Progress in each protected area.
Progress in each protected area.
The construction of the second access guard control house in Calderas Barlovento community was completed. The group of community guardians perform two visits per month for control and surveillance and, in addition, for the general cleaning of the area.
During the first semester of 2019 and with matching funds, 17 land patrols and 20 aquatic patrols were implemented. These activities were developed in coordination with the Attorney General’s Office for Environmental Protection (PPA, by its acronym in Spanish), the Public Security Secretariat and the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (SSP and CONAPESCA, by their acronyms in Spanish, respectively), the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA, by its acronym in Spanish). Thirty-three crab traps were confiscated, one mangrove deforestation for retaining wall construction was denounced achieving the total closure of the affected site, and looting of stone was also denounced.
Three training courses were developed to strengthen the biological monitoring, surveillance and protected area management skills of IBANQROO staff. One of the courses was “Training and implementation of the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) software as a tool for strengthening control, surveillance and monitoring in the state protected areas of Quintana Roo. The purpose is to ensure that all state areas use SMART in their daily control and surveillance activities. The training was conducted by Julio Maaz, from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Belize.
IBANQROO was part of the 8th Connectivity Exercise for the Mesoamerican Reef (ECOME), implemented in March. Eighteen collectors distributed in nine sites were monitored. Seven samples of fish larvae representing three families were collected and the collected data will be integrated into a regional report.
IBANQROO and El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) finished the water quality monitoring activities for the Project. As a result, a final report of the water quality that includes the two years of monitoring (2017-2018) in the four main bodies of water (Chetumal Bay, Laguna Guerrero, Chile Verde and Salada) was prepared. For the entire area, water quality improved from 2017 to 2018, mainly due to a decrease in the concentration of nitrates and ammonium. However, the increase in the concentration of phosphates and chlorophyll a, kept the body of water in a regular condition and a mesotrophic state.
Joint activities such as water quality monitoring, control and surveillance patrols and coordination meetings continue between IBANQROO and Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD) in Belize.
The Project supported the legal organization of three new community groups in the reserve. Two cooperatives (Tuunich-Há Barlovento and Yáalcab-Há) and a civil society (Xi’ipal Kana’an – Young people for the conservation and sustainable use of the Caribbean biodiversity). During this process, the community members received different trainings to adequately understand the meaning of a legal constitution and the commitments assumed with it.
During 2019, 535 national and international visitors were attended at the Mammal Rehabilitation Center (CARMA, by its acronym in Spanish), providing to them information about the reserve, its importance and benefits, flora and fauna of the protected area and the history of “Daniel” the manatee. At the same time, the reserve staff visited the schools of the region to show the students, the environmental education material designed for them.
With matching funds, the State Council for the management of natural protected areas of the state of Quintana Roo was installed in 2019. This Council will strengthen the participation of the different sectors in the management of the natural protected areas and contribute to their conservation.
Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD), acquired the material for the making and installation of marker buoys in the protected area.
As part of the research and monitoring program, SACD developed the fish catch assessments of commercial important species, by identifying important spawning and recruitment areas within CBWS through the gathering of data on ichthyoplankton (suspended fish eggs and larvae), and fish post-larvae (in settlement and recruitment phase).
As part of SACD´s communication strategy and to be able to share results with communities and partner organizations, SACD finalized and printed their annual report for 2017 and 2018.
As part of the alternative economic activities compatible with the environment, SACD presented three proposals: one for a Chunox fisher family focused on climate smart agriculture, one for the Sarteneja Pesca Tours Beach Trap Association focused in promoting ecotourism and one to reactivate the Water Taxi Services with the Sarteneja Tour Guide Association. The three projects were approved and feasibility studies and business plans were developed.
As part of the education and outreach program, SACD developed the Fihser´s Fair as part of their environmental education campaigns focusing on environmental awareness. SACD estimated a participation of more than 500 people from the three major stakeholder communities of CBWS (Chunox, Copper Bank and Sarteneja).
