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