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Mar 10, 2016

Mesoamerican Eco-Audit Launched

Healthy Reefs for Healthy People…an eco-audit is ongoing to determine how far Belize is in respect of a number of reef management measures. The launch of the audit took place today at the Radisson where marine conservation and research organizations are meeting. Environmentalists say that Belize is ahead in the management of the ecosystems and marine protection. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The 2016 Mesoamerican Eco-Audit was launched earlier today.  It is a study that appraises the collective efforts within the region toward protecting and sustainably managing the coral reefs.  It also provides evidence to which recommended management actions have been carried out in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.  Roberto Pott is the Belize Coordinator for Healthy Reefs for Healthy People.

 

Roberto Pott

Roberto Pott, Belize Coordinator, Healthy Reefs

“One of the things that we’re happy to say is that Belize has been a trendsetter.  We’ve been able to get regulations in place in preparation for management of our resources, creating the framework for better management and then rolled out a network of marine protected areas which puts in place management on the ground, in the water and enforcement presence.  And we could improve in terms of the expansion of our no-take areas but we are doing fairly well and we continue to lead the region.  But the other countries have looked at Belize and they have been doing the same things that Belize has been doing and so we’ve seen that parrot fish is now protected in Guatemala and Honduras and the Atlantic Coast.”

 

According to Dr. Melanie McField, Regional Coordinator of Healthy Reefs, the eco-audit is a systematic and transparent evaluation of the degree of implementation of a number of recommended reef management actions.  Healthy Reefs Initiative ties all of these actions together.

 

Melanie McField

Dr. Melanie McField, Director, Healthy Reefs

“Healthy Reefs Initiative is a collaboration of marine conservation and research organizations and some government departments.  We work on developing a common voice, doing regular reporting, this is part of it, the report cards that I mentioned are the other part and enhance collaboration with all of us.  There are sixty-five partners in this initiative right now and the concept is that the two reports work together to actually perform what is called adaptive management.  So together we use the results of the eco-health report card to inform if our management actions are working.  So the two things go hand in hand but you have to actually evaluate your management actions and that’s the piece that’s usually is not done.  Around the world, groups are starting to measure the health of the ecosystem but they’re not really measuring how much they’re doing in a collaborative or even a standardized way.  Their management actions need to be evaluated on a larger scale in order to see if it’s because of their actions if the ecosystem is improving or not.”

 

Belize had the highest score of sixty-eight percent and has implemented several management actions in the past to improve Marine Protected Areas and address Global Issues.

 

Roberto Pott

“We need to continue to set the trends.  We don’t wasn’t to become complacent and there are areas that we are already starting to see movements in coastal zone management, in terms of sustainability in the private sector.  We’re starting to look at seafood programs that are looking at sustainable seafood and also standards for marine recreational providers.  Those are going to be for the interest of the industry but it will also benefit the resources.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Looking at what has taken place here it seems that there is a strong interagency approach to conservation and looking at the wellbeing of the reef.  In terms of the individual players how has this come together in terms of either the Coastal Zone Management, OCEANA or any other partner organization?”

 

Roberto Pott

“There’s a network of sixty organizations that are a part of the partnership in conservation practices.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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