Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef

Fishermen designing management strategies
Fishermen designing management strategies

After a two-phase project of participatory design of fish refuges and fisheries co-management areas in the Río Sarstún Multiple Use Area in Guatemala, the fishermen have achieved very important results such as:

  • A research protocol was designed to establish the baseline for commercial fish species
  • Five monitoring exercises developed inside and outside the proposed refuges
  • Two workshops organized for the fishing communities of San Juan, Cocolí and Barra Sarstún to determine:

                 - Three conservation targets for the two fish refuges: mangroves, sea grass beds and commercial fish species

                 - Most relevant threats for these targets: climate change, pollution by agrochemicals, habitat loss and overfishing

                 - Strategies for conservation and good management of the fish refuges design:               

                             * Environmental education

                             * Constant biological monitoring

                             * Strengthening control and surveillance within the fish refuges through community participation

                             * Identification of alternative income

  • Co-management agreement draft for the fish refuges in Barra Sarstún / Laguna Grande and Cocolí were completed and sent to hte National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP)
  • A training plan on the AGRRA methodology was designed for the monitoring of corals and different species of fish to further capacity building of the fishers trained in scuba in 2013
  • Materials were purchased for the San Juan collection center, including two stainless steel tables and two sets of professional knives. 

We are very confident that these fishing communities will continue to grow their capacities and will have very productive fish refuges.

We will let you know about their progress!

Equippment purchased for the collection center
Equippment purchased for the collection center

From July 31 to August 1st, the Fifth Tri National Fishermen Forum from the Gulf of Honduras was held in Punta Gorda, Belize.  It was organized by the Tri National Alliance for the Conservation of the Gulf of Honduras - TRIGOH -.

The main objective of the forum was to strengthen the network of fish refuges in the Gulf.

A total of 79 persons among fishermen, staff from NGOs and Fisheries and Protected Areas authorities from the three countries (Belize, Guatemala and Honduras) participated in the forum.  The most represented delegation was the one from Guatemala, folllowed by Belize and then Honduras. After evaluating the representation by sector, the fishers were the highest represented with 38 persons, follwed by the NGOs and the authorities with 31 and 10, respectively. Fisherwomen were also represented.

Among the results obtained during the forum are:

  • Socialization of the research protocol for establishing the baseline of fish refuges within the Gulf of Honduras and fishermen participation in its implementation.
  • Ellaboration of the map of the network of fish refuges and identifying its geographical gap

Eleven new potential sites were identified within the Gulf of Honduras as fish refuges as follows: six sites in Belize: 1 in Gladen Spit, 4 in Sapodilla Cayes and 1 in Port Honduras. In Honduras, the five sites identified were: Tulian, Barra de Chamalecon Boratex, Capiro, Los Micos and Peñón de Punta Isopo.

The representatives from the Fisheries and Protected Areas authorities committed to support the fish refuges initiatives among the three countries in order to consolidate the Network.

We will keep you posted of every progress TRIGOH has!

During the months of May and June, 2014, the national fishermen fora in each of the three countries of the Gulf of Honduras were held.

Under the coordination of the Tri national Alliance for the development of the Gulf of Honduras -TRIGOH-, fishermen associations and authorities spent a day discussing fisheries issues.  The main topic of each of the meetings was the establishment of fish refuges in order to consolidate the Fishe Refuges Network.

The organized fishermen have given huge steps towards co-management in only one year.  Most of them learned about the process of establishing fish refuges during the last tri national fishermen forum when Mexican fishermen shared their experiences. 

The results of each of the fora will be discussed during the Tri National Fishermen Forum that willl be held in Punta Gorda, Belize on July 31.

We will keep you posted of the interesting outcomes and results from the tri national forum, as these will again be thanks to your collaboration and support.

The MAR Fund Team

After the successfull first phase of the fisheries co-management project developed by the NGO Cuerpos de Conservación de Omoa in the Cuyamel-Omoa National Park, in Honduras during 2013, the MAR Fund approved a second phase for the project.

The objectives for this second phase are:

  • Strengthen the enforcement of fishing regulations in the marine area of the Cuyamel-Omoa National Park
  • Formally establish the 1 Ha fisheries recovery site and develop its action plan
  • Provide economic alternatives to local fishing communities

This project will secure the consolidation of the proposed fish recovery site.

This initiative is part of a Gulf of Honduras scale strategy that intends to develop a fish restoration sites network among coastal and marine protected areas of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

We will keep you posted on any progress the proposed site has regarding its declaration as a formal restoration site.

Scuba diving certified fishers
Scuba diving certified fishers

The first initiative of fisheries recovery sites in the Río Sarstún Multiple Use Area in Guatemala has had a very good acceptance from the fishers, authorities and private sector. It also has reached important previous results.

A research protocol to establish the baseline of the proposed fisheries recovery sites was designed and will shortly be implemented by FUNDAECO (the NGO that co-administrates the protected area) jointly with the fishers and authorities

Also, with the support of Water Quest dive shop, seven fishers were trained and certified in scuba diving.  After this training, the first workshop on biological monitoring techniques was held and the seven certified fishers participated.  It is expected that, after the project concludes, they will continue with the monitoring of their fishing resources.

A recognition visit was made to potential fisheries recovery sites within the PA and prioritize these according to their current ecological status.
We are also supporting a RARE initiative that FUNDAECO began in the King Fish reef siteThis is a three coral reef patches area outside the PA. A technical study on the biologica relevance was previously developed and submited to the Research Department of the Fisheries Authority. As the Research Department has approved the technical study, we will also support the next phase: the follow-up meetings with the Legal Department of the Fisheries Authority.
We look forward to the final results of this project.  We are certain these will be vey interesting and will be sure to share them with you.  After all, without your support, this wouldn't be happening!
The MAR Fund Team

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Project Leader

Maria Jose Gonzalez

Executive Director
Guatemala, Guatemala

Where is this project located?

Map of Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef