Every two years, regional scientists release a “report card” reviewing the health of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System which covers the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, extending down all Belize’s coast to Guatemala and Honduras. Belize has not attained the best of grades in the previous report cards, but today The Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative (HRI) released its 2015 Report Card for the Mesoamerican Reef, recording an improvement in reef health from ‘Poor’ in 2012 to ‘Fair’ this year, primarily due to increased fish biomass. With the results here is local coordinator for the Healthy Reefs Initiative, Roberto Pott.
Roberto Pott – Belize Coordinator, Healthy Reefs Initiative
” The overall score for the reef health index is fair for Belize. It is still in a poor state but coral has remained regionally between 16- 18%. Algal cover continues to increase in the region which is a major concern. Regional biomass for herbivorous fish as been a ‘fair’ condition. Most parrot fish were small and hopefully we can see that change as time goes on. Commercial fish biomass increased slightly since 2006.”
Belize has been caught up by Mexico and Honduras on some issues but we are not yet bottom of the class. Pott says local authorities are engaged in making sure Belize leads by example. .
“Listening to Beverly Wade, at the Belize Fisheries Department, you see that government agencies are engaged. and that has been one of the strengths of the Healthy Reefs Initiative, where you have NGOs, Governments and scientific experts engaged and committed to the long term. I think the presents of the First Lady here, shows an interest and a commitment and a support for reefs in Belize. The management access program is actually pointed that they make statement or express that concern because the manage access actually looks at getting fishers to collect their own data. Fishers can do it, they are smart enough and they know how to manage their resources. It’s getting them involved in management and being stewards of their own resources. The better you know what you have, the better you manage it in the long term.”
A review of the report card is planned for a later date. The next major report is the biennial Eco-Audit due in 2016.