Conservation of Marine Resources in Central America Project

Project Phase II

Progress in each protected area.

The Calderas de Barlovento community signed a contract for the right of usufruct for 3,271 m2 of land for a period of 30 years. The second access guard control house in the protected area is being built. This infrastructure will also function as a small field station at the Reserve, since there is no infrastructure on the east coast of the Chetumal Bay.


 Photo: MAR Fund


A meeting of the shareholders of the land in the Manatee Sanctuary State Reserve was held in the Biodiversity and Natural Protected Areas Institute of Quintana Roo State (IBANQROO, by its acronym in Spanish) offices.


The roof of the Mammal Rehabilitation Center (CARMA for its acronym in Spanish) was replaced and the pier was improved.


Photo: MAR Fund



 Photo: MAR Fund


A second set of cameras, radios and uniforms was purchased to strengthen the control and surveillance work of the staff of the IBANQROO and the community brigades. This equipment was delivered to the community brigades of La Peninsula, Calderas de Barlovento and Xcalak. At the same time, the Attorney General’s Office for Environmental Protection (PPA, by its acronym in Spanish), delivered a kit of complementary tools for each member of the brigades (bicycle, backpack, machete, multi-purpose tool and long-sleeve t-shirt) of Ursulo Galván and Calderas de Barlovento.


 Photo: MAR Fund



 Photo: MAR Fund


The IBANQROO has been strengthened with the purchase of computers and office equipment.


 Photo: MAR Fund



 Photo: MAR Fund


An 18-foot boat “Guardaparque”, with its respective trailer, was acquired. This new boat will facilitate and strengthen the coordination and development of control and surveillance activities in the lagoon, inland waters and estuaries of the protected area.


 Photo: MAR Fund


With matching funds, during 2018, 25 land patrols were implemented and no environmental illicit activities were detected. Twenty-seven aquatic patrols were implemented in coordination with the PPA, the Public Security Secretariat and the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (SSP and CONAPESCA, by its acronym in Spanish, respectively). Two fishing nets and four crab traps were confiscated and one mangrove deforestation area was reported. Control and surveillance is ongoing with matching funds, establishing links with governmental institutions to strengthen their presence in the protected area.


 Photo: MAR Fund



 Photo: MAR Fund


Two staff members of the Biodiversity and Natural Areas Department took the fourth and last module within the Diploma in Participatory Management in Marine Protected Areas of the Mexican Caribbean imparted by the Mexican NGO Moxviquil. A staff member of the Reserve took the “Aquatic Megafauna Monitoring Methods” course held at the University of Quintana Roo.


 Photo: MAR Fund


Water quality, life quality
The water quality monitoring program continues to be implemented with El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR, by its acronym in Spanish) and the IBANQROO´s staff. Three monitoring field visits were done during the three different seasons (dry, rainy and north season) present in the area over one year. The visits were done in 30 sites of the protected area distributed in the following locations: Chetumal Bay, Guerrero, Chile Verde and Salada Lagoons. Twelve physicochemical parameters were analyzed and the final report is under elaboration.

 Photo: MAR Fund



 Photo: MAR Fund


Manatees in sight
The monitoring of “Daniel”, the emblematic manatee of the area, was strengthened this year with the purchase of a drone with the support of the project. This equipment will allow the protected area to improve the study of the manatees´ social behavior.


 Photo: MAR Fund


Cross-border Alliance

The final version of the cross-border collaboration agreement between IBANQROO and ECOSUR in Mexico and the Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD) in Belize, is completed. The organizations of both countries are in the final stage of the document review. In the meantime, joint activities such as water quality monitoring, control and surveillance patrols and coordination meetings continue.


 Photo: MAR Fund



 Photo: MAR Fund


Community strengthening

The approved project “Wildlife monitoring with community participation in the Santuario del Manatí – Arrecifes de Xcalak biological corridor”, submitted to the Conservation Program for Sustainable Development (PROCODES, by its acronym in Spanish) of CONANP in collaboration with IBANQROO, was implemented during 2018. Ten trap cameras were installed and four monthly monitorings were carried out. In addition, 23 people attended the training workshop to learn about wildlife monitoring. To date, ten trap cameras have been installed in Ursulo Galván, Calderas de Barlovento, Tollocan and Xcalak sites.


 Photo: MAR Fund



 Photo: MAR Fund



 Photo: MAR Fund


Environmental education
With the support of a graphic design student, five recreational games were designed: lottery, environmental memory game, snakes and ladders, stop of the Reserve and the traveling manatee. These games were used with school children of the communities within the protected area, as part of the environmental education program.


 Photo: MAR Fund

The headquarters, for the Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD), was completed and is now fully functional. Through a collaboration agreement, the compound includes a space for the Forestry Department, as overall authority of the protected area.


Photo: SACD


As part of the control and surveillance program, SACD has been working joint patrols with el Instituto de Biodiversidad y Áreas Naturales Protegidas del Estado de Quintana Roo (IBANQROO), the Mexican partners, so as to strengthen the transboundary collaboration in the Chetumal-Corozal Bay.


Photo: SACD


The second contract with ECOSUR for water quality analysis was signed and the rainy, dry and northern season monitoring, for both physical parameters and contamination, were developed.

To be able to reach and share results with communities and partner organizations, SACD finalized and printed a series of communication material.


Photo: MAR Fund


The Tour Guide Training has been completed and 23 community members successfully finished the course and officially graduated.


Photo: SACD


To involve the Sarteneja youth in the care of the area and as part of its Volunteer 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.


Photo: SACD

The management plan update was finalized and approved by the Belize Fisheries Department (BFD).


Photo: Management Plan


Surveillance and enforcement activities continue to be carried out effectively with support from the Belize Coast Guard and the Conservation and Compliance Unit (CCU) of the Fisheries Department.


Photo: Belize Fishery Department (BFD)


The education and outreach officer together with the Department Communication officer, conducted sensitization sessions with stakeholder communities and users of the reserve, raising awareness on the upcoming construction of the ranger station, pier, and sea wall.


Photo: Belize Fishery Department (BFD)


As part of their monitoring and evaluation systems, from September 20 to 23, the SWCMR staff carried out their conch and sea cucumber survey. A total of 45 sites were completed for conch and 26 sites for sea cucumber.


Photo: Belize Fishery Department (BFD)


To strengthen the community/associations, the Advisory Committee held a meeting during which they discussed: project implementation, enforcement activities and works to be carried out at Twin Caye, among others.


Photo: Belize Fishery Department (BFD)

As part of the investment in infrastructure, the works at Laguna Grande (one pier) and Lagunita Creek (two piers, signage, biological station, field station and pathway) have been finished.


Photo: MAR Fund


The Management Plan consultancy has begun and the consultancy team has carried out a series of meetings and workshops for the creation of the plan.


Photo: MAR Fund


The consortium Fundación para el Eco Desarrollo y la Conservación – Asosicación 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)).


Photo: Fundaeco


The agroforestry systems implemented in Siete Altares, Barra Tatín, Sarstún Creek and Nuevo Nacimiento Cáliz have been completed. Technical assistance is still being provided by the Consortium forestry technician.



Photo: MAR Fund


As follow up to the productive activities supported, The Fishermen’s Committee of Barra Sarstun spent the funds provided to finish the cafeteria and the fish collection and sales center, both are up a running.


Photo: MAR Fund


The fish collection and sales center for the Fishermen’s Committee of San Juan has been complete, FUNDAECO continues providing support for the legalization of the committee.


Photo: MAR Fund


As part of the involvement of organized community groups, FUNDAECO developed an exchange with the participation of 20 community members and seven technical staff. They visited and held meetings with the authorities of the organization 48 Cantones from Totonicapán, to learn about their work, organization, community service, regulations on the protection of the forest, among others.


Photo: Fundaeco

Improvements to the BICA Utila´s facilities were developed to allow BICA to optimize their use.


To date, BICA Utila has installed 14 demarcation buoys: six in the limits of the protected area and eight particularly in the Fish Replenishment Zone, hiring the Roatan Marine Park (RMP) staff to do the demarcation process. The demarcation activity was socialized and participated the representative of the Municipal Environmental Unit, the Municipal Police, the Honduras’ Naval Force and fishermen from the island and Los Cayitos.


Photo: MAR Fund



Photo: MAR Fund


One hundred and seventy-nine water patrols were carried out during 2018 with the support of the Honduran Navy in the two Marine Special Protection Zones (Turtle Harbour Rock Harbour and Raggedy Cay South West Cay) and also in the recently established fish replenishment zones. As a result of these water patrols, a fish trap placed inside the Raggedy Cay Southwest Cay area was confiscated; illegal fishing products (parrot fish and lobsters) were confiscated and destroyed by the Honduras’ Naval Force.


Photo: MAR Fund



Photo: MAR Fund


Between July 2 and 6, two training activities (fish and coral monitoring) were carried out using the AGRRA methodology to collect data on coral reefs. The monitoring of the reef’s health was carried out by CORAL, HRI, BICA Utila staff and community volunteers from July 7-10, sampling a total of 12 sites.


Photo: MAR Fund



Photo: MAR Fund


On July 1, the sea turtle nesting season began on the Pumpkin Hill beach. By September, 92 patrols were carried out, achieving the following results: 42 confirmed nests; 15 probable nests; 89 false climbs (80 from Hawksbill turtle and 9 from Loggerhead turtle) and 4,187 baby sea turtles were born.


