Micos Lagoon, nestled in the heart of Honduras, stands as a symbol of ecological and economic significance. This natural wonderland is an essential breeding ground for several endangered species of marine life, including sea turtles, manatees, and American crocodiles, and plays a crucial role in preserving the region’s biodiversity. In addition to its ecological value, the lagoon is also a vital source of livelihood for local communities, serving as a major fishing ground that provides them with a source of food and income.
At CORAL, we recognize the critical importance of preserving and conserving Micos Lagoon, not just for the benefit of the region’s wildlife but also for the prosperity of the people who rely on it. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce that together, with our local partners, we were able to establish the area as the first of its kind, a marine/coastal territorial use right system. This groundbreaking step means that we can regulate and monitor artisanal fishing activities in the region more effectively, ensuring that they are sustainable and do not harm the fragile ecosystem of the lagoon.
We’re proud to say that our efforts have already yielded results. Through our work collaborating with our local partners, we have been able to increase the fish biomass within the lagoon by a staggering 600%, providing a boom for local fishermen and ensuring a sustainable source of income for generations to come. At CORAL, we remain committed to our mission of preserving and protecting the world’s coral reefs and the communities that depend on them, and we look forward to continuing our work at Micos Lagoon and beyond.
Communities with a Voice
We are proud to share that our recent efforts to promote sustainable artisanal fisheries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) were highlighted in a featured publication, “Comunidades con voz: El futuro de la pesca artesanal en Latinoamérica y el Caribe” (Communities with a voice: The future of artisanal fishing in LAC).
Artisanal and subsistence fishing in LAC is critical to the region, but historically, sustainable management has been a challenge. To address this issue, there has been a global trend towards managing the fishing sector through adaptive partnerships. These experiences highlight the importance of collective decision-making and community-led efforts for the conservation and sustainable management of fish resources.
Our work seeks to inspire and promote co-management systems that prioritize the rights of fishers and the sustainability of fish resources in LAC. By sharing positive experiences and adaptive learning processes, we hope to empower fishing communities to take an active role in the governance of their countries and the preservation of their valuable resources.
What’s Next for Micos Lagoon?
We are planning to continue monitoring and patrolling the lagoon to update the ministerial decree using science-based adaptive management. According to CORAL’s Principal Program Coordinator for the North Coast, Julio San Martin Chicas, "I am very excited to be part of this project together with the PROLANSATE Foundation, the Forest Conservation Institute (ICF), DIGEPESCA, AMATELA and the Inter-Institutional Committee for the Environment and Protected Areas of the Municipality of Tela (CIAT). We believe that the effective management of natural resources requires the participation and empowerment of local communities and organizations. This collaborative and participatory work allows us to see every day the positive impacts on the reefs. We believe that sustainable fishing transcends generations!“
It’s 2023 and for us, that means a new year with new opportunities to continue protecting the world’s coral reefs. We are so grateful for each and every donor who continuously believes in our mission and stands up for the health of our ocean’s most vital ecosystems. Your generous gift will fund our regional programs to reduce threats to coral reefs, support local partners and communities, and advance our cutting-edge science to keep coral reefs healthy and thriving well into the future.
Let’s look forward to see how your gift will make an impact this year:
Your Gift Ensures Clean Water for Reefs
Clean ocean water is essential for thriving coral reefs and people. That’s why your support will scale up our water quality programs in 2023.
In Hawai‘i, we are using our learnings from West Maui’s watershed restoration project to expand to Olowalu and Molokai. In these locations, we will explore and implement innovative solutions to reduce pollution in areas with degraded landscapes and restore both the land and sea.
Additionally, we are expanding our work to address wastewater pollution in Belize and other parts of coastal Honduras. Our success operationalizing a wastewater treatment system in West End, Honduras, has given us the experience to replicate and repeat this project in new locations. Together, working with partners and local communities, we aim to reduce harmful bacteria levels in marine environments in order to keep coral reefs, ocean animals, and humans healthy.
Your Gift Empowers Resilient Coastal Communities
Our conservation programs could not exist without dedicated and determined community members who are prioritizing coral reef conservation this year.
