Experts Discuss Belize Marine Biodiversity
June 29, 2011                                                                                             

Some of the World's top marine scientists are meeting in Belize City this week to review the status of the country's marine biodiversity and the potential impacts that oil exploration and drilling could have on the local marine ecology. The University of British Columbia's Fisheries center and its "Sea Around Us Project," in partnership with Oceana Belize, are hosting the two-day Marine Conference today and tomorrow, at the Biltmore Hotel. Jim McFadzean was at the opening this morning and has this report.   download report

Fly Fisherman Magazine
March 2011

Threatened Turneffe Atoll

New Business Supporter Program for Turneffe Atoll Trust
January 25th, 2011  - as reported by

January 24th, 2011 (Bozeman, Mont.)— Turneffe Atoll Trust’s (TAT) new Business Supporter program is an opportunity for companies to help TAT establish a Marine Reserve at Turneffe Atoll. All contributions will be used for TAT’s Campaign for Protected Status for Turneffe Atoll.

“The present social and political climate in Belize offers a very promising window of opportunity. For the first time, all relevant stakeholder groups are at the table and have expressed interest in facilitating a Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve. Equally as important, permitting agencies in Belize have unofficially indicated their support” said Craig Hayes, owner of Turneffe Flats Resort and founder of TAT.

As the largest and most biologically diverse atoll in the Western Hemisphere, Turneffe Atoll is the heart of the Mesoamerican Reef and a natural wonder of the marine world. Approximately 30 miles long and 10 miles wide, Turneffe has pristine examples of all habitats found in a healthy coastal marine ecosystem. The atoll also supports large populations of bonefish, permit and tarpon making it one of only a few places in the world where anglers can accomplish the coveted Grand Slam of saltwater fly fishing.

The atoll, however, remains quite vulnerable with several recent events pointing out the urgent need for action. For instance, dredging has recently devastated portions of Turneffe’s world-famous back-reef flats and several large stands of mangroves have been destroyed.

In October 2010, TAT created the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Council. The Council meets monthly in Belize City and the purpose was to create a fully participatory process for developing the Reserve.
Active participants are:

Belize Fishermen’s Cooperative Association (BFCA)

The Ministry of Tourism and all resorts

Environmental Research Institute/University of Belize

The Belize Coast Guard

The Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI)

The Belize Department of Fisheries

Non-Government Organizations: The Nature Conservancy, Oceana, APAMO, Wildlife Conservation Society, Environmental Defense Fund and the Healthy Reefs Initiative

Businesses can choose from two levels of benefits:

Business Partner: Donations of $500 and above, annual membership includes a listing on the TAT web page, inclusion in our annual report and an official Business Supporter display sign (dimensions 12″ x 18″).

Grand Slam Supporter: Donations of $2,500 and above, 3-year membership includes all “Business Supporter” benefits, plus recognition in all e-newsletters and TAT events. Your company logo will be featured on our Business Supporters web page. Grand Slam Supporters also receive a signed, framed limited edition photo from Turneffe Atoll Trust (dimensions 18″ x 24″).

The campaign will continue until the Turneffe’s substantial ecological and economic resources are formally and protected.

Contributions can be made by credit card on-line or send checks to:
Turneffe Atoll Trust
P.O. Box 10670
Bozeman, MT 59719

Puerto Rico Joins Belize, Makes Bonefish and Permit Catch and Release
December 22, 2010

Effective in late December 2010, Puerto Rico will make bonefish and permit catch and release species. Tarpon have been a catch and release species since 2004. This is great news for bonefish, tarpon, and permit conservation.

Press Release from the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources:

In order to update and improve management measures for commercial and sport fishing resources in Puerto Rico waters, the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources has prepared a new fishing regulation, which will go into effect in late December 2010. The new regulations build upon the previous version approved in 2004.

The sport fishing community participated very actively in the numerous public hearings around the island, and enthusiastically supported the new measures to protect bonefish and permit as catch and release species. Tarpon have enjoyed this same protection since 2004. Common snook are protected in Puerto Rico through a slot limit that prohibits their retention below 22" and above 38" fork length.  With these and other progressive fisheries measures, Puerto Rico seeks to satisfy the marine sport fishing expectations of visitors and residents alike, as well as to conserve commercial fisheries resources for future generations.

Belize Bans Bottom Trawling in Exclusive Economic Zone
Wednesday  December 8th, 2010

All forms of trawling in Belize have been banned in the country’s waters including its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) when Fisheries Minister Rene Montero signed the Statutory Instrument effecting this legislative change today.

The ban, effective December 31, 2010, is a historic decision by Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s administration, which has been making these environmentally friendly decisions on the heel of the threat from UNESCO that it would strip the Belize Barrier Reef System of its World Heritage Site status.

The call to ban bottom trawling had been made some years ago but lacked the political will, as the government was faced with the reality of what to do with the existing trawlers owned and operated by the Northern Fishermen Cooperative Association (NFC). Oceana in Belize collaborated with the government in resolving this concern by negotiating the buyout of the two shrimp trawlers.