Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef

by Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund)

Due to its easy access and its nearness to urban centers, the marine resources in the Omoa Bay have been subject to anthropogenic and natural pressures, such as, solid waste, invasive species, illegal fishing, among others, which have led to a significant reduction in fisheries.

Because of this and as follow up to the project “Managing ecosystems and promoting economic alternatives in the area of fisheries recovery site PAMUCH”, presented by Cuerpos de Conservación de Omoa, the NGO that co-administrates the Cuyamel Omoa National Park and developed within the community of Cuyamel. The NGO presented a new proposal “Sustainable management of coastal-marine ecosystems of the PAMUCH fisheries recovery site, Cuyamel Omoa National Park, Honduras” making it possible to begin a new phase.

This new phase aims to:

  1. Develop an environmental management of the reef and Chachaguala Lagoon of the PAMUCH fisheries recovery site, Cuyamel Omoa National Park through:
  2. Generate a process to divulgate the regulations and the existence of the PAMUCH fisheries recovery site at a National level.
  3. Promote economic alternatives using Lionfish as a source of revenue and an action to eradicate this invasive species.
  4. Get to know the current state of the coastal-marine ecosystems within PAMUCH.
  5. Reduce illegal fishing activities within PAMUCH.
  6. Reduce the amount of solid waste that is suspended and deposited in the Cachaguala lagoon and its surroundings.

All of this activities and successes have been able thanks to your support and faith in our projects. Because of you and your help, we have been able to follow up on previous activities, providing continuation to projects that have had a positive impacts in the region.

So thank you, for being part of our story.

The MAR Fund Team

Presenting the sites monitored
Presenting the sites monitored

As part of the fish recovery sites initiative in Guatemala, the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP) has held important meetings with all actors, institutions, organizations and the representatives from the three communities where the refuges are stablished (La Graciosa, Punta Gruesa and Santa Isabel), involved with the initiative.

So far five meetings have been held in 2016 and a final meeting was developed on December 13-2016. In each meeting important topics are discussed such as, the legal process to approve the Fish Recovery Sites, involvement of the community members in the process of water quality monitoring and fish recovery sites monitoring, fishing closed season, control and surveillance, among others. All this information is shared so every representative is well informed of the activities under taken in the sites.

For the final meeting, CONAP presented the results obtained from each monitoring done to evaluate the fish stock in the fish recovery sites, this monitoring have proven an increase in fish stock, size and the presence of larvae within the sites. Helping the community members and fishermen understand the value this sites have for the sustainability of the resource. As well as, the final report was delivered to each institution and community leaders.

The importance of developing this meetings and keeping everyone informed is a best practice that, not only provides information to all actors involved, but also demonstrates the progress and benefits the fish recovery sites have had on the resources health and stock.

Being able to develop said meetings and promote the importance of this initiative has been possible thanks to your support.

So thank you, for taking the time on being part of this extraordinary initiative and helping us boost community participation and understanding of our natural resources.

We also want to take the time and wish a Happy Holidays, may this New Year bring blessings your way.

All the best

The MAR Fund Team

CONAP presenting results
CONAP presenting results
Getting everyone involved
Getting everyone involved
Monitoring the Fish Recovery Sites in Guatemala
Monitoring the Fish Recovery Sites in Guatemala

As you all know, the first initiative to create fish recovery sites in Guatemala was driven by three communities of fishermen of Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge: La Graciosa, Santa Isabel and Punta Gruesa, working together with the Gillnetters and Manjueros Fishermen Committee of Puerto Barrios. Together with the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP), three sites where created two in La Graciosa Bay, Mono Rojo and Punta Gruesa, and the other one including the entire area of Santa Isabel Lagoon.

To be able to make the fish recovery sites sustainable and have them achieve their purpose, Ana Giró, Guatemalan Coordinator for the Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI) and Dr. Luios Bourillon, Mesoamerican Reef Program Director for Community and Biodiversity (CoBi), experts on the topic helped the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP) by creating a Training Plan for community members.

