carbon sinks: Valuation Phase.To be developed by Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental A.C. (CEMDA, by its acronym in Spanish).
  1. Analysis of Water Quality of Yalahau Lagoon in the Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Protected Area (FFPA). To be developed by Centinelas del Agua A.C. (CDA, by its acronym in Spanish.
  1. Mitigation of climate change and protection of Blue Carbon sinks: Certification Phase. To be developed by Programa Mexicano del Carbono, A.C. (PMC, by its acronym in Spanish).
  1. Leadership Program in the Mesoamerican Reef System: building a new generation of leaders for conservation. To be developed by Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, A.C. (FMCN, by its acronym in Spanish).
  1. Promotion of new productive activities and environmental education related to recycling of discarded materials for the proper management of solid waste. Phase II.To be developed by Bay Island Conservation Association (BICA, by its acronym in Spanish).
  1. Strengthening conservation leadership and community empowerment in the island of Utila, Honduras. To be developed by Fundación Islas de la Bahía (FIB, by its acronym in Spanish).


We will keep you updated on the progress and results achieved by these projects.

The Mesoamerican Reef Rescue Initiative

Innovative financial mechanisms, such as parametric insurance for reefs, can contribute to rapid post-event reef restoration and recovery. As an integral part of the RRI program, MAR Fund is working in collaboration with Willis Tower Watson (WTW), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the International Coral Reef Initiative/UN Small Grant Programme and other partners in the region, to design and implement a parametric insurance model for reefs in at least 7 sites of the MAR Region. This innovative financial mechanism will provide a post-event response framework for: i) the coastal communities dependent on the MAR, and ii) the MAR itself.


As part of the parametric insurance model for reef in the MAR, the following activities have been completed.

  • Identification of key reef sites across the four countries of the MAR. Preliminary identification of 7 sites has been completed, via a participatory process in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. Between April and May, meetings with stakeholders, scientists, and local and regional authorities where conducted in the three countries in order to finalize revising and concluding the reef sites selected.


  • Risk and vulnerability assessment. This was developed in March and it concluded the study: “Correlation between damage to reefs caused by hurricanes and the characteristics of hurricanes that cause damages”. The results of the study include a meta-analysis for the Caribbean basin, which correlates hurricane characteristics with damages to coral reefs and that will identify post-event response requirements. The study indicates that the features that significantly correlated with coral cover loss at hurricane impact are intensity at impact, original coral cover density and reef exposure. As a result of the study, significant work has been done to understand and model reef vulnerability to hurricanes.


  • Pay out and cost analysis. In July, a tool to estimate reef-damage and the costs to repair the damages, and for restoration actions was developed at eight key sites in the region. The study: “Determine the required actions, and their cost, for reef restoration and emergency response, after damages caused by hurricanes in selected reef sites of the MAR region” was also completed. The analysis conducted will be the basis for estimation of insurance coverage requirements, based on specific sites and polygons, as well as the cost for emergency response and short and long-term restoration.

MAR Fund is coordinating with TNC to develop and implement Emergency Response actions in the four countries of the Region. The base for this activity is the Emergency Response Protocol that was developed by TNC for Quintana Roo, Mexico, and adopted by MAR Fund to be replicated in the other MAR countries. This instrument includes the profile of the response brigades and the actions required to secure rapid reef recovery at each of the sites of the insurance model.

Accordingly, in April and May, in Guatemala, Honduras and Belize, technical meetings were held to socialize the document: Post-Storm Immediate Response Protocol in case of damages to reefs caused by hurricanes.

In Guatemala, the result of the meeting was that MAR Fund and CONAP will sign a collaboration agreement (MoU) to strengthen capacities in reef restoration and emergency response actions in the Caribbean of Guatemala. In addition, it was agreed that once the Agreement is signed, a follow up meeting would be held in Izabal to build the Emergency Response Coordinating Committee.

In Honduras, two meetings were held: one in Roatan and the other in Tegucigalpa. The second one, called “Innovative solutions for the coastal marine resources resilience in the MAR region” aimed to present to the national authorities of Honduras the following topics:

  • Mesoamerican Reef Rescue Initiative: strategies, objectives and advances;
  • Post-Storm Emergency Response Protocol;
  • Criteria and profile needed to build and train Emergency Response Brigades to address hurricane damage to reefs;
  • Parametric insurance for reefs for the MAR region.