To involve the Sarteneja youth in the care of the area and as part of SACD´s Internship Program, two interns were contracted for three months with formal description of responsibilities, one directly supporting the Research and Monitoring Program and the other directly supporting the Education and Outreach Program.
As part of the investment in infrastructure, BFD, with support from MCCAP, developed a meeting with interested bidders for the containment and reclamation works. The meeting consisted in a visit to the area and now the bidders know where the works would be developed and understand the documentation and information needed to apply.
Surveillance and enforcement activities continue to be carried out effectively with support from the Conservation and Compliance Unit (CCU) of the Fisheries Department. In this period a total of 133 patrols where carried, resulting in three charges for possession of undersize conch.
As part of Belize Fisheries Department (BFD) monitoring and evaluation systems, they developed sea cucumber surveys, preliminary results of this survey show low densities which are not conducive to be harvested commercially.
The Management Plan consultancy continues and the consultancy team has carried out a series of meetings and workshops for the creation of the plan. Up to the date the consultants have delivered the diagnostic and the management considerations components. Next steps are for them to deliver the operational component, regulatory and zoning component, monitoring and evaluation component and the wetlands Ramsar factsheet, for review.
The consortium Fundación para el Eco Desarrollo y la Conservación – Asociación Amantes de la Tierra (FUNDAECO-AAT) continues developing their control and surveillance program, with support from Government Institutions (CONAP, the Directorate of Nature Protection (DIPRONA), the Caribbean Naval Command (CONACAR), the Navy Infantry Brigade (BIM)). In this period a total of 16 patrols, 13 land patrols and three marine were carried out. No illicit activity was reported in land patrols and in the marine patrols, one shrimp gillnet, two trawl nets and two buckets with shrimp were confiscated during closed season.
As part of the research and monitoring program, Fundaeco hired a consultant to develop the reef health monitoring in the buffer zone of the protected area using AGRRA methodology. The main results show that that the Foudara reef, due to its low coral cover (< 10%) and low herbivores and commercial fish biomass, is in a critical state of health, this being the lowest qualification of this methodology. However, during the last two monitoring exercises (2015-2016 and 2018-2019) there has been an increase of 1% (from 7% to 8%) in coral cover, which indicates that the site has a potential for recovery. The information contributes to the data published by Healthy Reefs Initiative in their report cards.
As follow up to the productive activities supported, the Committee at Barra Cocolí has been stablished as a tourism Committee Asociación de Autogestión Turística Barra Cocolí (AUTBAC) and a restaurant infrastructure has been completed and the necessary equipment acquired.
As part of the environmental education program, FUNDAECO has engaged approximately 1,250 students and teachers from the protected area and urban area of Livingston, who have learned about the importance of marine ecosystems and natural resources conservation.
The cacao plantations implemented in Plan Grande Tatín y Plan Grande Quehueche have been completed and the plant plots appear to be healthy. Technical assistance is still being provided by the Consortium forestry technician.
BICA – Utila installed six signage signs at strategic points of the island (municipal dock, airport and visitor center), including two signs within the protected area and one in Los Cayitos (Little islands of fishermen villages near Utila main island).
In coordination with the Forest Conservation Institute (ICF, by its Spanish acronym), BICA-Utila supported the socialization activities related to the updating of the Management Plan for the Bay Island National Marine Park. Three meetings were held in Utila and two in Guanaja, in which community members and local authorities participated.
The control and surveillance program continue, and 69 marine patrols were carried out with the support of the Honduran Navy. Because of the patrols, two complaints were filed for the illegal construction of piers. At the same time, a meeting was held among the Head of Municipal Justice, a Municipal Police Officer, BICA-Utila staff (Executive Director and Park ranger Coordinator) and the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) representative for Utila, to establish collaboration mechanisms that strengthen the Control and Surveillance Program.
BICA-Utila was part of the 8th Connectivity Exercise for the Mesoamerican Reef (ECOME), implemented in March. Seventeen persons between volunteers and staff participated, and 33 samples of fish larvae representing the families of Apogonidae, Tetraodontidae and Lutjanidae were collected.
