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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

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our partners are thinking ahead and moving in to help fishery communities face the pandemic. Following the call from the United Nations Organization and partner countries, to face the health emergency and focus on the social impact and measures of economic response for a sustainable and inclusive recovery, the Comunidad y Biodiversidad, A. C. (COBI) has started a consultation process with fishermen in eight states of Mexico. To learn about the economic and social impacts of the pandemic, and presented the results on their “Resilience of the fishing communities of Mexico before COVID-19 economic and social impacts” paper. 

In this approach, they were able to develop phone interviews to 93 fishermen (34 women and 59 men) of 30 communities from the eight states (Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Nayarit, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Sonora and Yucatan), working in 15 fisheries. Through this they were able to reflect the immediate economic and social impacts caused by COVID-19. Below you will find some results achieved.

Immediate economic impacts:

  • Of the interviewees, 89% declared the closure of their markets and the decrease in the price of their products, 10% reported being affected, but continue with the sale of their product and 1% did not respond.
  • The impact on the markets was presented mainly in two moments. 30% of the interviewees said it was between December-2019 and January-2020, due to the closure of distribution and trading companies that export products, and 49% of the interviewees said it was on March-2020 due to the closure of the American, European and national market.
  • As of March 23, 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was recognized as a priority in Mexico, 48% of the fishermen stopped they fishing activities, 41% continued their commercial business, but reducing their catch and 11% continued fishing for self-consumption.
  • The decrease in prices, both in domestic markets and in export, was reported by 70% of the interviewees. 

Immediate social impacts:

  • Of the interviewees, 45% stated they have adapted to the situation and are seeking to diversify the presentation of their products in local markets or are delivering their products.
  • Of the interviewees, 45% of the fishermen sated they have not been able to adapt and have stopped sailing their products, for lack of buyers or a place to store it.
  • Within the communities, 58% of the interviewees mention that their organizations have helped them, or have helped each other. However, 42% mentioned they have not received any support, and 20% reported having received economic support or food pantry by the federal government.

The coastal communities, due to their isolation show in their responses more social resilience, since they have resources to subsist. However, if there is a case of contagion, the vulnerability of the communities would be much greater due to the lack of infrastructure, local preventive health personnel and supplies, and in some cases, the great distance to the nearest hospitals, COBI states in their report. 

COBI will expand their geographic coverage and number of fishermen, so as to make the fishermen needs and proposals visible. By doing this, they will be able to link them with response and recovery mechanisms. They will present another report focused on the state´s role, opportunities and support distribution. 

We are glad to witness the work our partners develop in order to support communities through this hard times. With this information, they will be able to help fishing communities and organizations to thrive during the pandemic.

Thank you for your support to the Mesoamerican region, we´ll share results from the next report soon.

The MAR Fund team

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Beachtrap, part of the Pesca Tour
Beachtrap, part of the Pesca Tour

Heading a little to the north east side of Belize, we find ourselves in Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (CBWS), encompassing approximately 72,000 hectares of the Belize portion of the Mesoamerican Reef’s largest estuarine system. Co-managed by the Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD) since 2007, in partnership with the Forestry Department. This area has five stakeholder coastal communities (Sarteneja, Chunox, Copper Bank, Consejo and Corozal), of which Sarteneja is the most dependent on the marine resources of CBWS.

To support and involve fishers in sustainable fishing practices, SACD developed an economic project with the Sarteneja Beach Trap Pesca Tours Association (SBTPTA). This project focused on tourism as a form of diversifying income for fisher households and promoting sustainable fishing practices in CBWS by enhancing SBTPTA through ecotourism.

The Sarteneja Beach Trap Pesca Tour Association was formed to represent the interests of the trap fishers from Sarteneja as traditional users of the area. Presently the association is taking the first steps towards tourism by creating ‘Pesca Tours’, which entails taking out tourists to experience traditional fishing in Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Though this support, the association was trained in best fishing practices to promote sustainable fishing in the area. Tour guides previously trained by SACD and the wives of the fishermen are part of this project by offering traditional cooked meals and wildlife watching tours. The fisher wives were trained in basic conversational English and food handling, and they received kitchen equipment to be able to cook for visitors. The members of the association also received equipment to conduct ecotourism and improved their fishing practices for a greater appeal to the environmentally friendly tourist. They developed itineraries for the Pesca Tours, including the original tour (visiting the fish traps followed by a traditional meal of fish).

Through this project the members are able to showcase their beautiful area and promote sustainable activities within the community and with tourists.

We have been able to support SACD in this endeavor thanks to your support. Because of your involvement, we are able to work closely with communities and promote sustainable fishing practices in the region.

