Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef

by Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund)

Five years have passed since the signing of the co-management agreement in Barras de Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge in Honduras.

After this time, several actions have been made, including the construction and equipment of fish collection centers in the fishing communities that are supporting and respecting the fish refuges established in 2010.

However, every commitment needs to sometimes make a break, evaluate its action lines and update and/or improve them.

This is exactly what Cuero y Salado Foundation (FUCSA) intendes to do with the co-management agreement during the coming months.  FUCSA has submmitted a proposal with, among others, the following activities:

  • to develop four working meetings among the co-management agreement signatories
  • to review the legal and technical frame of the agreement
  • to improve and strengthen the control and surveillance strategy
  • to monitor the fish extraction collected and stored in the fish collection center

We believe this is a very strategic and important step to take, as protected areas are such dynamic ecosystems, and financial resources as well as personal staff are fragile aspects in must Government organizations, conditions may have changed snce the signing of the agreement.

We encourage FUCSA and its partners to go ahead and begin this important process!

We also invite you to continue collaborating with us, in order to be able to support proposals like this in the future to other organizations that have wisely begin the co-management of fisheries resources road.

Thank you very much!

Banco Chinchorro and Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserves are marine protected areas in Mexico that declared three fish refuges with the support of the following Fishers Cooperatives: Langosteros del Caribe, Banco Chinchorro, Andrés Quintana Roo, Jose Maria Azcorra and Cozumel. This was done three years ago and since their inception on 2012, these refuges have been monitored once a year to learn about the ecological improvement they have had.

After at least four monitoring exercises (2012-2015), the results are encouraging.  Some of these are:

Banco Chinchorro

  • The total biomass of snappers and groupers has increased 217%
  • The coral reef cover also increased in around 8%

Sian Ka'an

  • The biomass of snappers increased 146% (there are larger fish)
  • The refuge protects the reproductive aggregation site for groupers 

It is because of results like these that we are happy for your support.  

We will keep you updated!

Guardhouse built and equipped in Cuyamel-Omoa
Guardhouse built and equipped in Cuyamel-Omoa

On January 29, 2015, the Grants Review Committee of MAR Fund gathered together in Guatemala City to evaluate and recommend fo approval the proposals that were submitted during the 7th Request for Proposals.

Cuerpos de Conservación de Omoa, the NGO that co-administrates the Cuyamel Omoa National Park, submitted the continuation of two previous successful and well-developed grants that began in 2013 with the objective to create a fisheries recovery site in the marine protected area. This new proposal is entitled 'Managing ecosystems and promoting economic alternatives in the area of fisheries recovery site PAMUCH'.  

To date, the project has achieved the following main results:

  • Fishers and authorities made a field visit to Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge to learn from their experience
  • Proposal of a 900 Hectares fisheries recovery site
  • Participative physical delimitation of the area by the fishers
  • Establishment of the baseline of biodiversity and abundance of fish
  • A guard house was built and equipped to ensure presence in the area 

This following phase will include the signature of the co-management agreement between authorities and fishers and the establishment of economic alternatives for the fishermen that árticipated in the initiative.

We are certain that with this support, CCO will consolidate all the efforts they have done and results will be shortly noticed.  We will be glad to share them with you!

Fishermen designing management strategies
Fishermen designing management strategies

After a two-phase project of participatory design of fish refuges and fisheries co-management areas in the Río Sarstún Multiple Use Area in Guatemala, the fishermen have achieved very important results such as:

  • A research protocol was designed to establish the baseline for commercial fish species
  • Five monitoring exercises developed inside and outside the proposed refuges
  • Two workshops organized for the fishing communities of San Juan, Cocolí and Barra Sarstún to determine:

                 - Three conservation targets for the two fish refuges: mangroves, sea grass beds and commercial fish species

                 - Most relevant threats for these targets: climate change, pollution by agrochemicals, habitat loss and overfishing

                 - Strategies for conservation and good management of the fish refuges design:               

                             * Environmental education

                             * Constant biological monitoring

                             * Strengthening control and surveillance within the fish refuges through community participation

                             * Identification of alternative income

  • Co-management agreement draft for the fish refuges in Barra Sarstún / Laguna Grande and Cocolí were completed and sent to hte National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP)
  • A training plan on the AGRRA methodology was designed for the monitoring of corals and different species of fish to further capacity building of the fishers trained in scuba in 2013
  • Materials were purchased for the San Juan collection center, including two stainless steel tables and two sets of professional knives. 

We are very confident that these fishing communities will continue to grow their capacities and will have very productive fish refuges.

We will let you know about their progress!

Equippment purchased for the collection center
Equippment purchased for the collection center

From July 31 to August 1st, the Fifth Tri National Fishermen Forum from the Gulf of Honduras was held in Punta Gorda, Belize.  It was organized by the Tri National Alliance for the Conservation of the Gulf of Honduras - TRIGOH -.

The main objective of the forum was to strengthen the network of fish refuges in the Gulf.

A total of 79 persons among fishermen, staff from NGOs and Fisheries and Protected Areas authorities from the three countries (Belize, Guatemala and Honduras) participated in the forum.  The most represented delegation was the one from Guatemala, folllowed by Belize and then Honduras. After evaluating the representation by sector, the fishers were the highest represented with 38 persons, follwed by the NGOs and the authorities with 31 and 10, respectively. Fisherwomen were also represented.

Among the results obtained during the forum are:

  • Socialization of the research protocol for establishing the baseline of fish refuges within the Gulf of Honduras and fishermen participation in its implementation.
  • Ellaboration of the map of the network of fish refuges and identifying its geographical gap

Eleven new potential sites were identified within the Gulf of Honduras as fish refuges as follows: six sites in Belize: 1 in Gladen Spit, 4 in Sapodilla Cayes and 1 in Port Honduras. In Honduras, the five sites identified were: Tulian, Barra de Chamalecon Boratex, Capiro, Los Micos and Peñón de Punta Isopo.

The representatives from the Fisheries and Protected Areas authorities committed to support the fish refuges initiatives among the three countries in order to consolidate the Network.

We will keep you posted of every progress TRIGOH has!


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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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