The water quality-monitoring program continues to be implemented by BICA-Utila staff and the Reef Leaders. Ten sites were monitored each month analyzing bacteriological and physicochemical parameters. The respective report is under development with the collaboration of BICA-Roatan.
To prepare the BICA-Utila Visitor Center´s interpretative room, materials for exhumation of specimens, wooden display cabinets for the exhibition and informational materials such as banners were quoted and acquired. The exhumation and assembly of specimens was possible thanks to the support and advice of the Natural History Museum of Honduras, which in turn trained a Reef Leader in the assembly process.
With the support of CORAL, BICA-Utila hired a consultant to promote the self-sustainability of the organization, create the “BICA–UTILA” brand, and strengthen the management of social networks. At the same time, with the support of the Project, the purchase of products for the eco-shop was possible and all the staff participates in the promotion and sale of these products directly in the eco-shop or in bazaars that occur on the island. BICA-Utila continues with the sale of paper cups and the recycling of glass bottles.
On July 24, the event to socialize the results of the Project and its closure was held at BICA-Utila visitor center. Representatives from the Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD-DiBio), the Municipality of Utila and Fundación Biosfera, as well as collaborating partners such as CORAL, BICA-Roatan, Kanahau, ICF, UNAH-CURLA, DIGEPESCA, RMP and HRI, attended the event. At the same time, some sites of the island where BICA-Utila implemented the project activities were visited.
BICA–Utila, together with the members of the National Committee for the Lionfish, held meetings to review and move forward with the activities of its action plan:
A Lionfish tasting was held at the National Biodiversity Congress in La Ceiba, Honduras, on June 13, to promote the consumption of the species. The Islander Restobar supported the elaboration of the dishes for this event.
A presentation to publicize the efforts made by the organization in relation to the control of the species, its ecology and impact on the ecosystem was made to participants of the National Biodiversity Congress and students of Ecotourism from UNAH-CURLA.
BICA-Utila continues with its environmental education activities at school centers of Utila town and Los Cayitos. Topics such as endangered species, coral reefs, endemic species, recycling and reusing, sea turtles, among others, were developed. In the Blue Classroom, Fridays are used to promote the Reading Club and watch documentaries with an environmental theme.
An approach was achieved with the Coordinator of the Solid Waste Department of the General Directorate of Environment (DGA, by its acronym in Spanish) who expressed his interest in supporting the issue of solid waste management in Utila. As a result, in the week of July 15-19, a training was conducted on solid waste characterization, aimed at staff of the municipality and other organizations on the island. In addition, participants were trained in knowing the existing legal framework for the proper management of solid waste. Both activities were carried out with support from the Solid Waste Department and the environmental lawyer Laura Palmese from the Environmental Law Alliance Wolrdwide (ELAW).
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.
Building compliance for marine resources management at Lighthouse Reef Atoll (MA Area 7), through increased surveillance, enforcement and engaging resource users in the decision making process.
BAS worked with the Belize Fisheries Department to vet applications for Managed Access license for Lighthouse Reef Atoll (Managed Access Area 7). The vetting process was carried out during a meeting which saw the participation of fishers from Belize City, Chunox, and Copper Bank, along with representatives from the Belize Fisheries Department, BAS, and Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association. Twenty two applications were reviewed of which only six new fishing licenses were approved. During this reporting period, BAS maintained its enforcement presence within the protected area, by working with the Belize Coast Guard to conduct a number of joint operations patrols; this included 238 joint patrols within managed access area 7; 60 joint patrols throughout the entire Lighthouse Reef Atoll; and 3 joint operations and at Spawning Aggregation sites with the marine reserve. During these patrols BAS encountered and boarded with a total of 131 fishing vessels, engaging with a total of 340 fishers.
