The short story
Following the publication of the Voluntary Standards for Marine Recreation in the Mesoamerican Reef System, CORAL began facilitating the implementation and broad adoption of good environmental practices in Placencia, Belize City, Caye Caulker, and San Pedro through the newly designed Sustainable Marine Recreation Environmental Walk-Through Program. This program advises marine recreation providers on improving environmental practices and reducing impacts on coral reef ecosystems. Additionally, by uniting local community members and resource managers with marine tourism operators, CORAL fostered cooperative partnerships to protect these vital resources and create leaders who will continue to expand environmental awareness and training in the region.
More Progress in Belize
CORAL Reef Leadership Network
CORAL worked with the University of Belize National Tour Guide Training Program to create a network of qualified, Belize-based CORAL Reef Leaders. By training this network of local leaders to conduct and sustain educational outreach and disseminate best practices, we in essence "trained the trainers." The CORAL Reef Leadership Network identifies and recruits respected and motivated local leaders in the marine community so members have the credibility and background knowledge necessary to inspire trust. The leaders' presence on site ensures continuity in an industry known for high turnover and serves as a touchstone on coral conservation in the region.
Building Conservation Alliances
CORAL creates the opportunity for interested stakeholders—including MPA managers, marine recreation providers, local community members, and other nonprofit organizations—to begin a conservation dialogue. In this forum, stakeholders share mandates and management plans, explore areas of mistrust or misunderstanding, and build relationships based on shared goals for improved reef and community health. The coalition of individual groups also looks at opportunities for developing cooperative management strategies that leverage the labor and resources of the tourism sector for management, fundraising programs like “adopt-a-reef” or “adopt-a-mooring,” and grant resources for conservation programs.
Examples of Progress
- Through CORAL-directed projects, dive businesses in San Pedro, Belize, helped the Hol Chan Marine Reserve fulfill its management plan by assisting in the installation of mooring buoys. The mooring buoys have reduced anchor damage and helped to regulate the number of boats visiting a particular site.
- Funded by a CORAL microgrant, dive operators, conservation groups, and local hotels and restaurants in Placencia, Belize, installed mooring buoys that effectively eliminated the threat of anchor damage. Placencia stakeholders coordinate an ongoing maintenance program for these mooring buoys.
- Coral Reef Leaders have began conducting Sustainable Marine Recreation workshops in San Pedro and Caye Caulker.
- The Kids in Action program, designed at a CORAL Conservation in Action workshop and funded by a CORAL microgrant, reached hundreds of school-aged children with messages about reef conservation.