The training is an important factor that seeks efficiency and higher productivity in the development of activities within the project "Establishing of the baseline and training for monitoring the three Zones of Fisheries Recovery Sites located in La Graciosa Bay and Laguna Santa Isabel, Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge”. The training plan is part of a process which highlights various activities such as appropriate management and importance, strengths and weaknesses as well as the steps to take for the sites to be successful, among others, that if worked together with community participation will achieve a positive effect in the population, providing knowledge to the communities of La Graciosa, Santa Isabel and Punta Gruesa on topics of importance on the Fish Recovery Sites.

Involving the communities in the process and sharing the how’s and why´s of the initiative will only help them get empowered and see it as their own, hence protecting the sites and following fishing regulations.

All of this has been possible because of the help you have provided, for this we are more than grateful.

Thank you for your support

The MAR Fund Team.

Buoys being moved in Mono Rojo site
Buoys being moved in Mono Rojo site

The Community Fisheries Program supports the active participation of organized groups of fisher men and women in fisheries management and recovery. Involving local community fishers has had a positive impact on being able to demarcate the fish recovery sites, a best practice that has proven to be an effective mechanism to restore and sustain ocean ecosystems.

As you all know, Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, in Guatemala, has three fish recovery sites, two in La Graciosa Bay, Mono Rojo and Punta Gruesa, and one in Santa Isabel Lagoon. After two experts in the subject recommended moving the buoys to enlarge the fish recovery sites, a consensus took place between the National Council of Protected Areas -CONAP- entity that manages the area and the Community Development Committee -CODECO- from the communities of La Graciosa, Punta Gruesa and Santa Isabel. On March 29th-2016 two buoys from the fish recovery site in Mono Rojo and on May 18th-2016 two buoys in Punta Gruesa, located in La Graciosa Bay, were moved closer to the mangroves to enlarge the site which is a positive accomplishment within the area.

This only proves that the communities of fishers are willing and understand the importance of managing their resources in a sustainable way, ensuring the livelihoods of their future generations.

Having the communities understand the importance and benefits of fish recovery sites, keeping them informed and involved in the process will only help this initiative keep moving forward.

With your help, we have been able to promote and develop fish recovery sites throughout the region.

Thank you for your support.

Recovery Site Buoy
Recovery Site Buoy
Fishermen helping with the buoys
Fishermen helping with the buoys
fish recovery sites
fish recovery sites

In 2009, with your support, we began our Community Fisheries Program in the Mesoamerican Reef region.  Now, after six years of good results, we decided to develop a document to let everybody know about the efforts fishers, NGOs and protected areas and fisheries authorities have done to accomplish what we have.

With the support of an expert, we are currently developing this document and will soon share it with you so you can visualize the progress your support has had in time.

While the report is finished, we can go ahead an tell you that, only in the Gulf of Honduras, which includes a portion of the Caribbean coast of Belize and Honduras, and the entire Caribbean coast of Guatemala, we have supported the proposal/maintenance of twelve fish recovery sites: one in Belize, six in Guatemala and five in Honduras.  These twelve initiatives have covered the following protected areas:

  • Port Honduras Marine Reserve, Belize
  • Río Sarstún Multiple use Area, Guatemala
  • Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, Guatemala
  • Cuyamel Omoa National Park, Honduras
  • Barras de Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge, Honduras

Out of these twelve fish recovery sites, nine have been legally/oficially declared by the authorities, and the remaining three are pending of their declaration.  

Although there are still some proposed areas pending to be declared as recovery sites, the most important achievement of these initiatives is the commitment and involvement of the fishers, who are already respecting and protecting these sites, as they recognize the importance of preserving the natural and fish resources.

We wanted to share this information with you, as you have been a key part for this Program to become what it is today.

Thank you!

The MAR Fund Team


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Organization Information

Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund)

Location: Guatemala - Guatemala
Website: http:/​/​www.marfund.org
Project Leader:
Maria Jose Gonzalez
Executive Director
Guatemala, Guatemala

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