Additionally, BAS has also maintained its boat-to-boat session. During those sessions the BAS team engaged 72 fishers around the review of Managed Access catch log books, and Fisheries Regulation, answering any questions fishers may have, and training some fishers (approximately 41) in the use of scales and caliper for enhanced fishers dependent data collection. Finally, in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), BAS has created at data model designed for recording Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE) data for lobster and conch, using the spatial monitoring and recording tool (SMART) platform. The organization purchased the devices necessary for upload of the SMART app, and since June 2019, has provided training to a small group of fishers (approximately 14 fishing vessels) on the use/piloting of the new SMART app for recording catch data.
Supporting FoH’s reef restoration efforts at new and existing sites, while sustaining the monitoring of coral coverage by analyzing photo-mosaic data at key sites.
During the life of this project FoH out planted 21,455 corals at its four target sites in southern Belize, namely Laughing Bird Caye National Park (LBCNP), South Silk Cayes, Moho Caye and False Caye. According to FoH, while the target of out planting 5,000 corals at each site was not met at South Silk Cayes—given an emphasis on direct outplanting of A. palmata micro-fragments versus the faster growing, nursery-reared A. cervicornis—the overall total target numbers were achieved.
FoH has been using photo-mosaics coupled with Coral Point Count software (CPCe) to measure changes in coral cover over time on six measured plots at LBCNP (2014-2018) and three measured plots at Moho Caye (2015-December 2017). According to FoH, notable findings has been at Launghing Bird Caye National Park (LBCNP), where five of the six plots now have 30->50% live coral cover from a baseline of < 6 %, and at Moho Caye (control unprotected site), where two of the three plots have tripled in coral cover in two years. On all but two of the nine measured plots coral cover has increased by >10%, with some sites increasing by as much as 15-20% annularly, without adding any additional corals. FoH further asserts that the two sites that did not show measurable increases were those hardest hit by Hurricane Earl in August 2016. However, all sites were unaffected by the extreme bleaching event in 2017, demonstrating thermal tolerance.
FoH also analyzed assemblages were assessed by visual census. The protocol design was meant to rigorously track and interpret changes in fish abundance and species composition over time in association with coral replenishment activities. According to FoH fish biomass values observed at LBCNP and on naturally regenerated cayes were high (>100g/m2), with the presence of large schools of blue tang, chub, and many large parrot fishes suggesting benefits of site protection within the areas where the replenished plots were placed at LBCNP.
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.
Through this initiative, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has focused on increasing knowledge and promoting positive changes in the attitudes and behaviors of members of Belize’s fishing community. More specifically, Season 3 of the radio drama Punta Fuego and its complementary call-in show, Talking Fuego, aired 20 episodes. An impact survey to assess accomplishment of its knowledge, attitude, and behavior (KAB) goals revealed that listenership for Punta Fuego remained constant over the three seasons, while listenership for Talking Fuego increased notably during Season 3. Additionally, although listeners demonstrated an increase in knowledge regarding the benefits of replenishment zones (RZs) and positive behaviors, such as responsible fishing practices; surprisingly, the percentage of fishers who agreed that RZs should be expanded (in number and size), as well as those who believed there were benefits associated with RZ expansion had decreased over time.
To highlight the importance of MPA’s to Belize’s Conch Fishery, WCS also oversaw the development of a two-part news segment, “Conch Season in Danger of Premature Closing,” aired on News 5. The story covered the plight of the queen conch fishery within the Caribbean region. The central theme discussed in the segment was the lack of enforcement in Belize’s waters due to under-investment in enforcement agencies and the need for addressing illegal trans-boundary fishing. Through its Community mobilization campaign, WCS also conducted a boat to boat activity with fishers at GRMR to discuss issues related to MPA compliance, safety at sea and safety measures to reduce fishers’ vulnerability to criminals, and the promotion of Punta Fuego and Talking Fuego. While their community mobilization campaigns in Sarteneja, Belize City, Dangriga and Hopkins, served as a means to engage fishers in discussions regarding MPA compliance; safety at sea and safety measures to reduce fishers’ vulnerability to criminals; and the promotion of Punta Fuego and Talking Fuego.