The 12th Lionfish Derby was held in July 2018. Sixty-six competitors participated in 16 teams from different diving schools. As a result of the derby, 439 lionfish were captured.


Photo: MAR Fund



Photo: MAR Fund


BICA Utila continues with the glass bottles recycling project and the sale of glasses, ashtrays and cups. With matching funds, BICA Utila began the process of preparing its Sustainability Strategy, through a consultancy developed by Wolf’s Company.


Education and knowledge exchange
To give continuity to the environmental education plan, between July and September BICA-Utila offered talks to 1781 students. The topics were recycling and reusing cardboard, endangered species, coral reefs, endemic species, and renewable energy, among others.


Photo: MAR Fund



Photo: MAR Fund


The “Reef Leaders”, community young leaders who support BICA Utila in their environmental education and monitoring programs, were strengthened through a course on Culture and tour guides. This activity will allow them to begin the process of offering their services as local guides on the island.


On September 21, BICA Utila inaugurated its “Blue Classroom”, with the participation of the environmental Educators of the three BICAs (Utila, Roatan and Guanaja), the Utila Municipal Council of Education, the Board of Directors of Education and teachers of the educational centers. This classroom is a space located within the visitor center of BICA Utila, suitable for children and visitors to learn about the marine ecosystem.


Photo: MAR Fund



Photo: MAR Fund


BICA Utila joins the Bay Island Coastal Clean Up movement (BICCU), and together with Utila Beach Clean Up, Kanahau, Bay Islands Foundation and the Whale Shark and Oceanic Research Center, carried out a beach cleanup to commemorate the “International Year of the Reef.” Sixty BICA volunteers and Reef leaders participated.


Photo: MAR Fund

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:


Approved Budget: US$41,581 Duration of Project: 12 months


General Objective:
BAS will build 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:
With the support of the Belize Marine Fund (BMF) and counterpart support from the European Commission, BAS conducted a total of 208 joint patrols with the Belize Coast Guard at Lighthouse Caye Atoll (LHRA) Marine Reserve. This included patrols in known hot spots with the reserve, and an intelligence driven special joint operation on August 9th and 10th, 2018 with several enforcement agencies including Belize Police Department, and the Belize Fisheries Department, which resulted in eight fishers being arrested and charged for the offences of ‘Possession of conch during the close season’ and Possession of undersize conch—in the relation to 614 market clean conch that was found in their possession. Subsequently, the patrol team also conducted a search on Long Caye, LHRA which led to the discovery of 1,916 abandoned, market-cleaned conchs hidden in the dense mangrove swamp. The items were labeled as found property.



The organization also conducted three boat to boat sessions engaging a total of 190 fishers in discussions around Managed Access, data recording in catch log books, fisher’s support for the piloting of digital log books, and documenting fishers’ thoughts and prospective on discussions around the proposed ban on gillnets. To determine the level of compliance as it related to the completion of the MA log books, BAS also conducted two surveys with fishers. According to BAS, of the 33 fishing vessels inspected, only four were in non-compliance with the completion of catch log books. Additionally, in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA), BAS is also working to develop a digital data model for recording catch per unit effort (CPUE) for use in the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) platform.

Approved Budget: US$45,000 Duration of Project: 12 months


General Objective:
Supporting the 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:
In 2018, FoH established two nursery tables at False Caye, and out planted a total of 14,016 nursery-grown acroporids at the four target sites of Laughing Bird Caye National Park (LBCNP), South Silk Cayes, Moho Caye, and False Caye. Additionally, fish survey data, and all photo mosaics collected at both LBCNP and Moho Caye were sent to Boston University for analysis and to University of Miami for stitching, respectively. While FoH asserts that no conclusions can be drawn at this juncture from preliminary results on analysis of fish biomass—owning to the need for additional analysis and comparisons between sites; preliminary analysis of completed mosaics at LBCNP 2014 -2018, reflects very exciting results. For example, photo mosaics of specific sites in LBCNP conducted in 2016 just ~one week after Hurricane Earl, a category one storm, that indirectly hit LBCNP showed drastically reduced coral cover. However, by 2018 there were significant increases in coral cover at a number these sites, where coral cover increased from 15.75% in 2017 to almost 32% in 2018 (sub-site 20), and at sub-site 9 from ~27% in 2017 to over 39% in 2018, where there is sequential (2017-2018) data.


According to FoH these preliminary results verify that acroporids are highly adapted to disturbances and high energy sites, meaning that relatively minor disturbances actually invigorate their growth and asexual spread. Use of photo-mosaics over the long term gives quantitative data on percent coral cover increases that brings FoH closer to establishing the minimum number of out-plants needed to replenish new sites, and also indicates that FoH is meeting its general goal of demonstrating increases of at least 10% coral cover on the replenished sites.


Fig:1 Coral cover analyzed by completing photo-mosaics and using CPCe for annotation, at six replenished plots in LBCNP, 2014-2018. Total coral cover is on the Y-axis, and the sub-site names are on the X-axis; years are in legend and color coded. Only sub-sites 24 and 23 were unplanted in August 2014, (then out-planted in November 2014), reflecting the baseline coral cover at LBCNP prior to restoration efforts (red bars <5% coral cover). Sub-sites 20 and 21 were out-planted in May 2014, and sub-sites 9 and 13 were out-planted in December 2010. Mosaics were conducted in August of each year, and no additional corals were added.

Approved Budget: US$45,000 Duration of Project: 12 months


General Objective:
Using its Framework for Integrated Stock and Habitat Evaluation (FISHE) –also called the adaptive management framework (AMF), EDF will assess the management of targeted finfish species in Belize.


Project Progress:
Through a series of workshops, EDF has assisted in building the capacity of key partners (including the Belize Fisheries Department, MPA co-managers and fishers) on the fundamentals of data-limited and resource-constrained approaches to fisheries management. The organization has also taken critical steps towards creating and implementing finfish management plan(s), to reverse trends in overfishing. EDF’s leadership has been integral in Belize’s advancement and adaptation of science-based fishery management plans for conch, and lobster (underway). In collaboration with its partners, the organization has worked to develop an innovative approach for multispecies management of finfish in Belize. EDF has also advanced collaboration and dialogue with a diverse, multi-sector group of Belizean fishers, community, government, and NGO partners, who are now aligned behind implementing management of finfish.

Approved Budget: US$44,952 Duration of Project: 12 months


General Objective:
According to TNC this Finance Platform for Sustainable Seaweed Production will contribute to the restoration of fisheries and protect marine habitat, while supporting livelihoods in coastal communities.


Project Progress:
Through this grant, TNC specifically targeted the economic resilience of the up-and-coming sustainable seaweed sector in Belize by establishing a Finance Platform for Sustainable Seaweed Production through a model that supports conservation. TNC’s holistic approach calls for the timely and coordinated development of conservation standards, productivity and farm design, sitting criteria, regulatory framework among other important instruments and tools that will guide a controlled growth in a sustainable way.


Therefore, through this collaborative initiative, TNC initiated stakeholder consultation on the economic sustainability of seaweed farming, successfully advance the design of the criteria for smart placement of seaweed farms at optimal sites, and conducted ecological and socioeconomic baseline surveys to advance knowledge on the restoration functions of seaweed farms to assist in regeneration of fisheries, and to inform best practices in developing sustainable seaweed aquaculture in Belize. TNC also collaborated with the Placencia Producers Cooperative to pilot the design and implementation of a new and more eco-friendly seaweed farm design, using a bamboo-raft method which eliminates the need for plastic bottles and styrofoam buoys. According to TNC, preliminary results using this method have shown an increase in seaweed productivity by an estimated three-fold.

Approved Budget: US$45,000 Duration of Project: 12 months


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:
On June 12th, 2018 WCS hosted the 2nd Annual Women in Fisheries Forum (WIFF), at the Belize Best Western Bilmore Hotel in Belize City, under the theme “Working towards Zero Hunger with Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SFF).” The Forum saw the participation of 55 women working within Belize’s small-scale fisheries sector, ranging from managers, fisherwomen, fish processors, vendors, and women from Belize’s in-land fisheries. A key component of the WIFF2 was the socialization of the SSF guidelines, which incorporated the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication into the policy, programs, plans, and other initiatives of the Belize Fisheries Department (BFD). During the Forum participants were also provided updates regarding progress on the Gender Action Plan conceived at the 2017 WIFF, which gave special attention to gender equality, equity, and human rights-based approaches in the fisheries sector.


The organization also contracted communications group, PCI Media Impact to assist with the development, production, monitoring and evaluation of Season 3 of Punta Fuego/Talking Fuego. This has included the retention of a creative team, including a scriptwriter, director, and sound technician. Additionally, RSV Limited (Love FM) a well-known local media house with national listenership has also been engaged to broadcast Season 3 of Punta Fuego/Talking Fuego. The organization has also facilitated a Creative Workshop with representatives from the Belize Fisheries Department and fishing communities, which informed the creation of the Knowledge Attitude and Behaviors (KAB) document. This document will guide the episodic development process for Season 3. WCS won the 2017 Gold Hermes Creative Award for Communication and Marketing Campaign for Punta Fuego Season 2.