In the Western Caribbean, educational programs Train the Trainers and Go Blue teach tour operators to reduce their environmental footprint, implement sustainable tourism practices, and effectively educate tourists about coral reefs and how to protect them. Meanwhile in Hawai‘i, our partner organization Hawai‘i Wai Ola monitors water quality by using community science. The data will be used to identify pollutants in coastal waters, inform other community members, and influence decision-makers to prioritize coral reef conservation.
Your donation empowers communities to protect their coral reef ecosystems and expand upon these programs in 2023.
Your Gift Encourages Climate Adaptation
Our science shows that coral reefs can adapt to climate change if we curb carbon emissions and reduce local threats to coral reefs. Science also shows that greater genetic variability will help corals adapt to these warming temperatures—which is why it is important to protect a wide network of corals, so those that become more heat tolerant can spread their genes.
To amplify our impact, we are partnering with scientists, conservationists, universities, and organizations to communicate our research results and advocate for solutions that harness the power of evolution. Your generosity will allow us to expand our alliances in the science community and contribute to marine spatial planning efforts across the globe.
Your Gift Strengthens Sustainable Fisheries
Coral reefs only thrive when they’re stocked with healthy fish populations, which keep algal growth in check. That’s why we focus on reducing unsustainable fishing practices and supporting income diversification projects, which provide new opportunities for families that depend heavily on fishing.
For example, our aquaponics project combines aquaculture and hydroponics to raise fish and grow vegetables. This has the potential to provide alternative income and food security for families in Honduras, while reducing fishing pressure on the reef. With your help, we are now able to collaborate with local fishers who are interested in creating an aquaponics system in the future.
All of this is only possible because of you—our generous donors, partners, and supporters. Thank you for helping us advance our mission in 2023 and for continuing to protect coral reefs. To keep up with our progress, make sure to sign up for our e-newsletter for regular updates.
Think back to 2020—hospital visits rose as COVID cases climbed, borders closed, businesses and schools shut down, and people panicked. The world we once knew spun upside down in a matter of days. And like so many, ocean conservation organizations, many that highly depend on tourism revenue, suddenly faced unprecedented challenges as they worked to protect some of the planet’s most important ecosystems.
Fast forward two and a half years. The pandemic still lingers, but our local partners are thriving and conservation programs have stayed afloat—a truly remarkable accomplishment for coastal communities that watched their economies crumble overnight.
In collaboration with MAR Fund and thanks to a generous donation, we are so proud to have supported many of these small, tourism-dependent organizations during the pandemic and are thrilled to celebrate what they’ve accomplished. Two local partners worth highlighting are the Roatan Marine Park (RMP) and Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA), who utilized CORAL and MAR Fund’s financial support in creative ways to keep their programs running, staff on the ground, and marine ecosystems protected. Let’s take a closer look at how these organizations found success during the COVID-19 pandemic:
RMP Empowered Patrol Rangers to Tackle Illegal Fishing in Roatan, Honduras
Illegal fishing is a constant battle in marine protected areas, including the Bay Islands National Marine Park, which is co-managed by the RMP. Without patrol rangers patrolling the waters, vibrant fish populations will diminish and coral reef ecosystems could be impacted.
When COVID hit in 2020 and tourism revenue disappeared, the RMP prioritized the work of the patrols and acted quickly to allow patrol rangers to stay on the water full-time, with non-patrol staff agreeing to temporarily cut their hours. In addition, the RMP found new sources of revenue to make up for the loss of tourism by ramping up their online presence and focusing on digital marketing and fundraising. It turned out to be a smart move—as the island of Roatan saw a 150% increase in illegal fishing in nearby coral reefs that year.
According to Francis Leán, the executive director for the RMP, the team was successfully able to increase the number of patrol boats on the water, in order to keep up with the surge in illegal fishing. “The work of our patrol rangers is vital,” says Leán. “If it wasn’t for them, the coral reef wouldn’t be what it is today.” Today, five boats continue to monitor the protected area. The patrol rangers, alongside the Honduran navy, have confiscated and recorded a total of 905 illegal fishing items since 2020, ultimately improving the health of Roatan’s coral reef ecosystems.
TASA Implemented a New Business Plan to Manage Belize’s Marine Protected Area
Meanwhile, during the pandemic, TASA focused on developing a business plan to support the effective management of the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve, which boasts 342,000 acres of marine managed space within the Mesoamerican reef in Belize.
MAR Fund helped fund this plan, through the Belize Marine Fund and the MPA Emergency Funds Project that was developed with CORAL. The business plan was created by TASA and Blue Finance and puts emphasis on securing predictable sources of unrestricted funds to manage the reserve. According to Valdemar Andrade, executive director at TASA, oftentimes marine protected areas rely on short-term grants, which do not always secure long-term sustainability of an area’s conservation actions and the teams that drive these programs. By putting more emphasis on generating predictable, unrestricted funds, TASA is gaining financial autonomy to successfully manage the atoll long-term.
TASA’s strategy has allowed their team to focus on developing tourism infrastructure, designing a citizen science program, purchasing equipment to work with the fishing community, and much more. “My vision is to make the reserve a model marine reserve for Belize, where users take an active role in the management and decision-making of the reserve based on information received from stakeholders and science,” says Andrade.
By supporting CORAL, you are also supporting our dedicated partners, local communities, and alliances across the globe. Together, we have found success working directly with organizations like RMP and TASA, helping ensure they have the support necessary to carry out vital conservation programs dedicated to protecting ocean environments.
Why Are Oceans Important? And What Can We Do To Protect Them?
Big, beautiful, and blue—are all words that come to mind when thinking about our oceans. But more than just a picturesque beach vacation, oceans are an incredibly valuable component of our planet.
That’s why the United Nations (UN) designated June 8 as World Oceans Day, serving as an opportunity to raise awareness about the role that oceans play and how we can protect them. Whether you reside on the coast or live hundreds of miles inland, World Oceans Day is a time for everybody to celebrate and learn how ocean health contributes to the overall health of our planet.
Why are Oceans Important?
Why are our oceans important? It’s a valid question. Afterall, humans live on land…so why should we care about the health of our oceans and seas?
Besides the fact that oceans are home to countless marine species, they also greatly contribute to the health of animals that live on land and provide many benefits to humans. According to the National Ocean Service, the ocean produces more than 50 percent of the planet’s oxygen and it regulates our climate and weather patterns. We also rely on the ocean to transport goods, and it contributes to the worldwide economy through tourism, food, and other industries. Not to mention, communities across the globe rely on fish for protein and ocean ingredients used to make modern medicine.
Despite all of these incredible benefits, climate change and human impacts are causing our oceans’ health to rapidly diminish and deteriorate. That’s why we, at CORAL, are calling on you to help us protect the ocean this World Oceans Day.
Protect the Ocean By Protecting Coral Reefs
At CORAL, we focus on protecting coral reefs, which are unquestionably some of the most valuable underwater ecosystems.
It’s estimated that roughly 25 percent of all marine life depends on coral reefs, with species ranging from sea turtles to parrotfish to reef sharks. They also provide food, economic value, and shoreline protection to coastal communities.
One major way you can protect the ocean this World Oceans Day is by taking actions that focus on keeping coral reefs healthy. Here are a few simple ways to start making a difference:
Thank you for protecting coral reefs in 2021, and playing a pivotal role in improving ocean conditions and giving these vital ecosystems a fighting chance against climate change. We have really appreciated your generous donations, which have kept coral reefs thriving and allowed us to respond to situations that threaten their health.
In the past year, we have tackled wastewater pollution, monitored coral bleaching events, increased fish biomass, supported coastal communities, along with many other exciting conservation initiatives and projects. None of this would not have been possible without your help!
To share your impact, we’ve compiled our 2021 Annual Report, which demonstrates the important role you’ve played in protecting coral reef ecosystems around the world.
After checking out our report, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to continue learning about coral reef conservation.
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