In June 2019 WCS partnered with MCCAP to host the third annual Women in Fisheries Forum (WIFF). This year forum themed “Gender and the Ocean,” focused on climate change and its impact on the ocean and livelihoods. Hosted at Pelican Beach Resort in the beautiful fishing community of Dangriga, the forum saw the participation of over 35 women from 11 marine and inland fishing communities.
Understanding the resilience potential of targeted Marine Protected Areas in Belize, through a “snapshot” resilience assessment.
Over this reporting period, WWF concentrated its efforts on key interventions for advancing its goals under this project. The organization hosted a climate risk analysis workshop that allowed for the collecting of critical information such as priority climate change impacts and future risks to communities and ecosystem services; and benefits of ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) to support climate and ecosystem services analysis to guide adaptation efforts. While WWF’s efforts under this project is assisting in the carrying out of a snapshot economic impact assessment, during this session key representatives from the targeted MPAs were trained in the use of an economic impact tool so that they could in turn carry out economic impact assessments for their respective MPAs.
In collaboration with the University of Belize’s Environmental Research Institute, and researchers from ECOSUR/ERIS, WWF also hosted a remote sensing training workshop to train partners, including MPA staff, in capturing information using remote sensing imagery, primarily MODIS, to create SST and chlorophyll maps. According to WWF, this information is useful in its efforts to analyze physicochemical indicators (including temperature and nutrients) and the impact they have on reef ecosystems, including within MPAs as a component of this project. WWF also worked with targeted MPA managers (SEA, Hol Chan, TIDE, and SACD), APAMO and CZMAI to organize and execute a total of 5 stakeholder workshops in San Pedro, Placencia, Punta Gorda Town, Dangriga, and Corozal Town, to better understand livelihood threats, risk and vulnerabilities, and level of dependency on MPAs. While the climate and ecosystem risk analyses to inform the resilience assessment are still underway, WWF expects to share draft results with key stakeholders by convening a validation workshop later this year.
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.
On May 18th, Oceana organized community events across Belize as part of the annual Hands Across the Sands event. Over two hundred individuals came together from across the country to join hands on beaches, across bridges, along seawalls, and other public areas to celebrate and commemorate the people and government of Belize’s bold stand in effecting offshore oil moratorium.
Additionally, Oceana worked with a number of partners to advance its efforts at addressing the issue of destructive fishing gear, with notable achievements. To strengthen incentives for responsible fishing practices, Oceana has been working with the International Development Bank (IDB) to develop a digital marketplace that would connect licensed fisherfolk with potential buyers via a smart phone app. According to Oceana, this marketplace would include digital advertising opportunities for fishers and buyers who participate in the Fish Right Eat Right (FRER) Program, being lead jointly by Oceana and other partners, and have voluntarily committed to abide by best practices for seafood harvesting and consumption. More broadly, Oceana has also garnered support via an online platform of fishers, tourism allies, restaurateurs, community leaders, and other members of the public for a ban on gillnets and other destructive fishing gear.
Addressing the need for improved management effectiveness, as identified and prioritized through site and systems level management planning for the Southern Belize Reef Complex.
Project Progress: While SEA has experienced some delay in project implementation owing to impediments in the importation of equipment for the installation of demarcation buoys around Laughing Bird Caye National Park (LBCNP), and Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve (GSSCMR), the organization continues to maintain its presence at these sites, having conducted 180 patrols at the above mentioned sites. The organization also continues to engage in educational outreach activities both in schools and within the community.
Using sound science and the integration of stakeholder data collection systems, to recommend and socialize new size limits for key commercial fisheries species in Belize.