Then, in April in Tegucigalpa it carried out the meeting.


In May, in Belize city, it was conducted the meeting, Building Emergency Response Capacities Post-hurricane in Belize. During the meeting it was possible to:

  • Identify capacities and needs of the country to implement an emergency response protocol in case of damages to the reefs, caused by hurricanes.
  • Identify the processes to form and train Rapid Response Brigades in Belize, in attention to the damages to the reefs, post-hurricane.

Socialize the parametric insurance project in the MAR, as innovative financial mechanisms for emergency response and reef restoration.

MAR Fund has prepared a regional and by-country analysis of the existing regulatory framework and public policy, and existence (or lack) of financing mechanisms for reef restoration.


The legal and policy analysis include:


  1. A legal analysis conducted to identify the current legislation and regulations related to reef restoration in the MAR Region, and make the appropriate recommendations for the implementation of a viable and solid legislation that facilitates reef restoration, emergency response, and innovative financial mechanisms.
  2. The main actors involved in the implementation of legislation at the country level and at the regional level, as well as the actions required in each country for building and carrying out regional protocols, have been identified.
  3. A policy analysis was conducted to explore the economic rationale and policy considerations for including coral reefs into asset valuation and climate change-related risk assessments, and investing in innovative financial instruments to support coral reef conservation and restoration following damage from hurricanes and ship groundings, such as, an insurance model for reefs.

Among the lessons learned from the legal and policy analysis it is included, that it is essential to strengthen the continuous communication between and among key actors in the MAR region. Reef conservation efforts can have greater impacts when there are platforms that enhances communication and collaboration at the local regional level.

In 2019, two Small Grants have been formalized for the following projects:

  • Roatan Marine Park (RMP) Coral Restoration Project. Granted to Roatan Marine Park in alliance with Healthy Reef Initiative. The project aims to preserve, propagate and outplant Elkhorn and Staghorn corals, to repopulate Roatan’s reefs, with spawning colonies of these keystone, threatened species. The project also seeks to engage and educate local and tourist scuba divers and the Roatan community through participation in active coral restoration and related educational activities.


  • Support and Strengthening of the Management of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas in the Mesoamerican Reef. Approved to the Ecologic Center Akumal (CEA) to be implemented in Akumal Aquatic Species Refuge Area and surrounding areas, within the Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve, Quintana Roo, Mexico. The project aims to restore the reef ecosystem and the environmental services it provides, through the rehabilitation of reef crest habitat and frontal reef, by using clonal-type mass repopulation techniques and recruits from assisted fertilization, mainly with Acropora palmata and Acropora cervicornis; through community integration to ensure the sustainability of the project.

Furthermore, advances of the Small Grants approved in 2018 include:

  • Fragments of Hope: “Strengthening science-based reef restoration efforts in Belize and Mexico with exchange site visits including experts”.

In June, 2019, a second part of the exchange was conducted among practitioners of Mexico and Belize. The group visited various reef sites and nurseries including the largest, densest Acropora palmata thicket in the region, called “Limones” and replenished sites near Isla Mujeres. Reef sites visited, included: Puerto Morelos National Park, Cozumel National Park, Akumal, and Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve. Special experts in the visit included Dra. Iliana Baums from Pennsylvania State University and Dr. Art Gleason from the University of Miami.

As a result of the exchange visits, a collaboration between Dr. Baums, Dr. Gleason and Fragments of Hope will be possible in light of an application for a grant to examine phenotypic (morphological and ecological characteristics) correlations with genetics using high -resolution photo-mosaics. Also, a free webinar on photo-mosaics techniques took place on 25 July 2019 hosted by the Coral Restoration Coalition (CRC) and Reef Resilience Network (TNC) with over 130 participants. Dr. Gleason was one of the expert panelists, and Lisa Carne (Fragments of Hope) was one of the panelists presenting results from Belize as a case study. Furthermore, new collaborations were made with Claudia Padilla from INAPESCA, and relations were strengthened with Dr. Gleason, Dr. Baums and UNAM.

