Recent News

                                                            Belizean Gillnet Ban 
April 2019

Over the past several months, Turneffe Atoll Trust has been actively pursuing a gillnet ban throughout all waters of Belize. We are cautiously optimistic that this effort will be successful but there is much more to be done. Below are some pertinent documents.

           Net loss of Net Gain, Valentino Shal, PhD
A thorough analysis of the positive and negative aspects of gillnet fishing in Belize                                    concludes that " Belize's very own fisheries and tourism sector is at risk of losing millions
of dollars and thousands of jobs."

            The Negative Impacts of Gillnet Fishing on Marine Ecosystems:, Julio Benavides, PhD
A well-documented critical analysis of the detrimental effects of gillnet fishing in Belize                          and elsewhere.
Several organizations have banded together to form the Coalition for Sustainable Fisheries in Belize and this group has led efforts to establish the ban. Members include Turneffe Atoll Trust, the Belize Federation of Fishers, Oceana, Yellow Dog Community and Conservation Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, Belize Audubon, The Belize Gamefish Association, MAR Alliance, Belize Tourism and Industry Association and the Belize Sportfishing Association. 
Turneffe Atoll Trust and Yellow Dog Community and Conservation Foundation have funded two key related studies for a Task Force evaluating the potential ban. Additionally, these two organizations have funded an investigation into the wide-scale incursion of Guatemalan fishermen into Belizean waters which is having devastating consequences for the Belizean commercial fishery as well as sportfishing in Belize. This investigation was highlighted in a recent feature article in the Reporter Newspaper in Belize.

Turneffe Atoll Trust Investigation of Guatemalan Gillnet Fishing in Belize
April 2019

Turneffe Atoll Trust recently conducted an investigation of the wide-scale gillnet fishing by Guatemalan nationals in Belize which revealed major concerns for Belize's commercial fishery and tourism industries.

Reporter Newspaper Article - Guatemala's Fishing Trade Spells Trouble for Belize.
A feature article in the Reporter Newspaper April 7, 2019 describing the large-scal
exploitation of Belize's fisheries resources, including sharks, shark fins, fin fish (including the valuable sport fishing species, permit), rays and marine mammals by Guatemalan
                                   Turneffe Atoll Trust Holds Media Event 
December, 2018

On December 18, 2018, TAT held a press conference to present several reports related to the economic value of Turneffe Atoll's environmental assets and how these assets are being risked through destructive and unsustainable development which have damaged or destroy Turneffe's coral reef, backreef flats, sea grasses and mangroves - the very habitats that produce this economic value.  

Risking the Atoll is a detailed report by Dr. Valentino Shal discussing several unsustainable developments at Turneffe Atoll and offering an economic feasibility analysis of a four story 96 room hotel under construction on the atoll for the past 14 years. This project includes a large area of dredged backreef flat, coral reef damage and extensive mangrove deforestation - these being the very habitats that create Turneffe's exceptional economic value.

The Press Conference was very well attended and we thank all media outlets for their excellent coverage of this story. Turneffe Atoll Trust's hope is that better awareness of these matters will prevent future damaging projects and protect the nearly $600,000,000 dollars of economic value that Turneffe Atoll's environmental assets provide for Belize.

Dr. Valentino Shal

Risking the Atoll

                                                           Related Reports

Dr. Anthony Fedler analyses the value of Turneffe Atoll in protecting Central Belize, and particularly Belize City, from storm damage.  Dr. Fedler uses the Net Present Value approach in determining that Turneffe Atoll provides US $191 million dollars annually in storm damage mitigation for this area. 

 Dr. Anthony Fedler
The Value of Turneffe Atoll Mangrove Forests, Seagrass Beds and Coral Reefs in Protecting Belize City From Storms

Dr. Fedler assesses the Blue Carbon Value of Turneffe Atoll.

Dr Anthony Fedler
The Blue Carbon Value of Turneffe Atoll

Dr. Julio Benavides discusses the current effects, likely future changes and possible mitigation strategies for Turneffe Atoll related to Climate Change. 

Dr. Julio Benavides

Climate Chage Impacts to Turneffe Atoll


Hatch Produces Turneffe Atoll Trust Reel

Hatch Reels recently produced a beautiful limited edition 7+ reel with profits designated for Turneffe Atoll Trust.  This reel sold out in six weeks but stand by for the release of the 9+ this fall. 

Turneffe Atoll Trust is grateful to Hatch prinicples Danny Ashcraft and John Torok for their generous support.  Their $25,000 donation will quickly be put to good use supporting fisheries habitat in Belize.


Illegal Use of Coral Angers NGO's

Cockroach Caye
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)