Dear friends and supporters!
It’s the end of the year and Santa is coming to town! The holiday spirit is in us and we in the MAR Leadership Program are filled with gratitude with all the people that has supported us throughout 2015. Thank you very much for trusting us and for allowing us to continue protecting our Mesoamerican Reef System.
We are happy to share with you the progress made by the MAR Leadership Program and our Fellows in the development of their projects and their professional careers along the fourth quarter of the year.
The second workshop of the 2015 cohort took place in November in Placencia, Belize. During this workshop, Fellows received training on personal development by Psych. Carlos Terzano. They learned more about themselves, reflecting on their goals, accomplishments, strengths, fears, and their network. This generated greater self confidence and trust in the group.
In the field trip we visited Belize Aquaculture Limited (BAL) where we learned about good practices on shrimp farming and about the newly formed ASC Belize national aquaculture certification. Then we went on a boat ride around the Placencia Lagoon where we could see different mangrove plantations, and outside the lagoon, to a nearby key to snorkel around both mangroves and coral reefs. It was a day full of learning!
And to top it all off, the workshop was concluded with the training of Lauretta Burke (WRI) and Rich Wilson (Seatone Consulting) in economic valuation of mangrove ecosystem services, identifying key stakeholders, progressive conservation and communication strategies. We had special guests such as Nicole Aui Gomez Southern Environment Association (SEA), Roberto Pot of Healthy Reefs Initiative and the former Minister of Natural Resources Lisel Alamilla.
Telling the story of Holbox
By Minerva Rosette (2015 MAR Fellow)
Clemente lived in Holbox Island since he was a child with his parents who are fishers. Currently he works as a manager of one of the hotels in the island. The island has grown slowly, and from being a fully fishing village it has become a destination where tourists seek to encounter nature, enjoy the calm waters and feel how time passes slowly.Clemente knows that such a peaceful place can change from one moment to another. He recalls October 21, 2005 when hurricane Wilma hit the island. He, his guests and more than 2000 people had to leave the island and everything they had.They managed to go back home a week later and found that the roads were destroyed and homes and hotels were flooded. Losses that were considered to be in more than $3 million US end up being of $580,000 US.Clemente knows that mangroves, where his father used to fish, is the natural barrier that helped reduce the impact and losses. He wonders how the potential of this ecosystem can be estimated in order to continue to protect their heritage and the people of the Island.
Wilma was the most expensive disaster in Mexico. In 2005 the government and the hospitality industry assumed that the cost of damage to the main tourist area of Mexico ranged between 800 and 1,500 MDD. 10 years later the Mexican Association of Insurance Institutions documented the impact of the hurricane on the coast of Quintana Roo and estimated a cost of 1,752 million dollars. To make it worse, in 2007 Hurricane Dean hit the southern part of Quintana Roo state with losses of 700 million dollars.In less than two years the private sector, the community and governments invested more than 2,500 MDD to rehabilitate the area.
In the midst of this chaos, there were areas of contingency that suffered minor losses, especially those areas protected by reefs and mangrove barriers and where the main benefits offered by the mangroves were fulfilled in terms of protection.This environmental service (coastal protection) undoubtedly has a value; however, there is no standardized methodology that could be used by governments, the private sector or insurers to calculate the value of mangroves services in cases such as hurricanes. Mangrove conservation has a value that must be accounted as part of the assets in a city, a tourist destination or a decision maker to make decisions about how their resources are invested.
Minerva’s project: Valuation of the environmental services of Yum Balam’s mangrove seeks to generate a methodology for the economic valuation of environmental services that are provided by the mangroves to the inhabitants of the Island of Holbox. This information will become a reference for decision making and mangrove conservation. For more information, check out our website www.marleadership.org
What are Fellows up to?
Nicanor Requena (MAR Fellow 2011, Belize) just shared the following news: Belize ends open access to marine fisheries http://amandala.com.bz/news/belize-ends-open-access-marine-fisheries/. Nicanor is the Project Manager for Environmental Defense Fund since the inception of its work in Belize with Managed Access. It started with the establishment of a network of MPAs with the collaboration of various actors from civil society, academia and ecosystem users. Nevertheless, an adequate management at the level of fisheries resources was extremely needed. In Belize, all fisheries (with the exception of the Queen conch) were free-access. In other words, there were no quotas that exact a capture limit—a reason why commercial fish populations were being dramatically depleted. Managed Access initially sought to establish a system of quotas for access to fisheries in two pilot Belizean MPAs - Port Honduras and Glovers Reef marine reserves, and that was exactly the objective of Nicanor´s MAR project. This came to reality two years ago. The work at these two initial pilot sites enabled them to demonstrate that this fisheries tool does work and fishers support it. Now after extensive work with fishers and policy makers and the collective contribution of many, the Managed Access Working Group (a team made up of local NGOs, fisher associations, cooperatives under the guidance of the Belize Fisheries Department) is at the point where they have the green light for the implementation of Managed Access in all the territorial waters of Belize. The formation of the Community Managed Access Committees, which occurred the first week of December, (mostly comprise of fishers from the main fishing communities) is a first major step in the implementation of this fisheries management approach, and a significant progress in Belize marine conservation.
"This is a major accomplishment. It is the work of member organization of the Belize Managed Access Working Group made up of local and international NGOs, fisher groups and lead by the Belize Fisheries Department. I am energized by this and will continue to work on getting successful implementation in Belize with the hope that we can share what we have done in Belize with others in the region... both Oak and Summit Foundations have been supporting our work in Belize" said Nicanor.
Melissa Alvarez´s (2014 MAR Fellow, Guatemala) project Development and Implementation of Municipal Plans for Sustainable Waste Management in Guatemala is an initiative of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) generated through the MAR Leadership Program. The Guide for the development and implementation of municipal management plans has already been developed and is currently in the phase of the layout, illustration and printing the document. Melissa is leading the revision of the National Waste Management Policy of Guatemala, as part of her duties as advisor to the National Commission on Solid Waste Management in the MARN. The final version was presented in August and is awaiting the endorsement by the new government. This project was presented at a key moment in which the MARN is promoting the Law for the Integral Management of Solid Waste and Waste Guatemala.
Regarding the 2015 MAR cohort, Guillermo Galvez from Guatemala, has been very active the last quarter of 2015! In October he was speaker at the National Congress of Marine Biology and in December he presented his work on the Multiple Use Area of Sarstun River in a forum organized by the Tri-National Alliance for the Conservation of the Gulf of Honduras (TRIGOH). He has been also working very closely with the former Fellows Ana Giro (2011) and Angela Mojica (2012). Also Cesar Zacarias, just shared with us the recent approval by Guatemala´s National Council for Protected Areas (CONAP) of the proposal for an update on the national regulation for mangroves. This process of updating that is being coordinated by Cesar, started in 2011 and it is just pending by the approval from the National Institute of Forestry (INAB). Good luck Cesar!