  • Oceanus: “Colony transplant and implementation of new techniques for reef rehabilitation in Xcalak-Mahahual”:

In March 2019, a dissemination talk about the project was held during the conference “Towards a Sustainable Use of the Oceans and its Forms of Life” The conference was organized by the Ministry of Environment of Quintana Roo. Oceanus also participated in the National Reef Congress in Manzanillo, Colima, to share experiences and learn about current research in coral reefs and restoration in Mexico. As a result, Oceanus was invited to give a talk about the project and share experiences and techniques of restoration to a group of service providers, divers and academics from Manzanillo.

MAR Fund has an alliance with Willis Towers Watson (WTW), through their Global Ecosystem Resilience Facility, to collaborate on the design of the parametric insurance. Furthermore, MAR Fund has also initiated conversations with Coordination Center for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America (CEPREDENAC) in order to exchange GIS information and to collaborate formally in the implementation of emergency response capacities in three of the four countries of the MAR (Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras).

On May 27 and 28, the Technical Supervisory Committee conducted its Sixth ordinary meeting. The participants to the meeting included:

  1. Mexico: María del Carmen García Rivas from the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP)
  2. Guatemala: Luisa Fernández and Oscar Zaparolli from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN)
  3. Honduras: Skarleth Pineda Lim from the Biodiversity Direction (DiBio)
  4. María José González Executive Director of MAR Fund
  5. Claudia Ruiz, Coordinator of the The Mesoamerican Reef Rescue Initiative.
  6. Gabriela Lainfiesta from MAR Fund

The main topics discussed included:

  1. Main results and conclusions of the analysis and enabling policy framework by country and at regional level to implement RRI strategies;
  2. Main results and advances of the Post-storm Response Protocol prepared by TNC;
  3. Main results of the of the Post Storm Protocol the socialization process and governance mechanisms to create and strengthen response capacities in Belize, Guatemala and Honduras;
  4. Progress in the design and development of the parametric pilot insurance,
  5. Draft RRI Communication Strategy;
  6. Presentation of the reef restoration project in the Bay Islands, supported by RRI through its Small Grant program.

The Committee will reconvene again in November, 2019 in Guatemala, city.


  1. The action plan was revised by all project partners, whom agreed on the final version. The final document was also translated into Spanish.
  2. An on-line interactive group to implement communication within partners was created. The Slack group “Team MAR Fish” is active and partners are sharing relevant documents, events and activities to each other’s.
  3. One of the activity of the action plan is under development: The diagnostic on the current use of the newly discovered Cayman Crown reef, located between Belize and Guatemala. This field work is being carried out by a volunteer and the activity will be completed by the end of 2019.
  4. The save the date for the first regional workshop of the FSAs network was set for November 21-22, 2019 in Cancun, Mexico and invitations to all participants will be sent shortly.
  5. No-objection of FFEM on the Terms of Reference for the Project Coordinator were received and subsequently widely published through the MAR Fund website and social media. Evaluation of applicants is currently taking place.
  6. Project partners were invited to submit proposals to MAR Fund for the specific activities of the action plan that consist of FFEM and the Summit Foundation funds. Most proposals are under revision and one is under revision from FFEM. After no-objection from FFEM, grants agreements will be signed and funds will be disbursed.

Effective communications

Click the link to the article of magazine
Revista D, Prensa Libre, Guatemala:
Revista D No. 765 – Abril 2019

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Desarrollarán estrategia para la conservación y restauración del mangle en el arrecife mesoamericano



Únete a la Red Mesoamericana de Manglares y Pastos Marinos



La Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Rescate de Arrecifes continúa avanzando



Honduras será sede de tres importantes eventos en favor de la naturaleza



You can check the latest Mar News in the carrousel that is on the main page of our website:   https://marfund.org/en/


Every Wednesday, since July 2018, it is published on our social media networks, a snapshot of the main impacts of the Conservation of Marine Resources in Central America Project empowered by MAR Fund. Look at the example below:


Contact us if you need additional information