Throughout this reporting period, WCS has continued its work focused on involving members of fishing communities in the management of Belize’s small-scale fishing sector. Through the community landings data collection initiative, WCS continues to work with community members, fishers, and vendors, in conducting a national level analysis of marine product catch and community availability through June 2019. WCS conducted a 3-month pilot study to assist in the identification of a solution that would allow for the tracking of fishing vessels, as well as, the digital recording of fishers’ catch data. According to WCS, while the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) is not a suitable solution for the tracking of vessels given unreliable cellular connectivity across Belize’s fishing areas, it is useful for documenting fishers’ catch data. A total of 30 mobile devices equipped with SMART Connect and the Cyber Tracker software were distributed by WCS to 30 boat captains. A detailed analysis of the data collected will be provided at the end of this project.
Additionally, WCS continues to advance its efforts in the national roll-out of the Fish Right Eat Right (FRER) initiative. So as to sustain and increase buy-in for the FRER initiative among the 21 certified restaurateurs, return visits were conducted in Punta Gorda, Placencia, Hopkins, Dangriga, San Pedro, and Belize City. Introductory visits were made to Cayo, Corozal and Orange Walk. A list of best practices and fisheries regulations has also been presented to new restaurants in Cayo and the Belize district.
Building on BAS’ existing environmental education and community outreach program activities specifically the youth focused Reef Protector Program(RPP).
Project Progress: In May 2019 BAS recruited 16 youths from St. Viator High School in the northern village of Chunox to its Reef Protector’s Program. BAS also conducted two meetings with RPP participants. The first meeting hosted on June 22nd was an inaugural meeting with parents and participants of the program hosted to discuss program objectives and calendar of event; while the second meeting the first in a series of eight sessions was one to set building blocks in enhancing knowledge in marine conservation amounts the participants—with meeting topics that included the importance of MPAs, plastic pollution (marine litter), its impacts on marine resources, and the national single-use plastics phase-out. From July 3rd- 5th BAS also conducted its first of three planned field visits for its Reef Protectors. This first trip allowed 15 participants and 3 parents the opportunity to visit Half Moon Caye and Blue Hole Natural Monument. Topics covered during this field trip included introduction to snorkeling, coral and fish identification, turtle nest monitoring and beach morphology, introductory bird identification and observation, and marine protected areas and their social and economic importance.
In working to create awareness on phasing out of single use plastics and Styrofoam, in August 2019, BAS hosted two meetings targeting teachers from primary schools in Copper Bank and Chunox Villages to sensitize teachers about the project. The meeting saw the participation on 9 teachers who all welcomed the initiative and expressed their interest and commitment to supporting BAS’s the education activities. Finally, on July 28th and August 29th respectively, BAS hosted a Community Share Time and a Food Vender’s Workshop in the villages of Chunox and Copper Bank. The community event hosted under the theme “Phasing-out Single-use Plastics” saw a total of 40 participants. While the Food Vender’s workshop which saw a total of 18 participants, covered topics on plastic pollution, and its impacts on health and the environment, where workshop attendees participated in an engaging activity called “discovering garbage in your community”, and explored solutions and alternatives to single-use plastics for small business, individuals and communities.
Inspiring and motivating the next generation of conservation leaders in Belize through youth engagement.
Project Progress: To date, EPI has successfully delivered three four-day field based learning courses to two high schools in southern Belize. In collaboration with the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE), EPI has engaged the Toledo Community College in Punta Gorda Town, and Agriculture and Natural Resources Institute (ANRI) in the Stann Creek District. The total number of participants on these courses was as follows: 33 from Toledo Community College including 29 students and 4 teachers; and 12 from ANRI, including 10 students and 2 teachers. Plans are also currently being drafted by EPI for the Youth Conservation Leadership Symposium to be held in November 2019.
Detecting the recovery of depleted populations of marine megafauna at the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve, using long-term standardized monitoring methods.
Project Progress: MarAlliance is in the inception phase of this grant and has purchased some of the equipment (radios, supplies, fishing gears) needed to conduct its field work in the first quarter of 2020. The organization has also secured the services of several fishers/boats and has started to arrange for the accommodations on the atoll for its field expedition—this is in line with previous establish timelines for collection of data.