Thank you

The MAR Fund Team.

One of the first tours developed
One of the first tours developed
Home cooked meal
Home cooked meal
Traditional fish meal
Traditional fish meal
Equipping the Association
Equipping the Association
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Sustainable Fisheries Network Members
Sustainable Fisheries Network Members

To face the challenges present in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) region and promote a responsible management and sustainable use of fisheries and marine resources, on November, 2017, the Mesoamerican Reef´s Sustainable Fisheries Network was created.

This network is integrated by fishery cooperatives, civil associations, academia, government agencies and, from the four countries of the MAR; members that aim to support the sustainability of the fisheries.

With this network, knowledge and best practices on sustainable fisheries are shared among actors of the four countries of the MAR (Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras). The MAR shares similarities in its biodiversity and marine-coastal ecosystems and the economy of the region is highly dependent on marine resources. The populations that depend on these resources, although very diverse, share cultural roots and economic needs to maintain their financial stability and way of life.

With your support, the network has been able to develop workshops focusing on identifying key actors that support sustainable fisheries, projects developed in the region and promoting strategies that will help the network achieve its goal successfully.

All of this activities have been possible because you believe in our work, and as us, you also want to help the region achieve the sustainability of its resources. We´ll keep you posted on how this network moves forward.

Thank you and may this Holiday Season be filled with joy and laughter.

Happy Holidays!

The MAR Fund Team.

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The Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Protection Area (APFFYB) is located in the Yucatan Peninsula (north) at an approximate distance of 45 km northeast of Kantunilkín, main town of Lázaro Cárdenas, State of Quintana Roo. The area covers an area of 154,052 hectares, corresponding to the coastal-marine strip of said municipality (Mojica and Arrivillaga 2014).

This area is managed by the government institution National Commission of Natural Protected Areas and through your support we were able to provide funding to develop a project called “Marking of lobster shades in Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Protection Area”.

The goal of this project is to carry out geographic data collection of the lobster shades aimed at achieving a better management and administration of the lobster fishery (Panulirus argus), by the APFF Yum Balam fishing cooperatives, as well as to facilitate control and surveillance for illegal fishing. This study will provide data to be able to create a map of the area with geographical landmarks and / or defined use plots.

The activities to be developed are:

  • Identify the fishermen who have lobster shades in the Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Protection Area, specifically in the communities of Chiquilá and Holbox.
  • Organize field trips that allow the collection of geographical data of the lobster shades and verify their exact location.
  • Creation of a map with geographical landmarks of lobster shades and land boundaries of each fisherman and by fishing cooperative. 

All support provided has been possible thanks to your involvement, thank you for your help and for believing in our work.

We´ll keep you posted on the results achieved with this project.

The MAR Fund Team.

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Socializing the action plan
Socializing the action plan

As reported before, with your help we were able to work with the Cuerpos de Conservación de Omoa (CCO) in the project “Improving Governance and the Scientific Basis of Landscape in the Paraiso, Muchilena and Chachahuala” (PAMUCH) Fish Replenishment Zone, Omoa, Honduras”,

Through this support we were able to strengthen the Governance with the participation of stakeholders, expand the information base of the landscape of PAMUCH, promote processes of scientific research and social knowledge of the lionfish and expand the technical recommendations for its control.

The results achieved with this project were:

  • Improved coordination in the implementation of the existing Action Plan for conservation and management of PAMUCH, reaching agreements with institutions involved in the management, within this agreements we have: strengthening fishing groups, the physical delimitation of PAMUCH, continuing to support clean-up of the bodies of water in the protected area;
  • Development of a spatial and multi-temporal analysis of the micro-basins that influence PAMUCH fish replenishment zone. The files generated will serve as planning and management tools for the micro watersheds;
  • Development of the study "Determination of the Distribution and Relative Abundance of the Lionfish in the Cuyamel Wildlife Refuge - PAMUCH Zone" carried out by Personnel of the Department of Biology of the UNAH-Valle Sula with the support of CCO. The results obtained through this study cannot be shared yet, since there are still in the analysis phase. To date what has been gathered is a database; descriptive statistics; media, fashion and frequency distribution; among others;
  • Development of a control and surveillance plan coordinated by the Dirección General de Pesca y Acuicultura (DIGEPESCA) for the marine patrols and the Instituto Nacional de Conservación Forestal Áreas Protegidas y Vida Silvestre (ICF) for the land patrols.

All support provided has been possible thanks to your involvement, each activity developed takes us closer to the thriving resource we want our future generations to enjoy.

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

The MAR Fund Team.

Patrols in PAMUCH
Patrols in PAMUCH
Confiscated gillnet
Confiscated gillnet
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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

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