Fisherwomen speaking about their experience at Women in Fisheries Forum
Photo: WCS


Punta Fuego creative team accepting 2017 Gold Hermes Creative Award for Communication and Marketing Campaign for Punta Fuego Season 2
Photo: WCS


View of attendees at Women in Fisheries Forum
Photo: WCS

Approved Budget: US$45,000 Duration of Project: 18 months


General Objective:
To better understand the resilience potential of targeted Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Belize, WWF will conduct a “snapshot” resilience assessment of a representative sample of Belize’s MPAs, analyzing a matrix of ecological, physical, socio-economic and adaptive capacity indicator.


Project Progress:
Through its efforts to conduct a “snapshot” resilience assessment of the climate resilience potential of targeted MPAs, WWF has been successful at formalizing collaboration with project partners (including HRI, GCFI, UB-ERI, and FoH), fine-tuning the project’s methodology with its scientific expert panel, completing its field research plan, executing desktop research, and compiling some of the baseline data that will feed into the ecological and socio-economic analysis. Findings of this project will feed into a regional International Climate Initiative Project (IKI) project being executed by WWF, aimed that mainstream climate-smart principles in MPA management and coastal development policies within the MAR.



WWF’s Nadia Bood (far right) meeting SEA’s Executive Director Arreini Palacio (far left) and SEA’s Science Director Denise Garcia (Center) project partners.

Approved Budget: US$45,000 Duration of Project: 12 months


General Objective:
Highlighting and demonstrating Belize’s commitment to sustaining the Belize Barrier Reed Reserve System World Heritage Site.


Project Progress:
With the assistance of the Belize Marine Fund and other collaborative partners, a high-level delegation of key Government Officials—including the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) of Belize Hon. Patrick Faber; Minister of Forest, Fisheries, the Environment and Sustainable Development, Hon. Omar Figueroa; and Belize’s UNESCO Secretary General Mr. Roosevelt Blades—represented Belize in Manama, Bahrain from June 24th – July 4th, 2018 for the 42nd Session of the World Heritage Committee; where after nine (9) years, the Belize Barrier Reef World Heritage Site was officially removed from the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. The presence of key Government officials at this meeting offered an opportunity for Belize to articulate its continued and sustained commitment to reef conservation. Another highlight of this momentous occasion was a local celebration hosted in Belize on June 26th, 2018 after the official announcement of Belize’s removal from the in-danger list. Key speakers at that event included Dr. Percival Cho, the Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development; while remarks were read on behalf of Ms. Janet Gibson, who was instrumental in getting the BBRRS WHS its initial designated in 1996.


(Right to Left) Deputy Prime Minister of Belize Hon. Patrick Faber and Minister of Environment Hon. Omar Figueroa representing Belize at the 42nd Session of the World Heritage Committee in Manama, Bahrain.
Photo: WWF


WWF hosted celebration in Belize City commemorating Belize’s removal from the list of WHS in danger.
Photo: WWF

Approved Budget: US$43,292 Duration of Project: 12 months


General Objective:
Sea to Shore Alliance will identify current and emerging threats to Belize’s manatee population by conducting strategic monitoring, tracking, and health assessments along the coast of Belize and in the Placencia Lagoon.

Project Progress:
Sea2Shore has successfully conducted drone and boat surveys to better understand how boats are impacting manatees at both its Belize City and Placencia study sites; and manatee health assessments to ascertain the wellbeing of Belize’s manatee population. Through its awareness efforts, the organization also visited 12 schools in Belize City and surrounding communities, and 6 schools in Placencia engaging and educating a total of at least 800 students about the importance and plight of Belize’s manatee population. Additionally, Sea2Shore facilitated three Manatee Training Workshops with tour guides and tour operators in Placencia and Belize City, which saw the certification of 244 guides trained in wildlife-friendly boat tourism. These workshops were hosted by Sea to Shore Alliance in collaboration with the Belize Port Authority, Forest Department and the Belize Tourism Board (BTB). Finally, Sea2Shore partnered with the Belize Port Authority to conduct twice weekly patrols, and installed speed restriction and no wake signs at strategic locations in known manatee hotspots along the coast of Belize City/the Belize River mouth and in the Placencia Lagoon.


A Selection of Tour Guide Training Participants.
Photo: Sea to Shore Alliance


Manatee Health Assessment.
Photo: Sea to Shore Alliance


School Presentation with special needs kids.
Photo: Sea to Shore Alliance

Small Grant Awards:


Approved Budget: US$30,000 Duration of Project: 12 months


General Objective:
TAT, in collaboration with key partners and stakeholders, will work to strengthen Turneffe´s fishing community, enhancing their ability to become environmental stewards and set the stage for Turneffe to become a model sustainable fishery

Project Progress:
With the BMF’s support, TAT completed its queen conch monitoring in late 2017, sampling four transects at 66 separate sites in Turneffe, and collected genetic samples of queen conch from nine separate areas throughout Belize—including six marine protected areas and three sites at Turneffe—data that was integral to the development of a report on Turneffe’s conch population. The organization also developed a number of additional studies that will support key aspects of resources management at Turneffe. These includes studies on lobster abundance and distribution at Turneffe, assessments of climate change impact, and the blue carbon value for Turneffe, and an evaluation of the storm mitigation value of mangrove coverage at the Atoll. TAT also completed Business Plans and Feasibility Analyses for 1) an Ice Production Factory, 2) a Commercial Lionfish Processing Plant 3) Emergency Communications for Fishers, and 4) a Medical Facility at Turneffe Atoll.


Conch Survey.
Photo: Turneffe Atoll Trust

Approved Budget: US$29,250 Duration of Project: 12 months


General Objective:
SEA is working to address the need for improved management effectiveness within SEA co-managed protected areas as identified and prioritized during both site level and systems level management planning for the Southern Belize Reef Complex.

Project Progress:
In collaboration with the Belize Coast Guard, SEA has conducted sustained daily joint patrols of the Gladden Spit and Slik Cayes Marine Reserve (GSSCMR), and Laughing Bird Caye National Park (LBCNP). The organization has also commenced efforts around the installation of new demarcation buoys within the boundaries of the GSSCMR and LBCNP by conducting an initial inventory of required material, and has requested quotations for needed material from potential vendor. SEA’s Education and Outreach Manager also conducted awareness presentation(s) at the Placencia Tour Guide Association’s quarterly meeting(s).

Additionally, the organization has developed a draft map of the LBCNP depicting the boundaries of the reserve—including proposed GPS coordinates for the LBCNP demarcation buoys; and has created educational signage for the GSSCMR to apprise visitors of rules/regulations and appropriate conduct when visiting the site. SEA staff has also conducted boat-to-boat sessions from 18th-20th July, 2018, having been trained in the methodology by co-management colleagues from BAS. During these sessions, a total of 67 fishers were encountered over the three-day period; with a vast majority being sailboat fishers. The objective of these boat-to-boat sessions was to ensure fishers were aware of park regulations within Managed Access Area 3 (Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes) fishing zone.

Approved Budget: US$30,000 Duration of Project: 12 months


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:
As part of national activities commemorating World Oceans Day 2018, Oceana in Belize and the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage officially recognized the Government and people of Belize for their collective leadership in establishing the world’s first indefinite moratorium against offshore oil. The Ocean Champion award was formally presented to Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Dean Barrow during ceremonies in Belize City on Saturday, June 9th, 2018. Oceana also continues in its efforts at advocating for the use of non-destructive and sustainable fisheries gear, and anticipates partnering with Aquatica Submarines on an upcoming mission to Belize, to generate communication for their Great Blue Hole expedition. Additionally in working to engage Belizean fishing communities as key agents in the protection of fisheries resources, Oceana gave presentations and held meetings in Corozal, Belize City, Stann Creek, Toledo, and the Cayes with local community members to discuss the importance of protecting Belize’s marine resources, including maintaining the moratorium but also stressing the need to reduce the use of destructive gear such as gillnets.


Left to Right: Oceana in Belize Vice-President Janelle Chanona; Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Dean Barrow; and Mrs. Kim Simplis-Barrow at World Oceans Day Recognition Ceremony hosted by Oceana.
Photo: Oceana

Approved Budget: US$30,000 Duration of Project: 12 months


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

Project Progress:
Through its efforts, WCS is examining the use of a customizable SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) based software on Android tablets that provides trained citizen technicians with simple, menu-driven fields to collect detailed fisheries data (species, size, gear, area). During the period of June to August 2018 catch data collection was conducted by teams of local citizen technicians in Corozal, Caye Caulker, Belize City, Dangriga and Placencia. A total of 4,302 individual products (3020 fish, 870 conch, and 412 lobsters) were identified and measured across the five communities. This included 45 species of fish from 6 of the 8 managed access zones. Additionally, WCS in partnership with Oceana conducted restaurant visits in both San Pedro and Caye Caulker to promote the adoption of the local seafood sustainability certification brand, Fish Right Eat Right (FRER). A total of six restaurants, including El Fogon, Estel’s, Fido’s Courtyard and Bar, Elvis Kitchen, Dive Bar, and Wild Mangos have signed up for FRER.


Proprietor of El Fogon with FRER Certificate.
Photo: WCS

Approved Budget: US$30,000 Duration of Project: 18 months


General Objective:
Youths from Copper Bank, Chunox and Sarteneja will take part in a training program to build their knowledge, technical capacity and skills in marine research and monitoring techniques, as a form of alternative livelihood, and an approach for improved management effectiveness of Half Moon Caye and Blue Hole National Monument.