Protecting Belize’s Antillean manatee population by gathering scientific data educating the public, and implementing conservation activities.
Project Progress: Sea to Shore Alliance has conducted its manatee captures and health assessment throughout in the Placencia Lagoon. During this activity, three captured individuals was equipped with satellite transmitters to gather further information and data on manatee travel corridors, feeding areas, habitat use and response to human disturbance.
The organization also conducted a tour guide workshop engaging 35 guides from Seine Bight were trained in manatee conservation, appropriate manatee-viewing procedures, and safety on the water in order to reduce negative impact to manatees through watercraft collisions. This training was hosted in collaboration with key partners including the Forest Department, and the Belize Tourism Board. Additionally, Sea to Shore Alliance continues in its efforts at conducting weekly patrols with the Belize Port Authority in Belize City to ensure boaters compliance with manatee safety rules and its monthly joint patrols with the Southern Environmental Association.
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.
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.
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:
Progress to date:
ECOME 7 developed from October 6 – 16, 2018 (new moon).
8 MPAs participated in the exercise: 1) Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Protected Area and 2) Arrecifes de Xcalak National Park, in México; 3) Hol Chan Marine Reserve and 4) Port Honduras Marine Reserve, in Belize; 5) Río Sarstún Multiple Use Area and 6) Punta Manabique Wildlife Refuge in Guatemala; 7) Turtle Harbor-Rock Harbour Special Marine Protection Zone and 8) Sandy Bay West End Special Marine Protection Zone in Honduras.
Three protected areas joined the exercise without funding from the small grant: a) Santuario del Manati State Reserve, b) Isla Contoy National Park and c) Arrecifes de Puerto Morelos National Park, Quintana Roo.
For ECOME 7, 359 fish post larvae were captured and the identification resulted in 22 different families of fish and 35 genera. Some data are still under revision, however on average, 35.9 ± 29.51 organisms per MPA were collected.
ECOME 8 developed from March 2 – 10,2019 (new moon).
For this exercise only 7 MPAs joined, since Port Honduras Marine Reserve, in Belize, could not participate. Moreover, two protected areas joined the exercise without funding from the small grant: a) Santuario del Manatí State Reserve and, b) Isla Contoy National Park.
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:
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:
Innovative financial mechanisms, such as parametric insurance for reefs, can contribute to rapid post-event reef restoration and recovery. As an integral part of the RRI program, MAR Fund is working in collaboration with Willis Tower Watson (WTW), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the International Coral Reef Initiative/UN Small Grant Programme and other partners in the region, to design and implement a parametric insurance model for reefs in at least 7 sites of the MAR Region. This innovative financial mechanism will provide a post-event response framework for: i) the coastal communities dependent on the MAR, and ii) the MAR itself.
As part of the parametric insurance model for reef in the MAR, the following activities have been completed.
MAR Fund is coordinating with TNC to develop and implement Emergency Response actions in the four countries of the Region. The base for this activity is the Emergency Response Protocol that was developed by TNC for Quintana Roo, Mexico, and adopted by MAR Fund to be replicated in the other MAR countries. This instrument includes the profile of the response brigades and the actions required to secure rapid reef recovery at each of the sites of the insurance model.
Accordingly, in April and May, in Guatemala, Honduras and Belize, technical meetings were held to socialize the document: Post-Storm Immediate Response Protocol in case of damages to reefs caused by hurricanes.
In Guatemala, the result of the meeting was that MAR Fund and CONAP will sign a collaboration agreement (MoU) to strengthen capacities in reef restoration and emergency response actions in the Caribbean of Guatemala. In addition, it was agreed that once the Agreement is signed, a follow up meeting would be held in Izabal to build the Emergency Response Coordinating Committee.
In Honduras, two meetings were held: one in Roatan and the other in Tegucigalpa. The second one, called “Innovative solutions for the coastal marine resources resilience in the MAR region” aimed to present to the national authorities of Honduras the following topics:
Then, in April in Tegucigalpa it carried out the meeting.
