Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef

by Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund)
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef
MAR-SFNet general assembly
MAR-SFNet general assembly

Within the framework of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) meeting in Merida Yucatan, Mexico carried out in November 2017, The Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund), the Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza (FMCN) and Rare Conservation organized a side event to lay the foundations for the creation of the Mesoamerican Reef Sustainable Fisheries Network (MAR-SFNet).

Derived from the side event, MAR Fund and FMCN developed a follow up meeting in November 2018 to consolidate the network to promote and support the sustainability of fisheries, especially small-scale fisheries, in the MAR region. Since its consolidation, the MAR-SFNet, formed by civil society organizations, community organizations, academic institutions and fishing cooperatives from the four countries (Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras) of the MAR currently working in fisheries, have gathered to follow up on their indicators, marketing, legal framework, capacity building, strategic communication, financial sustainability and their work plan.

This initiative has generated a strategic document that maps and analyzes key actors, projects and organizations that work in the small-scale fishing sector in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR). This document presents information about priorities, opportunities, limitations and threats that the fishing sector faces and it also provides trustworthy data to support and inform the Network’s next steps with a regional and multilevel approach.

Thanks to your support, we were able to strengthen the Network, in collaboration with funds from the Integrated Reef to Ridge Management of the Mesoamerican Reef Ecoregion” Project (MAR2R-CCAD/WWF-GEF), and the general assembly in August 2022 was developed. The objective of this meeting was to carry out the updating and appointment of the new Executive Committee (2022 – 2024) of the Network, share the activities the Network has been developing, lessons learnt from 2021 and the plan for the up-coming years.

We will keep you posted on the activities and results achieved by the Network.

Thank you for your support.

The MAR Fund Team

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AGRRA monitoring by HRI in Cayman Crown, 2021.
AGRRA monitoring by HRI in Cayman Crown, 2021.

As promised, results have been achieved through the MAR Fish “Knowledge, monitoring and protection of Mesoamerican Reef’s Fish Spawning Aggregations”, a four-country project monitoring the first regional spawning network in the Mesoamerican Reef region.

To maintain fish populations and the protection of Fish Spawning Aggregations (FSAs), temporary gatherings of fish that come together for reproduction, is what this project seeks. The focus area includes “Cayman Crown” (known by local Guatemalan fishermen and new to science since 2013) an extremely healthy reef straddling the maritime border between Guatemala and Belize, which likely includes Guatemala’s only multi-species FSA. Below you will find some of the results achieved up to date:

  • Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI), in collaboration with Sam Purkis Partnership Inc, developed the habitat maps for Cayman Crown area.
  • The Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE) from Belize and Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO) from Guatemala, continue working towards the protection and management of the reef through bi-national collaboration;
  • HRI and Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) conducted training sessions on reef health monitoring using AGRRA. A total of 51 participants completed the course.
  • Two additional sites were incorporated in the network in 2020: Sandy Bay in Honduras, monitored by Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), and Emily in Belize, monitored by the Belize Fisheries Department (BFD). Other sites have been incorporated in Mexico and Honduras in 2021: Blanquizal and San Juan in Mexico, monitored by COBI, and a new site that hasn't been named yet in Honduras, monitored by CORAL.
  • HRI conducted reef health monitoring near sentinel sites in the four Mesoamerican reef (MAR) countries.
  • A workshop for fishers in the three countries of the Gulf of Honduras (GoH): Belize, Guatemala and Honduras was developed and representatives of fishing communities were selected to establish a Tri-national Committee to enable the development of collaborative actions to protect natural resources within the Cayman Crown, while supporting local livelihoods.

Through this project we continue to develop actions that focus on the management of the FSA, with the participation of different actors and local communities.

Each activity developed takes us closer to the network of FSA the region needs.

Thank you for your help in protecting the Mesoamerican Reef.

The MAR Fund Team

Fishers workshop in Guatemala by FUNDAECO, 2021.
Fishers workshop in Guatemala by FUNDAECO, 2021.
HQ used for monitoring & patrols, credit TIDE
HQ used for monitoring & patrols, credit TIDE
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Roatan Marine Park-Coral fragments installation
Roatan Marine Park-Coral fragments installation

As promised, results have been achieved through the initiative Involvement of Local Communities in the Conservation and Restoration of Mangrove and Coral Reefs and Promotion of Good Practices in Sustainable Fisheries in the Mesoamerican Reef System.

The restoration of public natural assets such as fish stocks, mangrove and coral reef ecosystems is what this initiative seeks. Up to date, we have been able to:

  • Implement three projects in coral reef restoration. Two of which have ended and one is still under development.
  • Implement one project in mangrove restoration, still under development.
  • Strengthen the MAR Coral Reef Restoration Network through the creation of a strategic plan with its action plan, operational plan, financial sustainability plan, information exchange protocol and a code of ethics, all of which have been approved by the Network’s Executive Committee.
  • Strengthen the MAR Sustainable Fisheries Network through meetings of the Executive Committee of the Fisheries Network and the hiring of the coordinator for the network.
  • Develop meetings of the Regional Dialog Group for the creation of capacities regarding the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) and standardized the SCTLD monitoring in the region through the investigation of different methodologies used.
  • Development and publishing of the Manual for the Ecological Restoration of Mangroves in the Mesoamerican Reef System and the Wider Caribbean.