Project Progress:
Using a defined selection criterion, 15 students (nine males and six females—from the Sarteneja Baptist and Chunox St. Victor High Schools) were chosen to participate in BAS’s Reef Protector’s Program.


BAS engaged its Reef Protector’s in a leadership training and field trip to South Water Caye Marine Reserve, to building local knowledge, stewardship, and understanding of the importance of the Belize’s marine protected areas’ ecosystems diversity. Eight participants of the program also successfully completed open water dive certification training, while 12 participants enrolled in a two weeks internship at Half Moon Caye in July 2018. During the internships participants took part in a series of lectures and on-site activities that included sea grass monitoring, coral reef, sharks and rays, sampling methodologies and sea bird identification.

Additionally, BAS executed a “Community Share Time/Movie Night” in Sarteneja village, which saw the participation of 77 individuals from that community and the surrounding villages. On September 15th, 2018 a recognition ceremony was held for the reef protectors, acknowledging their successful participation in the program.

Reef Protector Recognition Ceremony .
Photo: BAS



Photo: BAS



Diving at Half Moon Caye.
Photo: BAS

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 (9th) 2016

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

All projects from the ninth request for proposals are ended and they have had interesting results, as indicated below:

Grantee: Southern Environmental Association (SEA)


Final results:

  • The Carrying Capacity Studies for Laughing Bird Caye and South Silk Caye and updating of the Management Plans for Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve and Laughing Bird Caye National Park were completed.
  • The management planning consultation sessions, including data collection and validation, ensured communication and active participation during the project.
  • SEA will communicate the progress on the approval of the Management Plans by the Belize Fisheries and Forest Department to the relevant stakeholders during Tour Guide Association Meetings, Managed Access Meetings and Outreach activities conducted by SEA Education team.


Fishermen consultation session
Photo: SEA

Grantee: Centro Universitario Regional del Atlántico (CURLA) in coordination with FUCAGUA


Final results:

  • Creation of a) maps of the seagrass beds cover, b) map of the natural limits of the seagrass beds and c) bathymetry image of the study area.
  • Characterization of seagrass species (Thalassia testudinium and Halophila baillonii) and associated species (e.g. macroalgae, anemones, sponges, sea cucumbers, snails, jellyfish and fishes), all included in a catalogue developed by the project.
  • Evaluation of density of the seagrass beds (68.7%, 181,2 ha) and their biodiversity, as well as density of starfish (0.0046 ind/m2).
  • A monitoring protocol for seagrass bed and carbon was produced.
  • Estimation of carbon capture ranged from 2,342 Mg C to 88,689 Mg C.


Acknowledgment to the Naval Force of Honduras for his help and support during the project
Photo: CURLA

Grantee: Amigos de Sian Ka’an (ASK)


Final results:

  • Eleven permit holders of the Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve and the Arrecifes de Xcalak National Park were evaluated through the Good Sustainable Practices of the Aquatic Activities Guide and Ecotourism Guide. The evaluation resulted in 11 case studies that were presented in the workshop Guide of Good Sustainable Practices.
  • Thirteen community guides obtained the Guide Accreditation for Tourism Oriented towards Nature (NOM 009 TUR 2002) with specific activity in Environmental Interpretation after following the training offered in collaboration with the Latin American Center for Training and Training for Guides in Tourism S.C. (CENLATUR),
  • The training included six modules: I. Tourism Oriented towards Nature, II. First Aid, III. Group Management 1, IV. Quality for the Tourist Guide Service, V. Environmental Interpretation and VI. Group Management 2.
  • The general public was informed about the importance of the application of the measures of the Manual of Good Biosecurity Practices created by the project.


Environmental Interpretation Training
Photo: ASK

Grantee: Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA)


Final results:

  • The geospatial analysis for the characterization of blue carbon ecosystems was concluded using the data generated by the Project Conservation of Marine Resources in Central America (MAR Fund-KfW) and confirming the information with ground truthing, determining that mangroves and seagrasses are distributed in 6,655 hectares and 24,461 hectares, respectively, within the protected natural area.
  • The study reported four mangrove species (Conocarpus erectus, Rizophora mangle, Avicenia germinans and Laguncularia racemosa), and three main species of seagrass (Thalassia testudinum, Syringodium filiforme and Halodule wrightii).
  • The estimation of the blue carbon storage in the mangroves and seagrass beds resulted in a contribution in avoided emissions of approximately 38.4 million tons of CO2 equivalent (750.6 ± 150.8 Mg C ha-1).
  • Results were socialized with local stakeholders and authorities as an opportunity to implement regional strategies for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.


Field study determining blue carbon storage
Photo: CEMDA

Grantee: Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI)


Final results:

  • The characterization of five potential fish spawning aggregation sites at Cozumel Island was finalized and 3-D maps were generated.
  • Ten fishermen from the Fishing Cooperatives of Cozumel and two persons from the staff of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas -CONANP- in Cozumel) were trained on: bathymetry and fish spawning aggregation site monitoring, among others.
  • Information was presented in public forums as well as in meetings with two fishing cooperatives (with 72% of their partners) and through infographics and triptychs.
  • With the data generated in this project, protection in potential fish aggregation sites will be promoted of the sites in the north of Quintana Roo in the coming years.


Training for fish spawning aggregation site monitoring
Photo: COBI

Grantee: Moxviquil


Final results:

  • The diploma finalized with a total of 21 people trained: 14 from federal protected areas (11 from Quintana Roo, 2 from Yucatan and 1 from Campeche), 4 from state protected areas (Quintana Roo) and 3 from civil society organizations.
  • The modules of the diploma were: 1. The wellbeing and labor of a worker for conservation, 2. Governance, 3. Participatory management in marine protected areas, 4. Conflict management in marine protected areas.
  • A social participation strategy for conservation was generated for each protected area participating in the diploma.
  • A network of graduates of the Diploma is being proposed to continue activities and share the knowledge acquired (e.g.: training of federal, state and CSO staff).


Group of people who participated in the diploma

Grantee: Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatán (PPY)


Final results:

  • The aquatic censuses for the observation and capture of juveniles in the 3 sampling areas (Punta Caracol, Los Cuevones and Punta Mosquito) were completed, providing condition indexes of individuals within the range recorded in the literature.
  • The values of relative density obtained in this study were relatively constant in the three areas in the different sampling periods, ranging between 0.068 and 0.404 ind/km, except in Punta Mosquito during the last monitoring, where 11 turtles were observed, reaching 2.071 ind/km.
  • The basic data collected (bathymetric measurements of beach profiles, sea levels and waves) allowed the development of various scenarios to determine the influence of climate change in coastal areas and on nesting beaches.
  • The results show: i) the importance of beach conservation as support for sea turtle nesting, protection of the coast and recreational activities related to tourism; and ii) the feasibility of using stilt houses along the coastline as blinds in turtle research projects even during storm events.


Turtle census and monitoring
Photo: PPY

Grantee: OCEANUS


Final results:

  • The new site “La Atlántida” is suitable for coral restoration. Five-hundred colonies were transplanted to this site with a high survival rate (>80%).
  • The training for a local restoration group (10 participants from NGOs and local people) was completed (practicing maintenance and monitoring techniques). A new group of tourist guides (18 people) was trained by Xplora – private sector.
  • Results of the project were presented during the World Environmental Day and other conferences.
  • Dissemination materials (brochures and signs placed at the entrance of the restoration sites for tourists) were developed.


Coral nursery monitoring

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: APROSARSTUN. Guatemala


Progress to date:

  • Two studies: “Socioeconomic analysis of the manjua (sardine) fishery” and the “Plan of Economic Alternatives for the shrimp and manjua fishing communities”, have finalized.
  • 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 present in the area (municipality of Livingston, AMMUDIS, CAIMI and FUNDAECO-AAT Consortium).
  • 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, Julhà y la Ceiba.


Workshop with communities

Grantee: Fundación Mundo Azul. Guatemala


Progress to date:

  • Workshops were organized to generate awareness to climate change, greenhouse gases, adaptation and mitigation strategies to climate change, focusing on strengthening the response capacity of four communities (Quineles, Cabo Tres Puntas, La Graciosa and El Quetzalito).
  • An adaptation strategies matrix is being 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.


Participation of the community. Preparation of adaptation strategies matrix.
Photo: Fundación Mundo Azul

Grantee: Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza. Guatemala.


Progress to date:

  • Systematization of the existing biological information (list of all species updated) was achieved, as well as socioeconomic information of 20 communities distributed in the protected area.
  • An update was made to the area’s cartography, generating 10 different maps.
  • The RAMSAR file was updated and is under revision from CONAP.
  • A work plan to update the Master Plan was prepared by a consultant and delivered to CONAP, currently under review.
  • The financial information is being collected to prepare the annual budget of the protected area covering all the components the Master Plan has.


Species’ Actualization Field trip
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 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.
  • The water manual “The water system in my community” was written and socialized with 15 different organizations and presented to students from Miguel Paz Barahona school.


Evaluation of the new fee for water service
Photo: Polo

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


Progress to date:

  • BICA and ELAW have been advocating to promote the inclusion of “pepenadores” (people who collect solid waste) in the Roatán municipality plan for waste management, to purchase protective gear, provide basic services such as vaccination and develop regulations for the landfill.
  • 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 favour.
  • The mayor approved the construction of a new sanitary landfill that meets the needs of the community.
  • Two solid waste management plans were designed in 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.


“Good practices” brochure. Island information campaign
Photo: BICA

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


Progress to date:

  • 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.
  • Procedures started for opening a new savings account in Banco Atlántida as a seed fund for the organization.
  • 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.


Evaluation of honey products

Grantee: Casa Wayu’. Mexico.


Progress to date:

  • The final evaluation and follow-up visits are being carried out for 17 hotels and 2 restaurants, observing important changes in their good practices.
  • A performance report checklist was given to each business and is now used for the analyses of good practices in all hotels and restaurants evaluated.
  • Four different programs were updated in hotels and restaurants: energy savings, water savings, solid waste management and hazardous waste management.
  • Nine conferences for the hotels and restaurants involved in the project were organized and focused on awareness of good environmental practices, hazardous waste management, urban solid waste management and climate change.


CASA WAYU´. Implementation of good practices: use of water jar instead of plastic battles in hotel rooms.

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


Progress to date:

ECOME 7 developed from October 6 – 16 (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 de Manabique Wildlife Refuge in Guatemala; 7) Turtle Harbor-Rock Harbour Special Marine Protection Zone /BICA Utila and 8) Sandy Bay West End Special Marine Protection Zone /BICA-Roatán) in Honduras.

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


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

7 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 in Belize; 4) Río Sarstún Multiple Use Area and 5) Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge in Guatemala; 6) Turtle Harbor-Rock Harbour Special Marine Protection Zone /BICA Utila and 7) Sandy Bay West End Special Marine Protection Zone /BICA-Roatán) in Honduras

Two protected areas joined the exercise without funding from the small grant: a) Santuario del Manatí State Reserve and, b) Isla Contoy National Park.

  • 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.
  • For ECOME 8, all data are still under revision.


ECOSUR. Sampling operations during ECOME 7.

Grantee: Fundación Comunitaria Cozumel. Mexico.


Progress to date:

  • The Control and Surveillance Community Committee was established.
  • Two meetings to design strategies on social participation in the patrols have been done between the Community Committee and the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP).
  • Twelve community rangers have been trained on environmental legislation.
  • 28 marine patrols (two in collaboration with providers of tourism services) resulted in:
    • 369 vessels were conducting tourism activities within the protected area without authorization, of those 27 were reported.
    • Seven complaints were made to Cozumel Port Authorities, two more to the Federal Office for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA).


Strategical meeting

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


Final Results:

  • The final version of the biosecurity protocol of 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, APIQROO, ASUR, AVIOMAR and SACBÉ. In order to promote the appropriation of the Biosecurity Protocol of Cozumel Island among the key stakeholders and the community of the island, diverse diffusion material were designed: t-shirts, caps and prints of endemic and native species representative of Cozumel Island. Four sets of the materials were shared with MAR Fund / FMCN and the rest was handed over to CONANP.


Presentation of the “Biosecurity Protocol”.
Photo: GECI

Grantee: Moxviquil. Mexico.


Progress to date:

  • Four youth groups are participating in the project, three of them presented their community project proposals as follows:
  • The group “Jovenes Eco-Pro” in Chetumal will implement a rally-type contest and a photographic exhibition with the best 40 photographs taken by the group members during their field visits.
  • “Protectores de Xcalak”, will carry out a sign painting activity with conservation messages, which will be distributed in different locations of the community;
  • “Protectores de la Bahia” from the Colegio de Bachilleres of Laguna Guerrero, will organize an event for environmental clean-up (mangrove cleaning);
  • Sirenas de Chiquilá (a new group of 8 young women) is working on their idea.


One of the Juvenile Leader Group “Jóvenes Eco-Pro” in Chetumal

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.


in the Mesoamerican Reef

Through the implementation of the Re-granting initiative supported by Oak Foundation, seven projects have had interesting progress so far, as indicated below:


Grantee: Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI)


Progress to date:

  • HRI launched the 2018 Report Card on the Health of the Mesoamerican Reef in all four countries. All launch events included at least 50 guests and had the participation of key partners in each country.
  • Four new partners have joined the initiative: in Guatemala: Pixan’Ja, in Mexico: Amigos de Isla Contoy A.C. and Centinelas del Agua A.C., and in Honduras: Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS).
  • In October 2018, the 6th Regional Partners Meeting was held at Caye Caulker, in Belize. More than 40 participants form the four countries of the MAR region gathered together to develop the 2019 Report Card topics and share lessons learned from conservation and management efforts.



  • Five coral reef monitoring training workshops were developed and 70 field biologists were trained in the AGRRA reef monitoring protocol and database entry: 18 from Mexico, 7 from Belize, 37 from Honduras and 8 from Guatemala.





  • Reef monitoring activities were developed after training. Over 118 sites have been monitored along the MAR region.



  • HRI staff developed different activities at special events (World Environment Day and the World Oceans Day), enhancing public awareness and support for marine conservation. In Mexico, these celebrations were followed by actions and activities to diminish single-use plastic consumption.
  • HRI jointly with Polo’s Water Association, in Roatán, Honduras, secured two more grants for better management of waste water treatment: CORAL ($31K) and MAR Fund ($30K).
  • As of December 2018, 284 households and businesses were connected to the treatment plant, equivalent to 98% of households/businesses.
  • HRI worked together with Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA) and Amigos de Sian Ka’an to improve the Mexican law that establishes the contamination limits for discharge to the environment. This law has been opened for public review. A workshop was held by Amigos de Sian Ka’an to gather the opinions from other Quintana Roo organizations. The proposal was submitted to the official online portal for public laws consultations (General Law of Regulatory Improvement) as a group and as individuals in order to achieve higher impact and reach more key stakeholders. By the end of 2018, no response to this proposal has been received.
  • In March 2018, the Honduran Congress approved and ratified the Cartagena Convention and its three protocols. This was published in May of the same year in La Gaceta (the country’s official journal) and MAR Fund co-financed the publication.
  • HRI has submitted proposals to the Wildlife Secretariat in Mexico to include parrotfish species in the protected species list NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010. Ten technical fact sheets on parrotfish species have been submitted to legal process in order to be reviewed by authorities and included into the Mexican law for protected species. HRI’s proposal was also included in the Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve Management Plan, hence protecting parrotfish along almost all the coast of Quintana Roo.
  • HRI´s Director and Guatemalan Coordinator are part of the core team for establishing a network of Fish Replenishment Zones in the MAR. They also are co-authors in the published document Biophysical Principles for Designing a Network of Replenishment Zones for the MAR.
  • Pilot restoration sites have been selected in Mexico (Akumal), Honduras (Half Moon Bay, Roatan) and Belize (Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve) to test methods and success of re-seeding Caribbean king crab and Diadema. These restoration activities will have the support of government institutions, academia and NGOs in each country.





  • On July 3, 2018, researchers from UNAM and CONANP discovered a reef near Puerto Morelos, Mexico to have a severe outbreak of coral disease affecting similar species and exhibiting similar patterns as those recently reported in Florida. HRI notified all local partners about the disease, to focus their attention on reporting it during the monitoring season. At the same time, HRI is working in coordination with a viral specialist to try to isolate the disease cause.
  • On March 10, 2019, HRI launched its Mesoamerican Reef Data Explorer Platform, in collaboration with Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA). Now, users are able to visualize, through interactive maps and pictures, over ten years of reef health data collected.

Grantee: Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW)


Progress to date:

  • Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA) staff reviews the Environmental Gazette weekly. If new coastal developments that fall within their priority areas is identify, a joint request with allies and partners to open a public consultation is submitted. CEMDA also conducts a geographic review supported by aerial photography, which is obtained through bi-monthly overflights over the coastline.




  • From August 2017 through November 2018, the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT, by its acronym in Spanish) received 274 project proposals with potential environmental impacts in the state of Quintana Roo. CEMDA requested public consultation proceedings in 195 of those projects and provided observations and analysis in 60 of them. Thirteen complaints, primarily focused on illegal logging of mangroves were submitted but the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA, by its acronym in Spanish) has not yet imposed penalties
  • CEMDA has held four workshops at Solferino, Holbox, Tulum and Puerto Morelos for 52 individuals and distributed its Guide to Citizen Complaints to allied organizations. The topics of these workshops were: environmental impact assessment, environmental crimes and citizen complaints related to fisheries and environmental services of coastal wetlands.




  • Alianza de Derecho Ambiental y Agua (ADA2) provided legal support to municipal leaders in Puerto Barrios, Los Amates, and Morales as they worked to formally establish the Mancomunidad of Izabal, Guatemala.
    • The community of Barrio el Carrizal of Morales, agreed to prohibit the use of styrofoam.  Nevertheless, the regulation needs to be approved to make it obligatory for all the community. ADA2 is working with the technical team of the Municipalities to draft the regulation.
    • Two trainings for 21 municipal leaders to use a mobile App for reporting illegal landfills were carried out. The technical staff of each Municipality is mapping the illegal landfills and implementing surveillance activities.
    • The municipal authorities from Puerto Barrios, Los Amates and Morales presented the Solid Waste Regulation for approval to the Board of Directors of the Mancomunidad. The promulgation of this regulation is expected to be done in March 2019.




  • ADA2 conducted trainings encouraging communities in the Motagua watershed to compost and recycle, raised awareness among children and adults, and organized a “cleanathon” for beaches near Punta de Manabique.