In May, in Belize city, it was conducted the meeting, Building Emergency Response Capacities Post-hurricane in Belize. During the meeting it was possible to:
Socialize the parametric insurance project in the MAR, as innovative financial mechanisms for emergency response and reef restoration.
MAR Fund has prepared a regional and by-country analysis of the existing regulatory framework and public policy, and existence (or lack) of financing mechanisms for reef restoration.
The legal and policy analysis include:
Among the lessons learned from the legal and policy analysis it is included, that it is essential to strengthen the continuous communication between and among key actors in the MAR region. Reef conservation efforts can have greater impacts when there are platforms that enhances communication and collaboration at the local regional level.
In 2019, two Small Grants have been formalized for the following projects:
Furthermore, advances of the Small Grants approved in 2018 include:
In June, 2019, a second part of the exchange was conducted among practitioners of Mexico and Belize. The group visited various reef sites and nurseries including the largest, densest Acropora palmata thicket in the region, called “Limones” and replenished sites near Isla Mujeres. Reef sites visited, included: Puerto Morelos National Park, Cozumel National Park, Akumal, and Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve. Special experts in the visit included Dra. Iliana Baums from Pennsylvania State University and Dr. Art Gleason from the University of Miami.
As a result of the exchange visits, a collaboration between Dr. Baums, Dr. Gleason and Fragments of Hope will be possible in light of an application for a grant to examine phenotypic (morphological and ecological characteristics) correlations with genetics using high -resolution photo-mosaics. Also, a free webinar on photo-mosaics techniques took place on 25 July 2019 hosted by the Coral Restoration Coalition (CRC) and Reef Resilience Network (TNC) with over 130 participants. Dr. Gleason was one of the expert panelists, and Lisa Carne (Fragments of Hope) was one of the panelists presenting results from Belize as a case study. Furthermore, new collaborations were made with Claudia Padilla from INAPESCA, and relations were strengthened with Dr. Gleason, Dr. Baums and UNAM.
In March 2019, a dissemination talk about the project was held during the conference “Towards a Sustainable Use of the Oceans and its Forms of Life” The conference was organized by the Ministry of Environment of Quintana Roo. Oceanus also participated in the National Reef Congress in Manzanillo, Colima, to share experiences and learn about current research in coral reefs and restoration in Mexico. As a result, Oceanus was invited to give a talk about the project and share experiences and techniques of restoration to a group of service providers, divers and academics from Manzanillo.
MAR Fund has an alliance with Willis Towers Watson (WTW), through their Global Ecosystem Resilience Facility, to collaborate on the design of the parametric insurance. Furthermore, MAR Fund has also initiated conversations with Coordination Center for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America (CEPREDENAC) in order to exchange GIS information and to collaborate formally in the implementation of emergency response capacities in three of the four countries of the MAR (Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras).
On May 27 and 28, the Technical Supervisory Committee conducted its Sixth ordinary meeting. The participants to the meeting included:
The main topics discussed included:
The Committee will reconvene again in November, 2019 in Guatemala, city.
MAR Fund se une a la primera Cumbre de Liderazgo Juvenil por las 4Rs
La majestuosidad del arrecife mesoamericano continúa sorprendiendo a sus espectadores
Pescadores de Barra Cocolí inauguran proyecto de turismo comunitario
El grupo de cocina: Mujeres de El Quetzalito, un gran aliado para incentivar el consumo del pez león
Desarrollarán estrategia para la conservación y restauración del mangle en el arrecife mesoamericano
Únete a la Red Mesoamericana de Manglares y Pastos Marinos
La Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Rescate de Arrecifes continúa avanzando
Honduras será sede de tres importantes eventos en favor de la naturaleza
You can check the latest Mar News in the carrousel that is on the main page of our website: https://marfund.org/en/
Every Wednesday, since July 2018, it is published on our social media networks, a snapshot of the main impacts of the Conservation of Marine Resources in Central America Project empowered by MAR Fund. Look at the example below: