Punta Gorda, July 31, 2017 – Representatives from eight marine protected area organisations came together in Belize to develop strategic plans in support of marine protected area law enforcement.
“With our national partners and with our counterparts from three Caribbean countries we’re looking at the future of our marine protected area enforcement programs,” explained Mrs. Celia Mahung, Executive Director of the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, TIDE Belize.
“We’re considering current and anticipated threats to the natural resources that we manage, we’re applying information that we’ve gathered over the years based on local knowledge, from technology and from tracking enforcement effort on the ground. We’re refining our enforcement programmes and strengthening partnerships in order to face the challenges of ensuring the sustainable fisheries in the coming years,” she commented.
Organizations taking part in the meeting are the Belize Fisheries Department, including the specialist Conservation and Compliance Unit, South Water Caye Marine Reserve and Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, Belize Audubon Society, Roatan Marine Park, the Bay Islands Conservation Association of Utila and The Bahamas National Trust.
Marine law enforcement expert, Retired Captain Jayson Horadam, a regional marine law enforcement expert with over 25 years’ experience in the field commented: “Port Honduras Marine Reserve has taken great strides forward in marine law enforcement in recent years”.
Information from scientific research along the length of the Belize Barrier Reef confirms that effective protection is serving to increase the number and size of commercially important fish which in turn brings spillover benefits for enhanced fishing in areas outside reserves. However, Captain Horadam added: “The challenge is to protect natural resources in the face of new and emerging threats. These threats are very real and merit a serious effort in strategic planning among partners.”
The meeting is an initiative of the partnership between the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Conservation Program in support of effective marine protected area management in the Caribbean.
For more information please contact MPA Enforcement International: www.mpaenforcementinternational.com, j.horadam [at] mpaenforcement.com.