  • At least 40% of the illegal dumpsites in Morales, Izabal, Guatemala were closed down in 2018 and the Municipality intends to close all of them by the end of 2019. However, this will be difficult without appropriate regulation.
  • An App to submit fisheries complaints in the Guatemalan Caribbean and a logbook for reporting illegal fishing has being designed in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Fisheries Department (MAGA-DIPESCA, by its acronym in Spanish). Trainings have been provided to leaders from the Network of Fishermen of the Guatemalan Caribbean, Fishermen of Lake Izabal and the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP, by its acronym in Spanish) staff. Presently, the App is not being used as fishermen have fear of reporting. The application can be download from either Android or Apple application stores under the name: “Denuncias Pesquerías del Caribe” (Complaints Fisheries of the Caribbean). The database is hosted on the DIPESCA server and DIPESCA staff will analyze the data.



  • In Roatán, Honduras, ELAW helped draft three complaints and provided legal advice about developments that would impact the marine environment, such as: a dredging operation offshore of the Roatán Electric Company’s (RECO) new energy generation plant, a floating gas station located in Sandy Bay West End Special Marine Protection Zone.
  • As a result of an exchange of experiences between ELAW and the Tourism Chamber of Honduras, Mr. John Burgos, Executive Director of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), visited Roatan and spoke to 12 hotel and tourism-related business owners about how the association embraces sustainable tourism and promotes best practices in hotels. This outreach aligns well with ELAW’s plans to create a wastewater coalition –the Bay Island Geotourism Council- by first promoting good general practices tied to the very sensitive issue of water quality monitoring.
  • In collaboration with the biologist Juan Canul, an expert on Blue Economy, ELAW visited most West Bay hotels. They conducted interviews with different level hotel staff to assess wastewater treatment systems and practices and identified hotels that lacked appropriate wastewater treatment systems or had malfunctioning or missing phases of the treatment process (particularly tertiary treatment). Advices on best practices and reports were sent to the hotels and businesses visited.



  • ELAW organized two workshops on the new fast-track environmental licensing process and one workshop on how to review Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), for the co-managers of the protected areas of the north coast of Honduras, including the Bay Islands. The co-managers can now replicate the licensing process for a project and find out what the mitigation measures are. However, in September the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MiAmbiente, by its acronym in Spanish) approved an executive order known as “the secretive accord” which declares the technical studies as part of the environmental licensing process to be confidential.





  • In October and November, Monica Alba from Quintana Roo, Mexico, BICA Roatan staff and Laura Palmese implemented four workshops for hotels on waste management and best environmental practices tools. Hotels are already improving their classification and recycling systems.
  • In collaboration with Fernando del Valle, from Quintana Roo, three workshops were held to move participants toward a cleaner production agreement among businesses in Roatan. Mrs. Karen Ludlow and Ms. Syntia Solomon, director and president of the Bay Islands Tourism Bureau (BITB), respectively, agreed to meet in the near future to advance this objective.

Grantee: Comunidad y Biodiversidad A.C. (COBI)


Progress to date:

  • The lobster fishery is the more suitable and with market possibilities in Yum Balam identified by fishers.
  • In April 2018, the Sociedad Cooperativa Producción Pesquera (SCPP) Pescadores de Puerto Morelos established a nine-hectare Fish Replenishment Zone (FRZ) in Cancun, with support from the National Commission of Protected Areas (CONANP, by its acronym in Spanish).
  • In collaboration with six lobster cooperatives, certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the National Commission on Aquaculture and Fisheries (CONAPESCA, by its acronym in Spanish), National Fisheries Institute (INAPESCA, by its acronym in Spanish), CONANP, ECOSUR and COBI organized the annual planning meeting for the Fisheries Improvement Program (FIP) for the lobster fishery. As a result, the 2018 work plan was designed, based on four principles of sustainability: stock health, ecosystem health, functional management and fair trade. The fishery was monitored from July to October in collaboration with Dr. Eloy Sosa, from ECOSUR, who has completed the data analysis for the peak capture months, and his report is under revision.



  • Two fisher exchanges were conducted. The first one, involving eight fishers from two cooperatives of Yum Balam that visited Punta Allen and then María Elena in Sian Ka’an, to see how those cooperatives operate. The second one was with fishers from Cozumel and María Elena visiting Punta Allen. At this meeting, fishers shared information on the fish replenishment zones they have established and how to control the lionfish populations in their fishing grounds.




  • COBI worked with programmers to develop an application (PESCADATA), to be implemented with the six cooperatives from Sian Ka’an and Banco Chinchorro, as well as other areas like Campeche, the Gulf of California and Pacific Baja California. The App includes 21 commercial species and 36 catch areas on the coast of Quintana Roo and Yucatán. The App will allow fishers to see the trends in catches by species, the sites with the highest fishing frequency and size captures over time.
  • COBI has completed the development of the costing application for the implementation of Fish Replenishment Zones and conducted a training course for 14 people from 11 organizations based in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.
  • With the participation of 22 fishers, six oceanographic sensors in six FRZ (Punta Allen (2), Punta Herrero (2) and María Elena (2)) were installed to measure temperature; one sensor also measures sea level height.





  • The cooperative members in Punta Herrero informed COBI that they will renew their FRZ through a new design: three zones will be eliminated and the fourth and largest zone will be expanded to protect five more spawning sites. This expansion will provide additional benefits whilst the sites being removed have not shown increases in biodiversity during the last five years.
  • The characterization of 39 potential FSA sites along the entire coast of Quintana Roo was completed. Of these, eight have been verified as spawning aggregations sites and six of them are protected.




  • COBI held a two-day workshop in Cancun with 31 participants from 18 organizations (including fishing cooperatives, civil society, researchers and governmental conservation and fisheries agencies) to create and adapt the socioeconomic and governance design principles for the Mexican Caribbean. In parallel, they are working to incorporate the design principles in the national agenda.
  • COBI held a workshop (the Civic Laboratory) to facilitate civil society’s participation in building an action plan to address gender inequality in fisheries. The working group decided to work towards developing a methodology with indicators that evidence the contribution of women in the fishing sector.
  • In order to analyze women and men’s role in the lobster’s value chain, COBI held a workshop with the Cozumel Cooperative. As a result, the value chain diagram reported:
    • 6 women and 147 men working directly in the lobster fishery (pre-harvesting: fishing gear preparation, infrastructure and boat maintenance; harvesting: marine resource extraction; post-harvesting: size-sorting, quality inspections, commercialization).
    • 71 women and 2 men working part-time and indirectly in the lobster fishery (administrative work: permits, insurance, accounting; cleaning and hygiene and transportation).

Grantee: Centro de Estudios Marinos (CEM)


Progress to date:

  • Socioeconomic and governance indicators for the Fish Replenishment Zones (FRZ) were established.
  • CEM developed a work plan for a FRZ in Roatán (French Cay), which was promoted with the Inter-institutional Committee of the Bay Island Marine National Park (PNMIB). The biological baseline was compiled and the initiative was socialized with fishermen. On November 20, the French Cay FRZ was established through a municipal ordinance.
  • CEM advanced in gathering information for the socioeconomic baseline for the FRZ of Trujillo and Santa Fe. With the support of the Municipalities and Dirección General de Pesca y Acuicultura (DIGEPESCA – fisheries authority) staff, a field trip was conducted. The information collected is being analyzed.
  • A network of mayors from 14 municipalities from the north coast of Honduras and the Bay Islands was established to promote the sustainable management of marine resources, to coordinate efforts and support the declaration of new FRZ. A collaboration agreement between CEM and the network was signed, as well as an agreement for marine conservation.



  • With the staff of the Department of Protected Areas and Wildlife of the Institute of Forest Conservation (ICF), CEM is defining the regulatory framework of the FRZ within the existing legal platforms, promoting a governance structure (fishers, municipalities and MPA co-managing organizations).
  • The Municipal Ordinance that established two FRZ for Utila: White Water and Old Bank was signed. MAR Fund, through the “Conservation of Marine Resources in Central America-Phase II” project, co-finances this activity through a support granted to BICA- Utila.


  • CEM participated in the updating process of the management plan for the Bay Island Marine National Park Islas (PNMIB). An important result of this process was the inclusion of the category of FRZ as a sub-zoning management mechanism.
  • From August 9 to 10, the Forum “Connecting coastal communities for the integrated management of the marine landscape” was held. CEM presented guidelines for management of the snapper fishery and promoted the protection of fishing banks.
  • In Utila, with the participation of fishers and members of the sub-committee co-managers of the PNMIB at Utila, the “snapper commission” was established to manage the FRZs of this island.
  • CEM has a communication strategy for the FRZ program that has helped to effectively use the institutional communication media and focus the messages according to different audiences. Likewise, it has allowed the development of material (information bulletin and 2017 La Ola magazine) to position the FRZ program and promote the concept and benefits of the FRZ.
  • A marketing strategy was developed and through it, itis expected to position the organization as an important agent for the conservation of the marine resources of the country and the region in order to raise funds in a sustained manner.

