Empowering Fishing Communities in the MAR Reef

by Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund)

Dear friends,

The holidays are here, and all of us at MAR Fund are taking a moment to reflect and give thanks for those who support us.  We have received a number of donations through GlobalGiving this year, and we’re very grateful to all of you!  We’d like to take this opportunity to thank donors who prefer to remain anonymous, since we are unable to send them individual thank you notes.

Thanks to the support of all of our donors, this year we were able to support three fishers’ organizations in Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, Guatemala, to work together and propose a co-management area and three fish recovery sites to the authorities.  Co-management will allow fishers to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of the fisheries on which they depend. In the sites in Mexico and Honduras, fishers’ voices are being heard: they are able to use their knowledge and the data they gather to propose ideas to authorities, and authorities are receptive and are working harmoniously with fishers.

We made a lot of progress this year, but there is still work to be done.  Among the multiple threats to the Mesoamerican Reef region, overfishing continues to loom large.  And so we also look forward to the coming year, and the many activities ahead of us.

Overfishing wipes out large numbers of marine species, making it more difficult for these creatures to grow to reproductive age and continue furthering the species.  The MAR Fund is supporting solutions to this issue in part through our GlobalGiving project: Community Fisheries Program .

Donating to the MAR Fund’s project on Global Giving is a gift to MAR region fish species. And by helping promote conservation and good management of fisheries in the MAR region, you are helping coastal fishing communities have a greater stake in the management of their resources, and therefore a chance to improve their livelihood.

We encourage you to make a contribution this holiday season that will directly assist fishers to get involved in fisheries management in the region.  If you’re looking for a unique gift, GlobalGiving has the solution: tribute cards. You can give in someone’s name and GlobalGiving will send them a card announcing the gift.  Right now, GlobalGiving is running a Tribute Card Challenge in which they will give $500 bonuses to the 15 projects with the most tribute donations.  Help our project break into the top 15 and finish your holiday shopping at the same time!

Give in honor of someone who loves to scuba dive, or someone who is enamored of the crystalline waters of the MAR region.  Give because you feel compassion for the situation of artisanal fisherman whose livelihood is disappearing.  Or because you feel compassion for fish and the reef ecosystem.  Or because you want to preserve the treasure that is the Mesoamerican Reef for future generations.  Whatever your reason to give, you can be confident that your donation will have a ripple effect.

Again, thank you for your support in 2011, and please consider a year-end gift to help us kick off our work in 2012!

Enjoy your holidays.  Wishing you all the best for this season and a positive start to 2012,

The MAR Fund team: María José, Claudio, Patty, Claudia, and Edgar

Dear friends,

The 64th Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) meeting will be held in Puerto Morelos the first week of November 2011.

This will be a great opportunity for our MAR fishermen to be heard and to meet scientists and researchers who can support the work they are doing in the region.  They will also learn about successful projects that can be replicated in the region.

We did the math and estimate that the costs for one fisherman to attend the meeting are at least US$2,500.  This includes flights, ground transport, registration and lodging.

This Wednesday, October 19, is a great day to support us to get as many fishermen as we can to this important event, as GlobalGiving is giving away US$100,000 during the final Bonus Day of the year!  During this day and only this day, GlobalGiving is matching at 30% all on-line donations, up to US$1,000 per donor per project. In addition to the 30% match, GlobalGiving is offering a $1,000 bonus to the project that raises the most funds that day and a $1,000 bonus to the project that receives donations from the most individual donors! Please consider donating this Wednesday so that your donation will go even further.  The number of fishermen we can send to the GFCI meeting depends directly on you!

Please, don't let this amazing opportunity pass by!   Thank you very much for your continued support!

Puerto Barrios co-management approval meeting
Puerto Barrios co-management approval meeting

The three fishing communities that are involved in the co-management project within La Graciosa Bay; La Graciosa, Laguna Santa Isabel and Punta Gruesa have achieved interesting advances and are walking the right way on their co-management project in Guatemala.

The co-management area and the three no-take zones proposed by these fishing communities were discussed with the fishermen of Puerto Barrios, another fishing community that fish within La Graciosa Bay. Five representatives from Puerto Barrios went on a boat ride to confirm the location of the proposed areas and confirmed and jointly approved them.  They all agree that the proposed no-take zones are among an important reproductive site within the Bay. This was a very important step for the project because there used to be rivalry between these groups for the fishing resources inside the Bay, but now they all have realized that the only way to preserve them is to stand for them together. This way, all fishing effort dependable is involved in and compromised with the project.

La Graciosa Bay neighbour fishing communities have started to show interest in the co-management initiative and they want to know more about how it works and what the benefits this will bring to fishing resources, therefore, to fishermen, are.

We are confident that next update will tell you more good news and progresses about this project.  Thank you all again for your priceless support!  

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!


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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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