Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef

by Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund)
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Fishermen proposing no-take zones to authorities
Fishermen proposing no-take zones to authorities

We are very excited that our first two pilot projects have had great results and impacts and still on the right track. Now, with our third pilot project on its way, we are convinced that we will get even more satisfactory results.

In Honduras, a co-management action plan for the fishing territories was prepared jointly by APROCUS and FUCSA. FUCSA has awarded APROCUS the administration of an ecological camping site, and is also looking to support the implementation of the action plan developed.

In Mexico, the Puerto Morelos Fishing Cooperative submitted a proposal to modify the Management Plan to expand an existing marine reserve (no-take zone) and to add a new fishing ground. The proposal was accepted. CONAPESCA, the Mexican fisheries authority is extending its patrol activities (with fuel, boats, personnel) to include the no-take zones that the Cooperative is monitoring.

The Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge co-management project in Guatemala, which involves three fishing communities within the La Graciosa Bay is moving forward. A co-management area and three no-take zones have already been proposed by the fishing communities. The legal departments of each organization involved in this process (CONAP, DIPESCA and MARN) will evaluate the proposal and the best legal choice to support it.

I take this opportunity to invite you to donate and participate during GlobalGiving Bonus Day on June 15th! During that day and only that day GlobalGiving will match all donations at 30% up to $US1,000 per donor per project. There will be funds available in matching funds only during June 15th. Only on-line donations are eligible for matching. We encourage you to made donations in early, because matching funds will likely run out before the end of the day.

Thanks to your invaluable support, our Community Fisheries Program is extending, and we are moving towards establishing a community marine reserves network within the region.

Co-management workshop with fishermen
Co-management workshop with fishermen

In Mexico, the Puerto Morelos Fishing Cooperative have completed the second phase of the monitoring in the established no-take zones and fishing areas within the Puerto Morelos National Park. After two years of coordinated work, they are now negotiating with the authorities how the monitoring will continue and how they can continue coordinating mutual cooperation. In Honduras, the members of the Asociación de Pescadores La Rosita, Cuero y Salado (APROCUS), have concluded their training in these following topics: environmentral education, Fishing Regulations and sustainable economic alternatives. The Co-management Action Plan will be ready by the end of March. Now, thanks to your collaboration and as part of our project, we have started a new co-management initiative in the Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, in Guatemala. This new initiative involves three fishing communities: La Graciosa, Santa Isabel and Punta Gruesa. These communities live and fish within the La Graciosa Bay. This is a very important biological site for hundreds of marine species that come here to reproduce and that provides them good livelihood conditions such as food and protection. The first meetings with the fishing communities took place in each of their villages during the months of January and February. The first meeting with all the authorities involved: the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP), the Fisheries Direction (DINOPA), the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) and the Mario Dary Foundation (FUNDARY), the protected area administrator, will be held on March 17, 2011. We look forward to keep sharing with you all our achievements, which wouldn't be possible without your constant support!

Ms. Angélica Méndez, MAR fisherwoman
Ms. Angélica Méndez, MAR fisherwoman

Last October 2010, the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) announced that Ms. Angelica Mendez, a fisherwoman from Livingston, Guatemala and Manager of the Guatemalan Caribbean Network of Fishers, was the recipient of the Gladding Memorial Award (GMA), 2010. This, in recognition of her efforts towards conservation and sustainable use of fisheries resources.

Executive Director of GCFI Dr. Bob Glazer commented “The award recipients represent true fisher visionaries and serve as excellent ambassadors for fisheries conservation in the Wider Caribbean. We believe that fishers must be engaged and empowered to be part of the process of managing our shared marine resources in a sustainable manner.”

Ms. Méndez commented “We depend upon fisheries for our livelihoods and it is imperative that our attitudes and our behavior are consistent with sustainable practices so our children and their children can continue to fish.”

Ms. Méndez joined with fishers from around the region for a dedicated Fishers’ Forum. She explained “We’ve looked five years down the road to plan specific programs on how to achieve more sustainable fisheries. Our most important action now is to scale up currently successful local practices to the country and even the region. We want to apply what we have learned here from science to secure our livelihoods and contribute to sustainable fisheries.”

We are very proud about this dedicated hard-working woman’s accomplishment and we are more than convinced that she represents the Mesoamerican Reef fishing community with great dignity and honor.

Congratulations Angelica! You are an inspiration to other fisher women in the MAR region.

Olvin Cayetano, APROCUS
Olvin Cayetano, APROCUS's Chair

On September 24, 2010, we made a field visit to the incredible Barras de Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge, to talk with the Board of Directors from the Asociación de Pescadores La Rosita, Cuero y Salado (APROCUS) about how they felt after the co-management agreement was signed.

 Looks like the co-management agreement immediately began to have its effects among the APROCUS members. They are more than convinced that they have to be an example for other fishermen. Olvin Cayetano, the young enthusiastic Chairman of the association said: “Our fishing grounds are a part of a more important and big ecosystem. It is an income source not only to us, but for thousands of other people.

Olivia Cavachuela, a La Rosita community fisherman’s wife and former APROCUS’s treasurer, thinks that: “Our Refuge is a small portion of the beautiful Mesoamerican Reef, and it encourages tourism and it has provided all the fish that we have needed to subsist so far

José Rivas, APROCUS’s secretary and a fisherman from La Rosita community, after hearing what Olvin and Olivia had to say about the Refuge, simply said: “We depend on the natural resources the sea gives us to live, to eat, it provides all we need. It is our life provider…”  

We wanted to let you know the point of view of some of the people that you are supporting through our project “Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef”.

All of your contributions have been vital for the continuity of this project. This is why this time, we’d also like to let you know about the Give More, Get More Matching Campaign that GlobalGiving is doing, starting October 12 to October 21.

This is a fantastic opportunity to increase your support without having to give more from your wallet. Do you know why? Because GlobalGiving is doing that for you! For every donation you made to the project in between those dates, they will be matching them from 30%, 40% and 50%!!!!  Great isn’t it!

We encourage you to keep supporting our project, and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity!

Every donation counts!

Olivia Cavachuela, APROCUS
Olivia Cavachuela, APROCUS's treasurer
José Rivas, fisherman and APROCUS
José Rivas, fisherman and APROCUS's secretary

We would love to share with you this short video clip created by Mr. Joaquín de la Torre from the Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI) with full support from COBI, the NGO that is providing the technical assistance to our project in Mexico. The video shows how the fishermen from the Puerto Morelos Fishing Cooperative monitor the reef. As we mentioned in our last update, they have considerably improved their monitoring skills.

Please watch and confirm it yourself!

We can't stop expressing you our gratitude! Without your support, this just would not be possible!

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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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