The Reporter - Independently Serving Belize Since 1967
October 29th, 2011
Illegal Use of Coral Angers NGO's
Few places in the world are blessed with the diverse marine resources found at Belize’s Turneffe Atoll. Turneffe supports both a vibrant tourism economy and a productive commercial fishery. Additionally, the atoll provides valuable protection from storm damage for the mainland, particularly for Belize The illegal use of corals in a 600-foot coral seawall has come under strong criticism from non-government organizations who say the incident could have been averted months ago had the Department of the Environment (DOE) taken the necessary actions.
According to reports received, the DOE and the Fisheries Department had received information earlier this year regarding the alarming case of a development project on South Long Coco Caye (SLCC), where the developer was digging up live coral to build a seawall. (read on)
Prepared by Anthony J. Fredler, Phd. Human Dimensions Consulting
September 7th, 2011
The Economic Value of Turneffe Atoll
Few places in the world are blessed with the diverse marine resources found at Belize’s Turneffe Atoll. Turneffe supports both a vibrant tourism economy and a productive commercial fishery. Additionally, the atoll provides valuable protection from storm damage for the mainland, particularly for Belize City.
Over 60% of Belize’s tourists participate in marine activities during their stay in Belize. As one of Belize’s major marine tourism destinations, Turneffe Atoll is an important component of the Belize tourism economy. With at least 60 named dive sites, Turneffe is visited by divers from around the world who either stay at one of the all-inclusive resorts on the atoll or travel to Turneffe from as far away as San Pedro, Caye Caulker or Placentia. Turneffe’s back-reef flats, creeks, channels and seagrasses offer world-renowned sport fishing for bonefish, permit, tarpon and several other species. Turneffe Atoll has been recognized by experts as one to the World’s seven best bonefishing destinations and one of the ten best permit fishing destinations. Turneffe Atoll is also home to many threatened and endangered species including the American saltwater crocodile, Antillean manatee, Hawksbill turtle, goliath grouper, and Nassau grouper making it a centerpiece for eco-tourism and marine research.
For generations, Turneffe Atoll has supported an important commercial fishery. Although this fishery appears to have experienced a significant decline over the past decade, it continues to be an important part of Belize’s economy and an important source of jobs in Belize.
Reefs and mangroves dampen the effects of tropical storms and hurricanes by protecting mainland property from damage. This storm protection is a valuable benefit related to Turneffe Atoll; and Turneffe’s location, directly East of Belize City, makes its ability to moderate storm damage particularly important. These benefits are recognized as essential when considering offshore planning and development decisions (Deitrich 2006; Sadovy 2005).
Much of Belize’s offshore area, including portions of Lighthouse Atoll and Glover’s Reef Atoll, is protected under the National Protected Areas System Plan. Although Turneffe Atoll has long been recognized as a conservation priority, as emphasized in the GAP Analysis by Meerman (2005), Turneffe Atoll currently enjoys no definitive management structure or protected status.
(download full report)
Amandala, Belize'a Leading Newspaper
Your Barrier Reef is in Major Trouble, Belize
August 19th, 2011
There is so much going on as it relates to our bit of the Caribbean Sea, and, in this writing I hope to open the senses about that which we hold so dear. We need to start paying attention to our things marine, because while “dawn [used to be] a fisherman,” the rest of the day is pure savagery as it relates to our marine resources these days.
The only time we Belizeans seem to take serious notice of our seas is in time of hurricanes, border dispute flare-ups, or some major cocaine-related drama. And while these are important events, we must also look at protecting the “coastal zone” year round. Prevention is better than cure. Yet, we don’t pay much attention when our highly efficient Coast Guard busts rebel fishermen with baby lobsters barely two (2) inches long, protected sea cucumbers, and undersized and out-of-season resources. This ambivalent attitude is not going to cost us later: it’s taking its toll now. Right now! (read on)
Undersized Lobster Bust
August 2nd, 2011
On Saturday, 30th July, the Belize Coast Guard team from Calabash Caye made a major bust of illegal fisheries. Two females were arrested and the catch was called in to the Fisheries Department - which found a few more underized and out of season products.
These tiny lobster tails - some of them even smaller than shrimp - are what the Coast Guard recovered at an island in the Turneffe Atoll where a 25foot fiber glass Mexican Skiff "Forever Young" was docked. In total 293 lobster tails were recovered.
Hampton Gamboa, Conservation Compliance Unit
"The lobsters are all undersize that was found by the Belize Coast Guard on an island called Cockroach Caye out in Turneffe Atoll. They were only about just about a dozen that were over 2 ounces, all the rest were less than 2 ounce. We even have some of the tail weighing as low as 0.4 ounce on the scale, so they were really small and the overall average weight was like 1.2 ounces. Of `200 plus individuals when you look at 1.2` ounces as the average weight - we are dealing with some really extreme small lobster tail here."