To learn about the possibility of establishing community marine reserves in the MAR region, the MAR Fund developed three diagnostic studies. These included an evaluation of the fishing organizations and the needs of fishing communities and the legal frameworks in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras regarding community participation in the management of fisheries. The studies can be obtained from the MAR Fund website (www.marfund.org).
Two informative/training workshops on community participation in fisheries management have been organized this year: one in Livingston, Guatemala and one in La Ceiba, Honduras.
Forty-nine people participated in the Guatemalan workshop, exceeding the initial expectations. Thirteen groups of fishermen were represented, all belonging to the Network of Caribbean Fishermen of Guatemala. There was a large participation of women fishers. The Chair and Coordinator of the Network are both women and they have done an amazing job of bringing fishermen in the Caribbean region of Guatemala together around common interest topics.
Other participants included the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the National Council for Protected Areas, the Fisheries authority, and several NGO’s and programs. Also present were donors that have been supporting local conservation activities including sustainable fisheries.
As a result of the workshop, the fishing community of San Francisco del Mar, from the Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, have had several discussions on the possibility of establishing a community marine reserve to protect a shallow coral area within their traditional fishing grounds. We are very excited about this development, and have met with the fishing group to discuss possible next steps. The funding that is being raised through Global Giving and other donors will go to supporting this and other fishermen's projects in the four countries of the Mesoamerican Reef.
A total of 48 people participated in the Honduras workshop, including nine groups of fishermen. We are looking forward to hearing about their projects for participating in the management of their fisheries and their fishing grounds.