Grantee: Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD)


Progress to date:

  • SACD hired a consultant to review and update its strategic plan for the period 2019-2023, and to develop an integrated framework for monitoring and evaluate this plan. It was approved by the Board of Directors on December 19, 2018.
  • A performance evaluation was conducted in July 2018 for the six SACD staff.
  • SACD staff and sixteen members of the Corozal Bay Advisory Committee (CBAC) had a workshop to discuss the importance of fish replenishment zones, protected areas and Managed Access, as well as the structure, rules and responsibilities of CBAC members. There is a co-funding for this activity from a Summit grant given by MAR Fund.



  • Four members of the CBAC and the staff of SACD participated in a field visit to the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve to learn about their fisheries regulations, Managed Access and Fish Replenishment Zones.
  • Two rangers and the Natural Resources Program Manager participated in a four-day expedition to Port Honduras Marine Reserve to learn about their enforcement process related to managed Access and its zones.


  • SACD submitted their application for NGO status to the Attorney General Office at the end of April. On September 27, they were officially recognized as an NGO.
  • The Financial Mobilization Plan was finalized and approved by the SACD Board of Directors. SACD has identified hosting tourism expeditions and tourism packages as the mechanisms to be implemented. The Business Arm registered at the end of March 2019 for the NGO to implement this activities is called “SACD Green Limited”.
  • The SACD Financial Officer has been trained in areas of accounting controls and processes.
  • SACD has been able to maintain its community researchers to eight during 2018 and has increased its staff to seven by March 2019.
  • Patrols have been maintained at an average of three per week, targeting illegal activities and transboundary issues. In 2018, 158 patrols were successfully implemented, of which 67 were joint patrols with the Belize Coast Guard, three with the Forest Department and five with Mexican counterparts (Secretaría de Ecología y Medio Ambiente (SEMA)/ Instituto de Biodiversidad y Areas Naturales Protegidas del Estado de Quintana Roo (IBANQROO), CONAPESCA y Policía Estatal de Quintana Roo).




  • SACD produced the final report of the 2017 water quality monitoring of Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, financed by the MAR Fund/KfW Project. During 2018, SACD completed the field water quality monitoring work for both the dry and wet seasons, the report is pending.

Grantee: Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE)


Progress to date:

  • TIDE measured quadrant 3 of Port Honduras Marine Reserve so as to move forward in the completion of the 4 quadrants for the habitat mapping.



  • Eight dives were developed for the biodiversity monitoring, two dives for each main species (lobster, conch, sea cucumber, coral and fin fish). Each dive is conducted at the beginning of the closed season and the open season for lobster and conch.
  • From October 2017 to September 2018, 397 patrols were conducted in the reserve, were fishing with restricted gear (gill net), they have no fisher folk license, no boat license and had no distinguishing boat mark. The engine and equipment in the vessels were forfeited to the government of Belize. Equipment and materials required for patrols were purchased.
  • Rangers completed four sessions of SMART training; each session dealt with an introduction to the module and the development of a data base to be used by rangers in the field.
  • Improvements in the infrastructure of the organization at Big Falls and Punta Gorda, and purchase of equipment (vehicle).




  • TIDE staff participated in national and international travel conferences to promote the organization.
  • The pier at Abalone Caye was rehabilitated and one cabana was constructed on TIDE private land.




  • To enhance and upkeep TIDE tours recreational equipment the storage area at TIDE compound was improved. A 12ft x 18ft extension on the TIDE existing storeroom was constructed.



Grantee: Southern Environmental Association (SEA)


Progress to date:

  • SEA has purchased, priced and inventoried items (foreign and local) for Laughing Bird Gift Shop (t-shirts, wood carvings, key chains, lionfish crafts and caps). All items were transported to the Gift Shop and are on display for sale. The organization monitors sales and stock each week. From May to August 2018 reported sales were up to US$ 4,013.





  • The Education and Outreach team have designated areas for the placement of signs and have gotten approval from the Placencia Village Council for their installation. SEA worked on the designs of the informative signs of the area. Fliers and folder covers for the brochure material were also worked on, printed and disseminated.
  • As part of the implementation of the Resource Mobilization Plan, the SEA BoD selected the activity of guided tours using glass bottom kayaks within the Placencia Lagoon and South Silk Caye. This was selected as the most feasible and cost-effective activity. A plan for its implementation will be submitted to MAR Fund in April 2019.

The Mesoamerican Reef Rescue Initiative

A new and more functional version of the Network´s website was completed.

  1. Site selection
    • In 2018, from march to October, a total of 14 meetings were held in the four countries of the MAR to inform key stakeholders about the importance of parametric insurance for reefs; including the feasibility studies for its design, and the criteria and indicators to prioritize the reef sites to insure. It has been a highly participatory priority-setting process; 119 people from 47 organizations have participated in the different meetings conducted in the region for socializing the project and for the sites prioritization.
    • A tool to prioritize the sites to be included in the insurance model was developed, based on the tool to prioritize coastal and marine protected areas developed by MAR Fund in 2015. The tool was enhanced with the participation and feedback from coral reef experts in the region, including TNC and Reef Restoration Network Executive Committee.
    • In Honduras, consultation meetings included the participation of key key regional partners and authorities, among them: The Healthy Reef Initiative (HRI)-Honduras; Dirección de Biodiversidad (DiBio); Instituto de Conservación Forestal (ICF); Marina Mercante; Roatan Marine Park; Amantes de la Bahía de Tela (AMATELA); Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL); Bay Island Conservation Association (BICA); Centro de Estudios Marinos (CEM); Fundación Cayos Cochinos, Fundación Cuero y Salado, among others.
    • In Belize, key participants to the meetings included: The Nature Conservancy (TNC); Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA); Fisheries Department; and Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CMZAI).
    • In Mexico, key participants to the meetings included the Directors of the Natural Protected Areas of Quintana Roo, where reef sites are key for the insurance model. The meeting was attended by 15 people, including experts in reef conservation. The prioritization tool for site selection was explained and validated at the meeting. Preliminary sites were identified. Final sites will be discussed in early 2019.
    • In Guatemala, the analysis for site prioritization initiated in October 2018. Final sites will be discussed in early 2019.


  1. Feasibility Studies:
    • Science based studies are carried out to design the insurance model for reefs. Studies include, analyzing the probability of the hurricanes to happen and the parameters or characteristics of the hurricanes that would trigger the insurance; and to 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.
    • Preliminary results of the studies were discussed with regional experts in November, 2018. For doing so, two meetings with coral reef experts and representatives of the governments of the four countries were conducted, one in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, and a second one in Guatemala City. The studies will be finalized during the first semester of 2019.


Meeting held in Guatemala City in November 2018
Photo: Lucy Calderón/MAR Fund
  • In October, in Caye Caulker, Belize, MAR Fund was invited to the 6th Healthy Reef Initiative’s Meeting of Partners. During the meeting, the Coordinator of the Reef Rescue Initiative (RRI) gave a presentation about the Initiative, the MAR Reef Restoration Network and the Insurance model. As a result, there was a greater scope to promote the insurance project in the region.
  • A side event of the 6th HRI Meeting of Partners was held to work on the site selection for the insurance model by country. The meeting was attended by 40 people, including representatives of governments, co-managers of protected areas, representatives of HRI and experts in the restoration of reefs in the region. In addition, the participants were trained in the prioritization tool.
  • On December 4, in the City of Monaco, the RRI was invited by ICRI to participate in the Innovative Finance for Coral Workshop. The workshop was directed and organized by ICRI and Conservation Finance Alliance (CFA). The objective of this workshop was to provide an overview of existing tools, opportunities and approaches to finance marine conservation, with a focus on coral reefs and related ecosystems, as well as enabling factors for the development of financial conservation mechanisms and key steps for its establishment. Claudia Ruiz, coordinator of the RRI, gave a presentation on the Insurance Model as an innovative financial solution for reef restoration. As a result of the workshop, a working group called: ICRI / Working Group was formed. The main functions of the group are: 1) Evaluate existing financial solutions and mechanisms in the countries and member organizations of ICRI; 2) Develop a web platform and webinars in which ICRI members can learn about financing mechanisms in different languages; and 3) Conduct regional meetings / webinars and training programs on finance for marine conservation.
  • In addition, on December 5 and 6, in the City of Monaco, MAR Fund participated as an observer at the 33rd ICRI Assembly. At this meeting, MAR Fund was invited to be part of the ICRI members, for which it will send a request that will be evaluated at the 2019 Assembly.


Claudia Ruiz, Reef Rescue Initiative Coordinador

As a result of the legal analysis conducted to identify the current legislation and regulations related to reef restoration in the MAR region and make the appropriate recommendations that facilitates reef restoration, as well as the actions required in each country for building and carrying out regional protocols, the following set of documents were elaborated: 1) Diagnose of existing legislation in each country regarding reef restoration; b) Recommendations to improve legislation and strengthen the reef restoration efforts of the countries and the region; and c) the critical path to follow to apply the recommendations for new instruments in support of reef restoration and conservation.

The process analysis is strengthened by systematizing the results mentioned above. The objective of the systematization is to produce a series of succinct documents, by country, with the results, lessons learned and recommendations to improve the regulations in each country, and at the regional level. The results of the analysis were reviewed by the Initiative´s Technical Supervisory Committee. A summary of the conclusions and recommendations will be presented to the countries in the first half of 2019.

Additionally, it was carried out an analysis that includes the policy considerations for the countries to invest in innovative financial instruments to support coral reef conservation and restoration following damages from hurricanes. In addition, MAR Fund contacted an expert to analyze and prepare the concept paper Economic justification for the valuation of reefs as national assets and their incorporation in risk assessments related to climate change. This paper includes the policy considerations for the countries to invest in innovative financial instruments to support coral reef conservation and restoration following damages from hurricanes.