Through the development of this joint initiative, between the MAR Fund (RRI Reef Rescue Initiative, MAR Sustainable Fisheries Network, Local Communities), the MAR2R-CCAD Project and Organización del Sector Pesquero y Acuícola del Istmo Centroamericano (OSPESCA), we continue to develop actions that focus on the restoration of these natural assets, with the participation of different actors, and local communities.

Each activity developed takes us closer to the thriving resource we need.

Thank you for your help and for believing in our work.

The MAR Fund Team.

EcoLogic Development Fund - Reforestation
EcoLogic Development Fund - Reforestation
Mangroves restoration in the MAR manual cover
Mangroves restoration in the MAR manual cover
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Moving to the south, we find ourselves in the Bay Islands National Marine Park, formed by three islands, Roatán, Guanaja and Utila. This Park has a very important function in the protection of the coral reefs ecosystems of the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR).

In Honduras, there is little information on fish spawning aggregation (FSA) sites and their fisheries, despite their ecological and economic importance. That is why the NGO Bay Islands Conservation Association-Roatan (BICA-Roatan) is working on acquiring information through the monitoring of the FSA. Through your support we were able to provide funding to help them develop a project called “Working with island communities to improve spawning sites in the Bay Islands”

The goal of this project is to develop a participatory FSA monitoring process that promotes protection and sustainable fishing. Specifically, it seeks to work with the fishing communities of the Bay Islands to generate information that improves the management of these sites. It also focuses on raising awareness in the communities to protect these sites and carry out sustainable fishing practices that will help secure the future of fisheries.

The objectives of this phase are:

  • Identify possible fish spawning aggregation through the traditional knowledge of artisanal fishermen in the three islands.
  • Quantitatively characterize the status of the Bay Islands fish spawning aggregation fisheries.
  • Build capacities and knowledge in the three chapters of BICA (Utila, Roatan and Guanaja) and artisanal fishers to improve the management of fish spawning aggregations and their associated fisheries.
  • To sensitize the island population about the importance of protecting the fish spawning aggregation sites in the Bay Islands National Marine Park.

Involving the communities in the process and sharing the knowledge and importance of the FSA will only help them get empowered and on board with protecting the sites.

All of this has been possible because of the help you have provided, for this we are more than grateful. We´ll keep you posted on the results achieved with this project.

Thank you for your support

The MAR Fund Team.

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Fisheries along the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) support the livelihoods of millions of people across four countries: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. But along this coastline, unrelenting fishing pressure has contributed to a 23% drop in commercial fish biomass in sites surveyed by the Healthy Reefs Initiative, as registered in their 2018 Report Card.

To maintain fish populations, the protection of Fish Spawning Aggregations (FSAs), temporary gatherings of fish that come together for reproduction, scattered along the reef is essential. The FSAs present densities up to three times higher than those found during non-reproductive periods and are extremely vulnerable to fishing.

Due to the importance of FSAs, MAR Fund jointly with partners across the region will support the rebuilding of the Mesoamerican reef fish stock by strengthening the protection and monitoring of a network of fish spawning aggregations sites as critical areas of the life cycle of fish species. The MAR Fish project is a four-country project that will monitor the first regional spawning network in the Mesoamerican Reef region, contributing to the existing network of marine and coastal protected areas, as well as the network of fish replenishment zones (FRZ).

The focus area will include the recently discovered “Cayman Crown” (2013, by Ana Giro, of Healthy Reefs Initiative, and local Guatemalan fishermen), an extremely healthy reef straddling the maritime border between Guatemala and Belize, which likely includes Guatemala’s only multi-species FSA. If properly protected under this Project, the Cayman Crown and five of its more established neighbor FSAs, would truly complete a 4-nation protected areas network of sites.

The project has two specific objectives:

  • Obtain legal recognition and manage Cayman Crown in Guatemala and Belize, a newly discovered aggregation area;
  • Promote participatory monitoring of a network of sentinel spawning areas in the four Mesoamerican reef countries.

All the work that we do is possible thanks to your support. We will keep you posted on how this project develops and the results achieved by each of the partners.

Thank you for your help in protecting the Mesoamerican Reef.

The MAR Fund Team

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Organization Information

Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund)

Location: Guatemala - Guatemala
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @MAR_Fund
Project Leader:
Maria Jose Gonzalez
Executive Director
Guatemala, Guatemala
$3,666 raised of $90,000 goal
 
152 donations
$86,334 to go
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