Improving Fisheries in the Mesoamerican Reef

Small-scale fishing boats in Belize. Photo by Adrian Arias

Oceans 5 supports a collaborative project between the Smithsonian Institution, Wildlife Conservation Society (Belize) and Center for Marine Studies (Honduras). The project aims to improve fisheries data collection and usage along with improved marine surveillance and enforcement at a national scale in Honduras and Belize.

Spanning four countries, the Mesoamerican reef stretches over 1,000 kilometers from the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to the Bay Islands in Honduras.  It is the dominant ecological feature in the Caribbean and home to a remarkable array of marine life, including some of the world’s largest remaining populations of manatees and turtles. Nevertheless, a paucity of accurate fisheries data is an ongoing barrier for effective marine management. Further, the threat of illegal fishing and the limited control and monitoring systems in place to regulate fishing activity undermines the ability of reserves to contribute to sustainable fisheries production.

This project will improve management of small-scale commercial fisheries by implementing electronic licensing, vessel tracking and catch documentation systems and improving the use of these data for monitoring fisheries management efficacy. Additionally, the project aims to identify and secure long-term public financing to support country-wide fisheries data collection and the use of these data for ongoing monitoring and management decision making.