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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
Monitoring of fish in the Chachaguala lagoon
Monitoring of fish in the Chachaguala lagoon

The NGO Cuerpos de Conservación de Omoa, co-adminsitrator of the Cuyamel - Omoa National Park, has done an extraordinary diagnosis on the status of the fisheries resources within the protected area.  This diagnostic was developed jointly with fishers from several coastal communities: Chachaguala, Muchilena, Villa San Martín, Masca, El Paraíso, among others.  These communities are worried about the decrease of the resources and want to support the fisheries recovery site initiative. 

The staff from the NGO divided the protected area in three main sites: river, lagoon and reef. Then they did monitor each of the sites so that the fishers could notice the relation and linkage among the ecosystems and its respective species.

The results of the monitoring were socialized with the fishers who learned about the importance that each ecosystem has for the different stages of the life cycle of every fish sepcies.  With these results, they all agreed the area to propose as a fisheries recovery site.

We are very excited that they are now preparing the demarcation bouys for the fisheries recovery zones and close to submit the are proposed to the authorities and to begin the legal process to become co-administrators of their own fishing resources.

We will keep you posted about their next promising steps! 

Fishers preparing recovery sites demarcation bouys
Fishers preparing recovery sites demarcation bouys

As the co-management action plan moves forward in the Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge in Guatemala, another fishing comunnities from the region have began a co-management initiative on their own: Omoa, within the Cuyamel - Omoa National Park, in Honduras; and Barra Sarstún, Cocolí, San Juan and Buena Vista, within the Río Sarstún Multiple Use Area, in Guatemala.

Yes!  We are thrilled to tell you that co-management projects started in these two Coastal Protected Areas last April, this year.  These new projects will have the support from the Tri National Alliance for the Conservation of the Gulf of Honduras (TRIGOH).  Visits to exchange experiences among other fishing communities will be held with these new projects.

In Sarstun, Guatemala, the objective is to implement four fisheries recovery sites, one in each community.  In Omoa, Honduras, the implementation of one fisheries recovery site is targeted.  This effort will increase the number of fish refuges of our regional network. 

The implementation of these type of projects only strengthens our Community Fisheries Program which you and your support have been the most important part.

We will be sure to keep you posted on the progress of each of these projects along the year!

Now that the fishing communities from La Graciosa Bay, Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, Guatemala, are taking their role as co-managers, they began by identifying action lines that they should work on, in order to empower themselves as resources managers.  The action lines identified were:                     

  • Participation of and coordination with key actors in Management Processes
  • Human capital formation
  • Effective management
  • Scientific information for the assessment and monitoring of impacts
  • Communication
  • Ecosystems connectivity

They are also working in the identification of needs of the protected area and its natural resources.  They have also designed the Action Plan for the fisheries recovery sites and are now socializing it with all the communities before beginning its implementation.

It has been a long and hard way to obtain the official involvement of fishers in the co-management process, but we are walking the right way on achieving the natural resources recovery through the participation of stakeholders, who after all are the main users of this resources.

Do you agree with me?

Thank you very much,

The MAR Fund team

In recognition of the importance of this signing of the fisheries co-management agreement as a first step towards conservation of fishing resources and marine ecosystems, authorities from the Council of Protected Areas (CONAP), the Fisheries Department (DIPESCA) and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) organized an official ceremony for the delivery of the signed agreement on September 18.

These are the first fisheries recovery areas (no take zones) established in Guatemala, and the first co-management agreement signed between authorities and fishermen.  Through this experience, 345 ha (853 acres) are being protected.

CONAP and Fundacion Mario Dary (FUNDARY), an NGO supporting the fishermen in the zone, have been participants in this process since the beginning.  As part of the supportive activities, they started a training process on management of coastal marine protected areas with the fishermen. Among the topics that have been covered to date are: Communication techniques and participatory planning of marine protected areas, and management of marine protected areas.

  • FUNDARY has also evaluated the biological indicators in one of the fisheries recovery areas and biomass in the three established areas.  The estimations of biomass among the three fisheries recovery sites vary from 0.001 g/cm2 in two sites to 6 g/cm2 in the third one.
  • Two meetings have been held with the three fishing communities of Bahía La Graciosa to design an action plan for the co-management area and the three fisheries recovery sites.
  • The training process began with the participation of the fishing communities of Santa Isabel, Punta Gruesa and La Graciosa.

We are very excited that our efforts and your support are gathering together organizations to keep supporting the fishing communities who have just started their new important role as co-managers.

Bahia La Graciosa fishing co-management map
Bahia La Graciosa fishing co-management map

We are very happy to share with you the exciting news that on July, 2012, the first fishing co-management agreement between authorities and civil society was signed in Guatemala.

Now, fishermen of the four communities from Bahía La Graciosa and Puerto Barrios will share responsibilities with the authorities to protect and preserve their fishing resources inside the bay. The agreement consists in providing the fishermen a co-management area and three fisheries recovery sites.

This remarkable event was taken as an example for other fishing communities of the Guatemalan Caribbean.  They are all waiting to see the results that the fisheries recovery sites will bring - more fish.

Although the agreement is already signed, there is a lot of work to do. Fishers and authorities have to design and implement an action plan for the co-management area and the recovery sites. This consist on meetings, paper work, designing of monitoring methodologies, capacity building, equipment, etc.

We are certain that with your help we will be able to support this extraordinary group of persons that only want to ensure fishing resources in a sustainable manner for their children.

Thanks for all your support!

Authorities and fishers showing the agreement
Authorities and fishers showing the agreement
 

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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
$3,368 raised of $90,000 goal
 
137 donations
$86,632 to go
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