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


  • Fragments of Hope, with the support of a small grant from the RRI, promoted a regional exchange that took place in Belize, where various restoration sites were visited at visited Laughing Bird Caye National Park (LBCNP), Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve (GSSCMR), near shore patch reefs with abundant Acropora cervicornis, South Water Caye Marine Reserve (SWCMR), Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve (TAMR) and Caye Caulker. Participants included scientist, restoration practitioners from Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, and experts from Florida State University and from Reef Renewal. The main purpose of the exchange was to provide training in genetic restoration and monitoring techniques of Acropora sp.


Colony transplant and implementation of new techniques for the rehabilitation of reefs in Xcalak-Mahaual. By Oceanus
Progress to date:

  • The revision and maintenance of all existing nurseries is being carried out periodically
  • 1000 colonies were transplanted to a new site in Xcalak, it’s maintenance is being carried out periodically as well.
  • The new local restoration group in Xcalak, (made up of 9 participants, PNAX hoteliers interested in the conservation of its resources) continues its training.
  • Gabriela Nava participated in the conference “Reef Futures” and in the workshop “Hands On” in Florida in December. She also participated in the workshop on coral microfragmentation techniques offered by Dr. Dave Vaughn at the Mote Marine Laboratory.

The TSC conducted its fifth ordinary meeting. The meeting took place on November 12 and 13 in Guatemala City, with the participation of: María del Carmen García, CONANP-Mexico; Adriel Castañeda, Fisheries Department -Belize; Luisa Fernández and Maritza Campos, MARN Guatemala; Skarleth Pineda, DiBio-MiAmbiente-Honduras, and María José González, MAR Fund. Also participated Lucy Calderón, communication intern of MAR Fund, Claudia Ruiz and Escarlet Minera of the RRI.


From left to right:  Adriel Castañeda, Claudia Ruiz, Luisa Fernández, María del Carmen García, Skarleth Pineda y María José González
Photo: Lucy Calderón/MAR Fund


During the meeting there was a presentation of the preliminary results of the Parametric Insurance Studies, with the participation of the following:

  1. Esmeralda Pérez and Fernando Pardo, consultants of the Study: Determination of the correlation between the damage to reefs caused by hurricanes and the characteristics of the hurricanes that cause the damage.
  2. Adrián Villegas, Study Consultant: Determination of the actions required and the cost for to restore the damage caused by hurricanes, in selected reef sites of the SAM Region.
  3. Ileana López, representative of the SPAW Program Director, Cartagena Convention Secretariat, Ecosystems Division ICRI / UN
  4. Ana Giró, Healthy Reefs Initiative Coordinator- Guatemala
  5. Fernando Secaira from The Nature Conservancy, participated remotely.

The main results of the meeting included: 1) Review and approval of the proposed activities and budget for the Reef Recue Initiative Work Plan 2019 budget; 2) Validation and feedback to the preliminary results of the studies for designing the parametric insurance for reefs.


“MAR Fish: Knowledge, monitoring and protection of Mesoamerican Reef spawning areas” 


  • The project was approved thanks to the generous support of the French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM), in December, 2018.
  • The financial agreement between AFD (FFEM) was drafted by FFEM. It has been reviewed and is currently pending signature.
  • The operation manual for the project, among other precedent requirements/documents that will be needed before requesting the first disbursement, are being prepared.
  • The MAR Fish will begin implementation in the second semester of 2019.
  • The overall objective of the program is to support the rebuilding of the Mesoamerican reef fish stock by strengthening the protection and monitoring of a network of fish spawning aggregations (SPAG) sites as critical areas in the life cycle of these species. The four-country project will establish and monitor the first regional spawning area protection network in the Mesoamerican Reef region, contributing to the existing network of marine and coastal protected areas and the network of fish replenishment zones.
  • SPAGs are temporary gatherings of fish that come together for reproduction in densities up to three times higher than those found during non-reproductive periods and are extremely vulnerable to fishing. SPAGs generally represent the near total annual reproductive output of the species that spawn there. Periodic information on SPAG health, critical for their protection, is missing and there is no cohesive, multinational plan to monitor and manage them, nor widespread understanding of their importance. This project looks forward to contribute to filling this gap.
  • Thanks to the support of the Marisla Foundation, a first meetingwas held on April 12, 2019 in Guatemala City, to develop the Action Plan for the MAR Fish project for the total period (3 years) of the project.
  • During the meeting, the core participants examined each component of the project and for each activity agreed on budget, stakeholders involved, form of execution, timeline and indicators.


Mar Fund Staff participating at the aforementioned event: María José González, Executive Director; Patricia Cabrera, Administrative Coordinator; Claudio Gonzalez, Technical Coordinator; Angeline Valentine, Belize Marine Fund Project Officer; Elisa Blanda, Small Grants Program Officer; and Lucy Calderón, Communications.


Facilitator of the event: María José Iturbide


Core participants and their affiliatetd organizations:

Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI): Melanie McField for USA, Melina Soto for Mexico, Nicole Craig for Belize, Ana Giró for Guatemala and Ian Drysdale for Honduras.

Foundation for Eco-development and Conservation (FUNDAECO): Marco Cerezo, Ingrid Arias and Silja Ramirez

Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE): Celia Mahung (remote access)

Southern Environmental Association of Belize (SEA): Arreini Palacio

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF): Nicanor Requena (remote access)

Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI): Stuart Fulton and Jacobo Caamal

Coral Reef Alliance in Honduras (CORAL): Jenny Myton and Antonella Rivera

Rotary International: Dolores de Jesus Cabnal



Group photo of the participants of the meeting
Photo: Lucy Calderón/MAR Fund


Project Budget evaluation
Photo: Lucy Calderón/MAR Fund

Project discussion within the core participants

Effective communications

“Connect to the planet: no more plastics in nature” was the 2019 Earth Hour’s theme. To create a connection with the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR), MAR Fund participated in the celebration with the performance of a starfish that motivated the attendees to take a photo in a reef frame and connect with the MAR.


The MAR Fund’s starfish and the WWF’s Panda
Photo: Lucy Calderón

In Guatemala City, the activity was organized by WWF Mesoamerica, and during the symbolic moment of turning the lights off, the WWF’s director, Andreas Lehnhoff urged the public to reduce the use of disposable plastics, while emphasizing that every climate action counts towards having a world #withoutpollution.


People attended the Earth Hour and accepted to take a picture in the reef frame.
To read the complete story and watch more pictures click

The MAR Day was celebrated on March 10. To promote the celebration we did some postcards like this one.


In Guatemala and El Salvador some media that received our press release on the MAR Day 2019, published articles that raised awareness about the importance of the MAR and its threats.


Click the link to the article of El Periódico, Guatemala:


Click the link to the article of Diario de Centro América:


Click the link to the article of Diario Equilibrium, El Salvador:


During the 5th Technical Committee meeting of the Reef Rescue Initiative,  last November 2018, MAR Fund also received the support of the media. The Guatemalan TV channel Guatevisión published a piece about the issue.


On May 2018, some days after the launch of the book: Escrito con Tinta Azul. Historias de Conservación del Sistema Arrecifal Mesoamericano, by the Mexican writer Adriana Navarro, the TV program Sin Reservas of Guatevisión published the following news:


Since February, 2018, it was launched the MAR News section on the MAR Fund’s website. Here are published outstanding stories on the MAR, as well as on the Small Grants Project empowered by MAR Fund in the MAR region.


You can check the latest Mar News in the carrousel that is on the main page of our website:


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:


On July 2, 2018  to celebrate the International Year of the Reef 2018 (IYOR 2018) and to let more people know, appreciate and contribute to conserving the Mesoamerican Reef, the MAR Fund announced its photography contest Life in the MAR, aimed at adults living in communities in the four countries of the Mesoamerican Reef – Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.


MAR Fund encouraged participants to share magnificent photographs that depicted how the MAR sustains the life of people, animals and plants living in it or its surroundings.


Then, the submission deadline was extended to September 14, and thirty-four photographs were submitted. A jury selected the 13 finalists that were included in the MAR Fund 2019 calendar.


You can download the calendar visiting this link:


You can learn more about the winners visiting this link:


Every Friday, during 2018, MAR Fund published on its social media networks, a snapshot on the IYOR 2018. The main objective was to raise awareness about the importance of the MAR, its threats and the best ways to help it to be resilient.

Here are some examples:




The Mesoamerican Reef Fund published the book Written with blue ink. Stories of conservation of the Mesoamerican Reef, by the Mexican writer Adriana Navarro.


Photo: Julieta Ordóñez


The book compiles stories narrated by different people who participated in and benefited from Phase I of the Project Conservation of Marine Resources in Central America supported by the German Financial Cooperation through KfW. To do this, Adriana visited the four protected areas targeted by the project: Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Protection Area, in Mexico; Port Honduras Marine Reserve, in Belize; Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, in Guatemala; and Sandy Bay West End Special Protection Zone, in Honduras. The objective of the project was to contribute to the conservation of the ecological functions of the Mesoamerican Reef by consolidating the selected coastal and marine protected areas and ensuring the use of its marine-coastal resources in the medium term.


To learn more about the publication click here:

Contact us if you need additional information